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

Lisa Paxton recognized as Outstanding Individual in Tourism

Monday, January 31, 2011

During the annual Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, several organizations, businesses and individuals were recognized for their contributions to the state’s travel industry.

John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, was pleased to announce Lisa Paxton, chief executive officer of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, as the “Outstanding Individual in Tourism” for her long-term work on behalf of the Minnesota tourism industry at the community, regional and state levels. Paxton has served on the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council since 2004 and currently is the chair of the council's public policy committee. She has also served as president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Executives. Paxton was also a catalyst for the unique public/private partnership that developed the Highway 371 Welcome Center and was recognized for her experience in several tourism positions in the Brainerd area.

Chamber Board Director Tom Kavanaugh, of Kavanaughs Resort, said, "Lisa has been a great asset to tourism throughout the Brainerd Lakes area and has worked very hard in assisting our industry at the state level and working with Explore Minnesota Tourism on issues that affect tourism throughout the state. It is, and has been a pleasure working with Lisa on tourism issues and I have always found her to be someone that gets things done and understands how critical tourism is to our area and the state's well being"

The Lodge on Lake Detroit received a “Sustainable Tourism Award” in recognition of their environmentally friendly practices.

Awards are also given annually to note creative, successful tourism marketing programs by Minnesota communities. Recipients of this year’s Travel Marketing Awards of Excellence included the Ely Chamber of Commerce and Visit Duluth. Marketing Awards of Merit were presented to Destination Bloomington and the Caledonia Area Convention and Tourism Bureau.

As the state's tourism office, Explore Minnesota Tourism pursues an entrepreneurial approach, leveraging the state's tourism investment with increased involvement by the private sector. A council of representatives from the state's tourism industry strongly connects Explore Minnesota Tourism with tourism businesses and organizations.

Tourism is an $11 billion industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state’s economy. The leisure and hospitality industry, a major provider of tourism services, employs more than 243,000 Minnesotans.

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Brainerd Lakes Chamber issues survey: Members optimistic about future but remain concerned about uncertainty – December 2010

Cautious optimism sums up the mood of Brainerd Lakes Chamber members as the new year unfolds.

The 2010 Brainerd Lakes Chamber Fall Policy Survey revealed that 70 percent of respondents enjoyed business performance in 2010 that equaled or surpassed their performance in 2009. Less than a quarter of respondents, or 24 percent, said business was worse in 2010 when compared to 2009.

Four out of every five respondents – or 81 percent – said they expected net revenue in 2010 to be at least the same, or even improved, over 2009.

The significant changes businesses have made to reduce their operating expenses contributed to these more positive projections. Business owners and managers are carrying this optimistic outlook forward. About three-fifths of respondents – or 59 percent – said they are more optimistic, while 31 percent are unsure and 10 percent are less optimistic, about the 2011 Brainerd Lakes Area economy.

“When asked about their outlook on the future, many respondents indicated a concern for how government policy decisions will impact their businesses,” said Lisa Paxton, Brainerd Lakes Chamber CEO. “They also said the need to focus on these challenges presented by government involvement has taken away from their ability to focus on operating and rebuilding their businesses.”

Respondents, as part of the survey, expressed a clear message to state legislators – cut government spending and redesign services, which are measures business owners and managers have implemented in recent years. In response to the question what does Minnesota need to do to balance the state budget, 78 percent of respondents said cut government spending, 76 percent said redesign government services and 26 percent said raise taxes. Respondents were allowed to select all that apply. As a result, respondents were allowed to select raising taxes in cooperation with cutting government spending and/or redesigning services.

Other key findings of the survey include:

The cost of employee health insurance continues to be a concern. The majority of respondents, 65 percent, said it is a problem, of which nearly 40 percent said it is a severe problem. Only 50 percent of respondents said they offer employer subsidized health insurance for employees.

Even with the high unemployment in the Brainerd Lakes Area, 69 percent of respondents said finding/hiring qualified, trained workers is a problem while 65 percent said finding/hiring reliable workers is a problem. Respondents, who could rate the problem from slight to severe, said these are mostly slight problems.

Nearly all respondents find value in the advocacy work of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, on behalf of their business interests, at the local and state government levels. For instance, 77 percent of respondents said it is very valuable and 19 percent said it is somewhat valuable when Chamber representatives are at the table representing business interests when local government is making decisions that affect area businesses

The survey was e-mailed to 890 of the primary representatives – owners and managers --- of Brainerd Lakes Chamber members. Completed surveys were received, in November and December, from 162 people – a response rate of about 18 percent – representing a wide cross-section of Chamber business members. The response rate represents a 95 percent confidence level, plus or minus 4.2 percent.

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How would you improve the business climate in Minnesota?

Monday, January 17, 2011

How would you answer this question? Rep. Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska, chair of the Minnesota Commerce and Regulatory Reform Committee, will be the guest during a Brainerd Lakes Chamber listening session at 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Northland Arboretum, 14250 Conservation Drive, Baxter.

In addition to serving as the chair of what was previously known as the Commerce and Labor Committee, Hoppe will serve as one of the House’s new assistant majority leaders.

He wants to know how state government is impacting your businesses.

The roundtable discussion will provide business owners and managers with an opportunity to speak freely and openly with the committee chairman about what state government can and should do to improve the business climate in Minnesota.

Nearly all legislation that affects business in Minnesota comes through the
commerce committee. That is why it is important when a House assistant majority leader offers to listen that our community business leaders are willing to be heard. Come join us January 21 at the Northland Arboretum!

To register for this free event, visit or call (218) 829-2838.


More than 100 comments received on Crow Wing County's proposed zoning ordinance revision

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crow Wing County citizens took full advantage of an opportunity to provide their thoughtful feedback to the county's Land Services Department in regard to the proposed revisions to the Crow Wing County Zoning Ordinance.

More than 100 comments were received by the county!

County staff now will compile, analyze and consider the public comments over the next 30 to 60 days and forward a revised report to the Planning Commission.

A public hearing, likely in February, then will be scheduled before the Planning Commission about the proposed revisions. The Planning Commission will make its recommendation to the Crow Wing County Board, which will host an additional public hearing on the revised proposal before taking final action.

The ordinance revisions and public comments submitted can be viewed on the County website at Questions regarding the proposed revisions or about the process may be directed to the County at or by calling (218) 824-1125.

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


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