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New 'community brand' rolls out Thursday

For more than a year, a steering committee has been working in association with the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber and CivicBrand to create a new brand for the area.

The results of the project will be revealed next week.

The public is invited to view a documentary video produced for the roll out. It will be shown in downtown Park Rapids during 2nd Street Stage Thursdays, June 14 and 21, and then will be available on YouTube.

"The goal of the community brand is to unite our network of small towns — from Osage to Akeley, Menahga to Lake George — around a single, inclusive brand that creates a positive image of our community throughout the state," said Molly Luther, the steering committee chair. "We hope this brand will help differentiate our lakes area from other Northwoods communities as we compete for employees, investment and visitors."

The CivicBrand team, based in Richardson, Texas, led the steering committee through a ten-month discovery process. CivicBrand visited the area three times — in August, September and February — to experience the various seasons and ways in which the culture and economy change throughout the year.

Throughout the discovery process, CivicBrand and the steering committee held roundtables with community and business leaders in Dorset, Nevis, Akeley, Lake George, Osage, Menahga and Park Rapids.

"The main lesson learned from the roundtable discussions was that everyone agrees, almost unanimously, that we're stronger together speaking with one voice," Luther said. "But it was also very clear that once you say 'Park Rapids lakes area' all the communities outside Park Rapids feel excluded, and rightfully so. The challenge to us was then to discover the values shared throughout our area and to establish a brand that represents these values and the communities equally."

The new brand principles — broadly defined as family and tradition, access to the outdoors, pristine waters, strong and proud people, and intentionality — will be discussed more in the documentary video.

"The brand is already here, in your communities," Ryan Short, CivicBrand founder and Creative Director, told the Park Rapids Downtown Business Association last winter. "It's our job to unearth it and provide you with tools that make it easy to communicate and share your brand."

Included in the roll out will be a website for visitors looking to explore the area and and a live/work website for job-seekers considering relocating.

"This is not just a tourism project," Luther said. "We also want to help large employers fill jobs. The live/work website lets people imagine the lifestyle they'll have if they move here. And let me tell you, CivicBrand has told a beautiful story through the documentary and these websites. It's moving and makes me very proud to call this home."

Funding for the project, so far, has been provided by the Park Rapids City Lodging Association, Blandin Foundation, Park Rapids Downtown Business Association, Hubbard County, Northwest Minnesota Foundation and Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber. The steering committee is currently raising funds for the implementation phase.

Parties interested in supporting the project can contact Butch De La Hunt at or 218-732-4111.