PARK RAPIDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: The first date of economic development
Tourism in the Heartland Lakes Area "will be firing up in the next couple of weeks. As it does, let’s be sure to welcome all visitors with open arms and a special sense of hospitality," says Chamber President/CEO Derek Ricke.
Remember the flood of emotions that accompany first dates?
The memories of those feelings are still powerful, even if it’s been a while since your last first date.
It’s been over a decade since my last first date, and when I reflect on that night, I can still recall the nervous energy leading up to it.
I was reminded of that experience at a recent Chamber lunch-and-learn. Former Chamber director and current Explore Minnesota representative Nicole Lalum referred to tourism as the first date of economic development. Her comment instantly struck a chord with me. It was so true!
Not only do tourism destinations evoke similar levels of planning, anticipation and excitement, they also lead to a significant number of long-term connections. Family trips to a resort while growing up lead to a retirement location. A long-time cabin becomes a great place to work remotely. Visiting a friend’s lake place or hunting shack fuels a desire for a change of scenery when a new job opportunity comes along.
These are stories we hear frequently in the Heartland Lakes Area. They’re not just stories, though. They are real world examples of what Minnesota’s tourism agency refers to as the “Halo Effect.”
Explore Minnesota research has indicated that after visiting Minnesota, people are:
- 54% more likely to start a business here;
- 76% more likely to view Minnesota as a good place to live;
- 106% more likely to view Minnesota as a good place to start a career.
Knowing the quality of life available in the Heartland Lakes, I would argue those numbers are likely even higher for visitors to our area.
Everyone knows tourism is a significant driver for our local economy, and that engine will be firing up in the next couple of weeks. As it does, let’s be sure to welcome all visitors with open arms and a special sense of hospitality. Many of the people we meet will be our future neighbors, employees and business owners.