Chamber Blog

Ruth Ann Hanson, Chamber Area Director
Ruth Ann Hanson
Lisa Paxton, Chamber CEO
Lisa Paxton
Kathi Nagorski
Kathi Nagorski
Shannon Janco
Shannon Janco

MN Trade Office has Resources for Business

Friday, May 28, 2010

This week I had an opportunity to learn about the resources the MN Trade Office has for business to expand sales outside the United States.

The first indicator that your business -- large or small -- may want to consider exporting is if you are receiving inquires from outside the country. Now that nearly all businesses are on the internet anyone, anywhere can consider your products and services.

The MN Trade Office can help verify the validity of an inquiry, assist with customs, and have specialists for industries and regions available to consult with your business at no cost.

Minnesota's top export destinations are: Canada by nearly 4x's any other country, China, and Ireland.

Ed Dieter, executive director, and May Jo Stangl, Internal Education Advisor, from MN Trade Office enjoyed visiting with a half dozen business representatives at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

Check our their website:, which contains information and links to a array of programs and information for Minnesota businesses who wish to begin or expand global markets.


A special invitation to ALL who call Brainerd HOME

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I invite you to join me and the other Healthy Communities Partnership of Brainerd committee members for a community picnic and gathering to help shape the future of the City of Brainerd on Tuesday, June 22, 6 to 9 p.m. at Brainerd High School South Campus.

We need input from everyone - young and old, permanent and seasonal residents, business owners, employees, students - everyone who feels a connection to the health of Brainerd should attend!
• Have ideas about how to make Brainerd better?
• What would you like to see improve?
• What is our vision of Brainerd in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?

Enjoy a free picnic while you share your opinions about making sure that Brainerd is a community where people want to live, work, and play!

Registration is requested for this event at: Community Picnic Registration

FREE Child Care is available for ages 3-10 years. Advance registration is required by June 15.

Lisa Paxton, CEO


Brainerd Lakes Chamber Gathers Business Feedback on Economic Outlook

Increased optimism, expectations of maximized resources, and high Chamber rating were key findings of the 2010 annual member survey of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber. As a non-profit organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and managed by professional staff, the Chamber values the results of this annual survey as direction for programs, services, and goals.

Especially in these challenging times, businesses want to ensure they are receiving value for their investments, and the Chamber focuses on delivering a high return and communicating that return to its members.

Overall messages from member businesses were…

- The Economic Outlook is Improving – Or We’re Getting Used To The New Normal
- Hiring in 2010 is Outpacing Layoffs
- Business is Concerned About New Regulations
- Operational Costs are Affecting Businesses
- Members Expect The Chamber to be at the Table with Government and to Encourage Efficiencies
- Marketing the Area of Greatest Value
- Social Media Use Limited
- Chamber Rating – More Than Half of Members Gave us a 10

I encourage you to read the executive summary on all these areas and more at Chamber 2010 Member Survey

As always contact the Chamber staff at any time with feedback, we are here to help you Connect. Lead. and Grow.
Lisa Paxton, CEO


Minnesota Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program

Would you like to learn how your facility can save money?
- Become more energy efficient
- Explore cost-cutting waste reduction

The Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is an outreach program at the University of Minnesota that helps Minnesota businesses develop and implement industry-tailored solutions that prevent pollution at the source, maximize efficient use of resources, and reduce energy use and cost to improve public health and the environment.

MnTAP provides free technical assistance tailored to your business. By reducing waste and increasing efficiency you can save on disposal and raw material costs, and decrease regulatory compliance burdens. You also will create healthier and safer working conditions for your employees.

The purpose of the assessment is to further waste minimization through source reduction, reuse, recycling, and reduced energy use. Upon completion of this assessment, you will be provided a report containing recommendations to reduce energy use and waste generation.

Cindy Brey
Business Service Specialist
MN Dept. of Employment & Economic Development
Phone: 218-825-6783


The Brainerd Lakes Community Mapping Project – An Opportunity to Put Our Community on the GPS Map

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A rapidly growing number of travelers and consumers are using GPS units in their car, their smart-phones, or their laptop to figure out how to get to where they want to go. These travelers are visiting our community every day, and there are more to come. As a chamber member, we provide your GPS coordinates to NAVTEQ – so you are already on the map – but what about the rest of our community amenities?!

