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Effort invites businesses, individuals to ‘Ride the Wave’

Members of the “Ride the Wave: 60/90 Corridor Initiative” steering committee include Drew Hage (from left), Justin Lessman, Keith Stubbe, Abraham Algadi, Naomi Pederson, Lori Henning and Kurt Lintelman. Submitted Photo

JACKSON — Business and community leaders from across southwest Minnesota are working together to market the region as a top spot in the nation for businesses to locate and grow and individuals to live, work and play.

Dubbed the “Ride the Wave: 60/90 Corridor Initiative,” the coordinated effort to promote the communities of southwest Minnesota and maintain and attract businesses, employees and families has been developing behind the scenes for the past several months. Now, with a just-launched website and marketing program in hand, the time seems right to spread word not only about the effort itself, says initiative chairman Kurt Lintelman, but also about the area being marketed.

“The initiative is being led by a dedicated group of leaders from several communities in the area,” said Lintelman, of Round Lake. “Much effort has been expended by the group for the betterment of our communities and the area as a whole, and I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. But the focus of the promotion needs to be not on the group and the effort, but on what drives them — that being the vast opportunity available for businesses and employees within the Highway 60 and Interstate 90 corridor.”

The effort began last year, when the Blandin Foundation awarded the effort a grant with which to develop economic development strategies leveraging the next-generation fiber networks deployed by Lakefield-based Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services and Windom-based Windomnet. The focus of the initial funding was the formulation of strategies working with local economic development associations, educational institutions and other interested parties to market the region as a high-technology destination for businesses and teleworkers.

A core group of officials from local and area economic development offices, chambers of commerce and marketing firms gathered with SMBS and Windomnet officials in June to begin planning.

Subcommittees were formed and members began gathering and analyzing data, visiting with other stakeholders and formulating a marketing plan.

“Ride the Wave” was selected to serve as the initiative’s brand, and a logo was developed.

“Members thought ‘Ride the Wave’ encompasses what we are and what we seek to do,” Lintelman said. “It can represent riding the wave of technology, people moving here, grain and lakes throughout the region, utilizing assets of cutting-edge manufacturing, cutting-edge technology, renewable energy, value-added ag — all that and more. Plus, the shape of the wave reflects the outline of our corridor, from Highway 60 on the west to Highway 71 on the east and Interstate 90 at our base.”

A social media presence and website — — were launched, marketing collateral has been developed and outreach to various other stakeholders — local municipal councils among them — continue.

“We’re really targeting two general groups — businesses and individuals,” Lintelman said. “We want our existing businesses to grow and new businesses to come. At the same time, we want people to realize the vast opportunity that awaits them here and for new people to move here to live, work and play — or move back. That’s our two-pronged objective.”

Among the selling points for businesses are the ease of doing business, next-generation technology, infrastructure and low cost of doing business. For individuals, quality of life, technology, housing and cost of living are being touted.

Lintelman admits the website is a starting point. Still to come are testimonials and more developed content.

“We purposefully launched the site without it being overly robust,” he said. “It’s a framework, a step forward in attaining our objectives. We want to begin to raise awareness and create our identity.

“Our hope is that the site will spark more information and content to be submitted to us. This effort has many stakeholders and we want everybody to contribute.”

Included within the 60/90 Corridor are the communities of Bingham Lake, Brewster, Heron Lake, Jackson, Lakefield, Okabena, Round Lake, Wilder, Windom and Worthington and the counties of Cottonwood, Jackson and Nobles.