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

Business Roundtable with Chip Cravaack

Monday, November 29, 2010

To introduce our newly elected Congressman Chip Cravaack, R-Minnesota, to the Brainerd Lakes community, I facilitated a roundtable discussion of business and organization leaders in the Brainerd Lakes Area representing diverse industries, ranging from banking to manufacturing, last Tuesday before his community reception at the Holiday Inn Express.

The need for economic stability in the United States was a central theme shared at the table. “We have to create a stable workforce environment,” Cravaack said. He said this topic also was a central theme expressed by the more than 80 newly elected Republican members of the House of Representatives. “Business is a prime topic,” Cravaack said. “When business does well, we all do well.”

Another common opinion, summarized in a comment by one of the participants, was, “We simply have to get government out of business.”

Cravaack said the second biggest challenge after slimming down government will be determining how to repeal nationalized health care legislation.

Many key areas of concern boiled down to a central theme that one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to writing federal legislation. For instance, community banks were not the culprit in the banking problems that crippled the country a few years ago. Unfortunately, the federal regulations now being put in place to address the concerns created by Wall Street and major banks now are injuring many vibrant and fiscally responsible community banks.

Here’s a look at some of the key discussion points:
• Rural areas need to be provided a level playing field when competing with major metro areas. For instance, the Representative-elect was asked to take a look a federal legislation affecting telecommunications companies. Businesses and citizens living in rural areas deserve the same access to broadband, or high-speed Internet connectivity, as do businesses in urban areas.
• Cut government spending! This measure could provide businesses the confidence to invest in their own businesses, which would grow the economy.
• A level playing field again was a concern regarding the level of Medicare reimbursement provided to hospitals. For instance, the ability to thrive by hospitals receiving some of the lowest Medicare reimbursement levels will become a challenge, especially if businesses change health insurance policies for employees in light of health care reforms.
• The two year extension of the Bush tax cuts proposed by some Congressional leaders won’t provide business with the long-term confidence they need to invest in their businesses and grow the economy.

Many other topics, ranging from estate tax reform to education funding, were discussed during the hour-long roundtable discussion. To tee up the conversation, I shared information on the changing face of the Brainerd Lakes Area economy and preliminary results of a recent Chamber policy survey. In addition, Sheila Haverkamp, Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. executive director, discussed what is being done to position our area for future growth.

A public reception, attended by more than 125 people at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in Baxter, was held in Cravaack’s honor following the roundtable discussion.

When asked whether he would maintain an office in Brainerd, as has been the policy of his predecessor, Rep. James Oberstar, Cravaack said he is researching options but that he prefers more of an outreach program. He’s considering developing a mobile office system. “We want to go out to constituents,” he said.

He told the large audience, on point with the same message he delivered to the roundtable participants, that the federal government must get serious about how it spends money. “Are we not brave enough to say no?,” he asked, noting Americans should take out their wallets, look at their children’s photographs, and ask themselves whether they want to pass on this federal deficit to their children.

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Public comment period extended on Crow Wing County's proposed Zoning Ordinance

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crow Wing County officials have extended the comment period on the proposed changes to the Zoning Ordinance. The deadline has been moved to Monday, Dec. 20. As a result, no official action by the Planning Commission or the Crow Wing County Board is expected yet this year.

The county also has announced two public informational sessions on Nov. 23 about the proposed changes. The morning session will be 9-11 a.m. and the afternoon session will be 1-3 p.m. in the Land Services Building, 322 Laurel St. in Brainerd. Those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP to Vickie Sullivan at (218) 824-1298 or vickie.sullivan@co.crow-wing.mn.us by Monday, Nov. 22.

According to the county, the intent of the meetings "will be to make clear to the public the proposed Zoning Ordinance revisions. These meetings will provide the public the necessary information to submit comments to the county regarding the proposed ordinance revision. These meetings are not intended to discuss why certain ordinance revisions are being proposed but to explain the Zoning Ordinance revisions. All comments regarding the ordinance revision will be reserved for the comment period and the public hearings before the Planning Commission and County Board..."

The proposed revisions to the County Zoning Ordinance include new performance-based zoning standards for lake lots in Crow Wing County. The revisions include changes in the number and type of zoning districts, in the allowable impervious surface area, and in stormwater management, among other changes.

Written comments on the proposed changes may be e-mailed to the Land Services Department at environmental.services@co.crow‐wing.mn.us or mailed to 322 Laurel St., Suite 14, Brainerd, MN 56401. The ordinance revisions, which are part of the County’s Future Land Use Map Project, can be viewed on the County website at www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/planning___zoning/index.html.

