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Bateman attends tourism roundtable

Jennifer Bateman of Two Inlets Resort met with Gov. Mark Dayton and other tourism reps, the resort owner providing input on Aquatic Invasive Species and the need for high-speed Internet. (Submitted photo)

A panel of 12 tourism industry representatives gave input recently at a roundtable with Governor Mark Dayton. Jennifer Bateman, owner of Two Inlets Resort north of Park Rapids, was invited to give input.

The roundtable was Saturday, Oct. 20 at Grand View Lodge near Nisswa. Representatives gave input on obstacles to growing their business and employment.

A number of important issues came up, including workforce readiness, fees and costs, high-speed Internet, post Labor Day school start, housing, water levels of lakes, Aquatic Invasive Species, state health care exchange, funding for tourism promotion, bidding for state meetings, vacation home rental, trails, and transportation access.

"The particular topics I addressed were AIS and the need for DSL Internet in our area," Bateman said.

She represented owner-operated resorts at this particular gathering, and the Congress of Minnesota Resorts, which is a statewide resort association. The CMR exists to help family owned and operated resorts in Minnesota continue as a viable segment of the Minnesota tourism industry. The CMR's primary emphasis is in education, legislation and marketing.

"I simply expressed to the governor that our lack of DSL limited our business in two ways," Bateman said. "I am unable to provide to my resort guests what they now expect on vacation, which is Internet access and speed like they have at home, and ... as a business owner, with the limited amount of expensive broadband that I am able to purchase for any given month, I am limited on my ability to learn."

She cited the limitations for listening to webinars, doing research such as watching videos used by other businesses for promotion and marketing her business, such as checking website statistics or posting videos or updates.

The governor did not disagree about the need for high-speed Internet access, Bateman said. He had someone from his office contact Bateman the next week to talk about the subject.

The governor has a goal of having broadband border to border within some timeframe and has a task force put together to look at the problem.

One of the problems that has been identified through the task force is "double digging," Bateman said. This is when one company plows in electrical lines and then a couple years later another company plows in fiber optic or phone lines. If companies coordinated their efforts it would be a better use of time and money, the task force noted.

There are pockets across the state that do not offer DSL Internet and Hubbard County is one of these pockets. Most of these pockets across the state are in rural areas.

In regards to AIS, Bateman said she was opposed to radical measures to control the spread such as closing public accesses. That would hurt tourism in the state.

This roundtable was one of several Governor Dayton is having throughout the state to address issues in different sectors from mining to medical.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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