The First Dollar Award was presented to The Rock: Dining and Events on February 22 by chamber board members, Scott DeMuth, Sherry Mathiowetz, Cathy Anderson, Crystal Johnson and director Mary Gillespie. Welcome to the Granite Falls Area Chamber of Commerce! The Rock is now open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner. Check out their new $6 lunch specials!
The Yellowstone Trail is an old automobile route that was created across the entire country beginning in 1912 in South Dakota. Today, the route follows mostly along Hwy 212 in the Minnesota stretch, but some of the older routes go through the middle of small towns. One of the early promoters and president from 1917 to 1919 was Michael Dowling. In 1880, Dowling suffered extreme frostbite when he was stranded outside during a blizzard. He lost parts of both legs, his left arm, and fingers on his right hand. He went on to become the principal of the school in Granite Falls, Renville and Olivia and a realtor and newspaper man. The trail was the first transcontinental automobile highway in the United States through the northern tier of states from Washington through Massachusetts. Yet too few people are aware of its existence or its social, political and economic effects on either the local communities or the nation.
Recently, there have been efforts to revive the history of this route throughout the USA. A group of interested community leaders from Granite Falls to Buffalo Lake have been meeting to look for ways to create economic development in the string of small towns along Hwy 212. The Yellowstone Trail is one of the logical tools in this effort along with the history of agriculture and cooperatives. The February meeting took place in Bird Island, showcasing their new Arts and Cultural Center -birdislandculture.com/ Convened by Scott Tedrick, formerly the Granite Falls Advocate Tribune editor who is now at the Renville County Register, this is a way to connect and promote our shared heritage. Ideas about how to accomplish this are just in its infancy stages and include events such as an antique car run, long garage sale or market day, historic museums, the arts, cultural mapping of assets through the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and Yellowstone Trail signage. More information about the trail and detailed maps can be found on their website www.yellowstonetrail.org.
The Granite Falls Area Chamber and CVB had a great year in 2017. The chamber has exciting plans for the upcoming year including increased partnerships with the Granite Falls EDA for marketing and other projects, a monthly scheduled chamber networking event starting in March and a new event the evening before the Fagen Air Show on June 15. With the start of a strategic plan and second planning meeting in December of 2017, a new mission statement was created. " The mission of the Granite Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is to advance prosperity and community by meeting the needs of business and industry by providing information, services and advocacy for its members.” The new vision statement is “ The Granite Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is the organization of choice to promote economic vitality and growth.”
Events are an important part of the work of the chamber and includes advertising and marketing as well as planning. A review of all the chamber events last year include :
- Medallion Hunt during Ole and Lena Days
- Love yer Lefsa shopping event during Ole and Lena Days
-Community Celebration during Ole and Lena Days
-Visit from the State of MN Unemployment Office officials to Granite Falls to answer your questions
- Worked to create a Dementia Friendly Community with the Act on Alzheimer’s program, dementia education luncheon on November 14.
-Riverside Market and Muse every month in the summer funded by a SMAC grant
-Sod House Theater Performances to Granite Falls, 3 performances in August, 2017
-Cowboy Crazy Daze in June
- Western Fest Kickoff and Kid’s Night during Western Fest
-Musical Chairs on Meander Friday Night during the Art Meander
-Santa and Horse drawn wagon rides during Small Business Saturday
One of our important tasks is to encourage shopping locally all year long. During the holiday shopping season we promote the " Elf on the Footbridge" theme to emphasize our unique river location and famous footbridge . Events in December include -
Elf Shopping Passes that get stamped with sales with a $500 drawing to encourage holiday shopping locally.
Elf visits to local businesses and organizations to spread the holiday cheer.
Elf on the Footbridge “elf hunting” in local shops with prizes and coupons for the last 2 weeks before Christmas.
" Shopping with the Elves" where kids can shop and wrap gifts for the families at reduced cost.
Partnering with the EDA and Granite Area Arts Council, the chamber director helped write the Riverside Voices public art grant with ongoing workshops and events involving the public and YME students. The first mural is already done and the project will continue with more artwork on the flood wall in the summer of 2018. The chamber director also up-dates the chamber and CVB websites, blogs on both websites, social media, writes a weekly column in the Advocate Tribune and is a part of organizations that connect the town and area . The chamber office at 807 Prentice St. was just designated an official Explore Minnesota Information Center which will appear in Explore Minnesota Tourism publications in print and online.