By Joshua Schuetz
Members of the Pelican Rapids business community turned tension around a project into an opportunity for promoting local enterprise and community marketing, thanks to the efforts of CEDA team member Jordan Grossman and the Pelican Rapids EDA.
This year, a street reconstruction project underway through a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Pelican Rapids will affect the downtown area of the city, something Grossman said was worrying local business owners.
“Our downtown district is the largest commercial zone in city limits, and there was tension between business owners and the city council previous to CEDA entering the community due to a lack of education on resources the city has to offer and outdated communication practices, so it became a point of discussion at our EDA meetings,” Grossman said.
One of the EDA’s board members is a business owner who will be affected by the street project, and, as conversations evolved, a community event was held with a private consultant for business owners to discuss the project and how to both market their businesses and inform the community and travelers about how to access them during the project’s duration.
Grossman and a group of downtown business owners started “PR: Find Your Path”, a group dedicated to community marketing and business promotion. The organization’s Facebook page, which launched in November, already has 200 followers, and the group is currently working toward a 501c3 designation.
“A private development group pledged $5,000, which the EDA matched, and we raised about $3,000 from our ‘Main Drag’ event in November,” she said. The Complete Streets project will include two roundabouts, so this event was an opportunity for one and all to come drag the main strip of town together one last time. “Another cool thing is that the president of the marketing group is a business owner who is also one of our new EDA board members.”
When downtown Pelican Rapids’ streets are being updated, the group will use that funding for signage, digital advertising and radio ads to let the public know that Pelican Rapids Is open for business.
“The Facebook page is not just for business owners to follow; it’s for residents and shoppers as well, because part of our messaging will be how to access businesses when the project starts,” Grossman said.
Grossman said conversations are underway on how to use the group to promote Pelican Rapids beyond the duration of the street project.
“That initial conversation was about whether it’d just be a group for the project or whether it would continue as a marketing hub for the community, community events and being a resource for businesses in town,” she said. “There’s excitement about having a local group to provide these resources and messaging, and Pelican Rapids is becoming beautified through the Street Project as well as through internal community efforts.”