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Armory Square to receive Quality of Place Award

Armory Square in downtown Park Rapids will receive a Quality of Place Award from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation at their annual state of the foundation luncheon on Friday, Oct. 21.

The award recognizes the foundation's partners, grantees, training participants and loan clients that have helped to develop community assets and enhance the quality of places in northwest Minnesota.

Inspired by the City of Park Rapids' 2008 Comprehensive Revitalization Plan, Armory Square was conceived as an adaptive redevelopment of the former National Guard Armory that was closed in 1992 and remained vacant for 20 years.

With renovations nearly complete, Armory Square now hosts performances by the Northern Light Opera Company, arts and cultural events presented by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council, Nemeth Art Center, Kitchigami Regional Library System and Park Rapids Area Library as well as programs and lectures presented by the Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning, the P.R.A.H.S. Drama Department, Downtown Business Association, 2nd Street Stage Concert Series, Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and a variety of local small business events and trade shows.

The Park Rapids Economic Development Authority will acquire ownership of the Armory Square project with grant funds appropriated by the state legislature in 2014 after the building renovations are totally completed later this month to continue its development as a regional center for arts and cultural events, doing business as the Upper Mississippi Center for the Arts. Park Rapids Community Development Corporation will manage day-to-day operations and schedule public programming on behalf of the City.

Armory Square Management Corporation received loan funds from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and the Industries for Park Rapids revolving loan fund to finance the redevelopment project, among other sources including Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation.

A charitable fund has also been established with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation for financial support of programs, projects and activities, such as facility development, arts education, arts activities, and cultural events in the Park Rapids area. Donate online to the Upper Mississippi Center for the Arts Fund at www.nwmf.org. Click "Find a Fund" and enter the fund name.

The Northwest Minnesota Foundation is a public nonprofit community foundation serving 12 counties by investing resources, facilitating collaboration, and promoting philanthropy to make the region a better place to live and work.

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