Local volunteers have the power to change this!

Help ensure that our community amenities are ready to attract these modern travelers! If they’re using a GPS unit, can they find the local farmer's market and learn when it’s open? Can visitors find our trail heads or the public beaches? Can they find the public access points on the lakes? How about our historic sites? The locations of Paul Bunyan statues? These are just a few ideas for adding information that are fun and valuable to visitors.

We need volunteers to participate in free training to learn about digital mapping technology, why it is important, and how they can share points of personal or communal interest with the world. Participants will then work in teams – for as little or as much time as they can dedicate – to add and update points of interest in our communities on a variety of digital map databases.

We need participants from throughout the Brainerd Lakes region as the project includes all of Crow Wing and southern Cass Counties.

Registration in advance is required and the first training session is June 8. Registration information, dates, and times can be found at:

Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO, is the local contact on this project and can be reached at or (218)822-7111.


Opportunities at Camp Ripley

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The summer of 2010 will be the busiest ever at Camp Ripley. The Camp employs almost 800 people full-time and over 1,000 part-time with an economic impact of well over $200,000,000. Chamber members met with Lt. Colonel Todd Kubista and Brian Dirks in Environmental Services this morning. The XCTC (eXportable Combat Training Capability) offers realistic training of units scheduled for deployment. They will be recreating combat settings with civilians and need short term employees to participate in a variety of village scenarios from June 8-27 and August 5-31. No special skills are necessary – other than the ability to physically withstand 12-hour days outdoors. Pay is $175/day. Details can be found on the job section of the Chamber’s website. The attendees talked about opportunities for businesses to get on the state vendor list, impact of military retirees in the area, ways to promote the Brainerd Lakes area to visitors to the camp, and opportunities for visitors and residents to visit the camp museums, the environmental center and related environmental activities. Click here for a copy of the Power Point presentation.


2010 Minnesota Bicycle Tourism Summit Recap

On Thursday, April 29, 2010, Sue Galligan, Pequot Lakes Area Coordinator, and I attended the 2010 Minnesota Bicycle Tourism Summit at Breezy Point Resort. This one day workshop profiled examples of successful bicycle tourism endeavors and explored opportunities to promote bicycle tourism. The keynote speaker was Jim Sayer, Executive Director of Adventure Cycling Association out of Missoula, MT. He spoke about the benefits of traveling by bike and how to have “bike friendly” communities.

A session titled “Marketing to Bicycle Enthusiasts” was centered on promoting bicycle events through public relations and advertising, however, the concepts could be easily applied to other types of events as well. In this session, Jason Lardy of Nomad Marketing, Jen Freidl of Jean Freidle Communications LLC, and Gary Sjoquist of Quality Bicycle Products spoke about why it is important to promote bicycling events that are taking place in your community and how to appropriately promote those events and the details of those events to the media. They spoke of the importance of having a good balance and working relationship between the public relations efforts as well as the advertising efforts.

The last session I attended was called “Are you on the map? Bicyclist Navigation Tools & How to Play a Part” presented by Joyce Wisdom of Lake Street Council and Landon Bouma of GroupLens Research/ This session stressed the importance of appropriate signage along bike trails and appropriate facilities for cyclists along the trails. Landon Bouma of GroupLens Research introduced a new mapping/biking tool called which is basically a “mapquest” function for cyclists. Currently, only bike trails within the Twin Cities Metro Area are listed on the site, but they hope to expand to include all areas of Minnesota (and beyond) in the near future.

The Summit was a wonderful learning experience and provided an abundance of valuable information. I plan to take my new found knowledge to enhance with more information pertaining to area trails and bicycling in the Brainerd Lakes Area. I also plan to work collaboratively with the Paul Bunyan Trail Marketing Committee to develop new ways of promoting the Paul Bunyan Trail to biking enthusiast.

Gretchen Ennis
Brainerd Lakes Chamber Tourism Director
Paul Bunyan Trail Marketing Committee Member


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