After the comment period deadline, county staff will compile and analyze the public comments over a 30- to 60-day period. A public hearing then will be scheduled before the Crow Wing County Planning Commission. Following any action or recommendation by the Planning Commission, the Crow Wing County Board then would host a final public hearing before taking action on the proposed ordinance.

Kathi Nagorski, Public Relations & Special Events Coordinator
Brainerd Lakes Chamber

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Highlights from the Pequot Lakes City Council Nov 9, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Council, on Nov. 9, reviewed the preliminary budget and set the proposed tax levy, which would amount to a 2.13 percent increase. The proposed budget and levy was approved by a 4-1 vote. Council Member Tom Ryan was opposed, stating he would not approve any tax increases. The Council in December will set its 2011 final budget and levy. The levy amount cannot be increased from the preliminary amount but it can be decreased. To share comments about the proposed budget and levy, please contact Pequot Lakes City Council members or attend the December Council meeting.
In other action Nov. 9, the council:
• Heard from Sheila Haverkamp, executive director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp., who presented a BLADC update. She also presented the proposed 2011 contract for services with BLADC. The 2011 contract, in the amount of $6,750, was approved.
• Reviewed the Loitering Ordinance. Acting Chief Petersen said the ordinance is being proposed to address juvenile issues. Council Member Ryan questioned if the City could use the administrative citation rather than handling these as misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors. The matter was tabled for further discussion and to allow input from the City Attorney.
• Unanimously approved a resolution with Jenkins Township involving the 2011 Law Enforcement Contract, and Joint Powers Agreement, in the amount of $26,500.
• Unanimously approved the 2011 Law Enforcement Contract with the City of Jenkins in the amount of $40,000.
• Heard from the City Clerk that the Park Board has been discussing the idea of a playground system in Trailside Park. The Park Board has requested to designate the proceeds from the sale of the Chokecherry Trees toward some type of playground equipment. Council Member Malecha moved to designate the proceeds, $2,740, toward the purchase of equipment for Trailside Park. Council Member Sjoblad seconded the motion, which carried 4-1. Council Member Ryan said he was concerned with designating money in this manner.
For complete and detailed minutes of the Pequot Lakes Council meeting go to http://www.pequotlakes-mn.gov/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={DE5D2EA6-BD24-4EBB-845D-36608EF13489}&DE={315518A6-6C0A-4A0F-BF12-EB61A914D84B}

Ruth Ann Hanson
rahanson@explorebrainerdlakes.com

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Highlights of the Crosslake City Council - 11/8/10

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Highlights of the Crosslake City Council meeting of Monday, November 8:
• Heard a presentation from the community, Legion and the Chamber’s Explore Crosslake Committee in regard to new flags and poles in the city. After a five-minute recess to go to view the proposed flag and pole, the council approved the proposal as presented. Next steps are to determine locations for the flag poles and funding for the project.
• Approved the request from the U.S. Army to install flagpoles on the north and south sides of County Road 3 for the purpose of displaying over-the-road banners promoting Crosslake events. Those interested in placing an over-the-road banner must seek city approval.
• Approved the purchase of computers for the library at an estimated cost of $6,000.
• Approved a one-year contract with MN Comp Advisor at a cost of $5,000 to be shared with Crosslake Communications. MN Work Comp will work with the City to better manage workers compensation claims and to reduce insurance rates to the city.
• Approved landscape contractor/excavator licenses for Sunshine Gardens, Dingman Brothers Excavating and M&R Excavating.
• Approved a resolution pertaining to unpaid sewer charges. The resolution states: WHEREAS, the City of Crosslake City Code, Section 11.56 and 11.70 provides that each and every sewer service charge levied by and pursuant to this Chapter is hereby made a lien upon the lot or premises served, and all such charges which are on October 15th of each year past due and delinquent, shall be certified to the County Auditor as taxes or assessments on the real estate; also in this resolution is MN Statute 444.075 Subd. 3e which allows a governing body to certify unpaid sewer charges to the property owner’s taxes for collection.

Detailed minutes of the full meeting.

RuthAnn Hanson
Area Director, Brainerd Lakes Chamber
rhanson@explorebrainerdlakes.com

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Support the Crow Wing County Snowmobile Trails

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For the 16th year, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber is helping to coordinate a fundraising event to defray the costs of grooming and maintaining snowmobile trails in our area. We have 875 miles of grant-in-aid trails, which happen to be some of the most heavily used trails in the state. According to the DNR, there are over 10,000 registered snowmobiles in the Brainerd Lakes Area. Another 3,000 snowmobiles are registered in nearby counties and primarily use our trails. It’s expensive and important to maintain, groom and keep legible signs on all of our trails in order to keep people coming back to our area year after year.

