Our View: Wabasha center aims to keep business local
At the mention of exporting business, many minds will turn to companies moving their manufacturing or customer service operations overseas.
In Wabasha, some of those discussions have been about weddings. It's not that brides and grooms are opting for exotic locations. Rather, it's the fact that they're leaving town to hold their wedding receptions.
According to Bill Jewson, a member of the committee planning a new regional event center, the city's hotels have hosted 85 wedding parties in the last year but only 15 receptions. Most of the brides and grooms have taken their business out of town after saying "I do."
That's one of the reasons the city and the Wabasha-Kellogg Chamber of Commerce are joining forces to build an event center aimed at helping local events expand and keeping other business in town. While questions regarding location have been raised, the concept is a perfect fit for Wabasha, which offers an attractive community, as well as the National Eagle Center.
Regardless of location, the event center will be a way to keep business in town while also spurring new opportunities.
It's something more regional communities need to consider. Throughout southeast Minnesota, there are attractions that lure visitors to town, but are there enough amenities to keep them there?
As regional growth continues, we encourage area communities to be open to opportunities and examine local needs.
Wabasha has done it and likely will start seeing rewards once the planned $1.8 million center is built. There's no reason other communities shouldn't do the same.
Austin effort remains on target
As Rochester prepares for a series of downtown business closings at the start of the year, Austin residents aren't letting one of their businesses close without at least trying to be heard.
Led by Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold, a committee of volunteers is attempting to convince Target it should keep its doors open in Mower County. The retailer has announced its Austin location will be one of 11 stores closing Feb. 1.
While we don't want to second-guess Target's decision, we can't help but note the closing will leave Austin residents with three choices if they are hoping to continue to remain Target customers. They can head to Owatonna, Rochester or Mason City, Iowa — distances of 33, 41 and 50 miles.
So, while we join Borgerson-Nesvold and her fellow Target customers in wondering why the company is leaving a city poised to see change and growth, we believe the true rewards of their effort will be building community connections. As the volunteers join together with a common goal, they likely will strengthen bonds and find common ground to improve their community.
Target may leave in a few months, but we expect those bonds will remain. And we hope they will help build a foundation for further community growth.
When that happens, Austin and its residents will have something that's better than any preferred retailer.
Chief takes community policing to next level
As fingers continue to point at police officers throughout the nation in the aftermath of grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and New York, we'd like to do some finger-pointing of our own. In this case, we'd like to point to Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson.
We applaud Peterson's decision to take part in Saturday's local demonstration against alleged police brutality. Dressed in uniform, he joined about 125 area residents as they marched from Kmart's parking lot to Peace Plaza.
He must have known some in the crowd have ill feelings toward people in his profession. Yet, he joined them. "We take justice for all seriously," he said Saturday, and he reiterated the point Wednesday night during a public forum organized by the Council on Black Minnesotans, Christ United Methodist Church and the Post-Bulletin.
We particularly like the fact that Peterson noted it is up to him and other law enforcement supervisors to make sure police officers have the training and equipment needed to ensure incidents like those in Ferguson and New York don't happen here.
We know it's not just a case of jumping on the bandwagon to grab some spotlight in the wake of nationwide concern about the actions of police officers in diverse communities. Peterson has been working for months to create a police oversight commission to help guide policy within his department. While hammering out details about who will be represented on the citizen's committee, Peterson has noted he wants input on what the community expects from his department.
"At the end of the day, it's not about law enforcement," he said Wednesday night. "It's about how you want to be policed."
Whether it's sharing local residents' concerns or working hard to make sure our diverse community has a voice, we feel Peterson's actions are doing just that — providing the community with what it expects.