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Editorial: Chamber surveys to help tell 'community story'

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber is distributing online surveys about Park Rapids to area visitors to learn more about the key themes and narratives about living and visiting the Park Rapids area. The 10-minute surveys asks questions about what people love about the Park Rapids lakes area, what makes the region unique, and what attracted and keeps people living in the Park Rapids lakes area.

The information gathered through this survey will be used to guide Park Rapids' community brand, with the goal of building a positive image that generates economic activity and attracts the desired residents, visitors and businesses.

Telling a strong community story will also help residents and visitors identify with and embrace the Park Rapids lakes area as their home, strengthening their emotional ties and sense of inclusion.

The project has involved the entire region, with this specific survey being conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension and Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota.

There are two surveys related to the community branding project. One survey is for residents and the other for tourists.

The PRLA Chamber is distributing the 10-minute online survey about Park Rapids to area visitors. Businesses are encouraged to email the survey link to guests/customers and post the link on social media. A similar survey has been sent to residents and second homeowners by mail and is available online.

Survey for Park Rapids residents:

Survey for visitors to Park Rapids:

Park Rapids business and community leaders are working on a branding initiative to, among other things, identify who we are and what we want to look like down the road. It's a ground-up effort led by the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce to hear from local voices sharing unique perspectives.

As part of this same branding initiative, the Chamber hosted three discussion groups in March that were also facilitated by the Center for Small Towns. The three groups consisted of residents, county and city representatives, and business owners/managers from many industries including services, tourism, and lodging.

Individuals were asked during the discussions in March to identify the area's greatest assets. Easy enough, you might think - woods, water, and family. Three different groups met and the same underlying themes emerged - outdoor recreation, unparalleled natural beauty, arts and culture, family and generational ties, community pride, and opportunities.

But, what makes us different from other parts of the state? What came out of those March discussions were we have beautiful, old-growth pine trees and crystal clear water here. We're off the big highways and you still can take a drive out of town on quiet, winding roads.

We have an unpretentious, small town atmosphere, and are a place where people want to vacation. It's also a place where homegrown folks want to stay, or raise their family, or retire.

There's an energy in Park Rapids that is leading to new development this spring and summer. Good things are happening and some of the earlier discussions highlighted just that.

Park Rapids and surrounding communities value the outdoors. People are drawn to the lakes and pines, drawn to the quintessential Minnesota Northwoods. That's why people visit and it's a big reason we live here.

We all know what we love about the Park Rapids area and the Chamber wants to hear our stories, as well as stories of why people love visiting here.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association encourage people to complete the surveys listed above to help craft our community story.