To help meet this years anticipated $500,000 in maintenance expenses, a special fundraising event has been planned. A buffet dinner starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 9, 2011 will take place at the Old Waterfall, 18512 Highway 371, Brainerd, MN 56401 Drawings will start at 3 p.m. Grand Prize: Ski Doo 600 Etec Adrenaline, 1st Prize: Suzuki King Quad 400, 2nd Prize: Aluma 8x10 Aluminum Trailer, 3rd Prize: Log Furniture Bedroom Set. Dinner tickets are $12.50 per person. Additional donations will also be accepted.

The goal of this event is raise $30,000 for grooming efforts. Even with minimal snowfall, the association must pay for groomers and other equipment, insurance and trail items such as signs, posts, culverts and bridges. They raise money through a combination of state funds, charitable gambling, the sale of snowmobile map ads and raffle tickets and events such as fun runs and radar runs. Dues and the Community Sponsorship Program make up the difference.

One example of the efforts the Crow Wing County Snowmobile Association has put forth to better our trail system is the GPS (Global Positioning System) mile markers that have been installed throughout the Lakes Area. This has been added to the Sheriff Departments 911 dispatch system. This new GPS system will aid in safer travel on our snowmobile trails throughout the area. This years map will depict the markers for this new GPS system.

You can join in by becoming a Gold, Silver or Bronze Sponsor:
$300 Gold Sponsorship: Receive 24 tickets to the buffet dinner, recognition in the local media and a membership certificate.
$200 Silver Sponsorship: Receive 16 tickets to the buffet dinner, recognition in the local media and a membership certificate.
$100 Bronze Sponsorship: Receive 8 tickets to the buffet dinner, recognition in the local media and a membership certificate.

Snowmobiling is an important economic benefit to our community and your support of this event is greatly appreciated. A special thanks to the following sponsors for their tremendous support over the past year: Gold Level Sponsors ($5,000+): Brothers Motorsports; Bronze Level Sponsors ($1,000+): Forest Log Furniture, Cragun’s and Power Lodge

For more inforamtion contact Holly at the Brianerd Lakes Chamber or mail a check to: Brainerd Lakes Chamber Welcome Center, 7393 State Highway 371, Baxter, MN 56425.

For trail conditions in the Brainerd Lakes Area bookmark this page.

Gretchen Ennis
Tourism Director
Phone (218) 822-7118
gennis@explorebrainerdlakes.com

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Minneapolis Federal Reserve Business Confidence Survey

Friday, November 5, 2010

As part of its mission to understand regional business conditions, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is seeking insights on business confidence, and the source of that confidence - or lack thereof - from Minnesota businesses like yours.

The Minneapolis Fed has a 7-question online survey that need not take more than five minutes. Your responses are confidential, and summary results (only) will be reported in mid-December (in a special January issue of the fedgazette).

To participate in the survey, click here, or go to:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/business_confidence_survey

Thank you for your input on this critically important topic.

Ronald A. Wirtz
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
www.minneapolisfed.org

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Crow Wing County Proposes Revisions to Zoning Ordinance

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Crow Wing County Land Services Department is proposing revisions to the County Zoning Ordinance, which include new performance-based zoning standards for lake lots in Crow Wing County. The revisions include changes in the number and type of zoning districts, in the allowable impervious surface area, and in stormwater management, among other changes.

The ordinance also will serve as a foundation for the county’s Future Land Use Map project.

Although lot sizes and setbacks from lakes are relevant, the proposed ordinance changes consider performance standards as important factors. These performance standards address stormwater management, natural buffers between lakes and lawns, allowable impervious surface area and the need for well-functioning septic systems.
Crow Wing County has detailed information about the proposed changes available online at http://www.co.crow-wing.mn.us/planning___zoning/index.html.

What are your opinions on the proposed changes? Now is the time – through Nov. 19 – to express your opinion. Comments may be submitted to the Crow Wing County Environmental Services unit at environmental.services@co.crow-wing.mn.us or to 322 Laurel St., Suite 14, Brainerd, MN 56401.

County officials are reaching out to community groups encouraging members to submit their comments about the proposed changes. For instance, Chris Pence, Crow Wing County Land Services Supervisor, and John Sumption, of Sumption Environmental and former Cass County Environmental Services Director, who is assisting the county with this project, presented the plan today to the Brainerd Lakes Chamber’s Regional Business Council and the Council encouraged Chamber members to participate in the review process.

After the public comment period, what is the next step? The County Planning Commission will consider the proposed ordinance revisions during a special meeting at 5 p.m. Dec. 13 in the Crow Wing County Board Room in the Historic Courthouse in Brainerd.

Kathi Nagorski, Public Relations & Special Events Coordinator
Brainerd Lakes Chamber

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