University of Minnesota Extension Educator Ryan Pesch outlined the Pelican Rapids Business Retension and Expansion survey results at a Dec. 5 Chamber meeting and holiday social, left.
John Ohman, Pelican Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce board member, spoke at the meeting, right.

By Louis Hoglund

Four priorities identified in Pelican business expansion-retention 

Forty-five Pelican Rapids area businesses–employing more than 1,000–were interviewed to develop business retention and expansion strategies.

The findings and results of those surveys were presented Dec. 5, by Ryan Pesch, of the University of Minnesota Extension Service–which coordinated the project.

The interviews provided  an interesting snapshot of the Pelican Rapids area business community.

• 66 percent of those interviewed stated that they generated sales from within 25 miles of the Pelican Rapids area.

• 27 percent indicated that they plan to expand at their current location.

• 53 percent indicated they were planning to invest in the area through expanding and modernizing.

• 18 percent reported difficulty recruiting both workers with adequate labor skills, and professional and management level staff.

• The largest single sector represented in the survey was retail trade, at 24 percent. Finance-insurance was 16 percent of the businesses represented; followed by professional-technical at 13 percent, and 11 percent in health care and social assistance.

Living and working in an area of recreational opportunities, such as the lakes and Maplewood State Park, was listed as an attribute of the area.

Survey respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with the school, fire protection, and highway location.

Lower satisfaction was recorded in the housing supply, child care, and incentives to attract, retain and grow businesses.

High satisfaction was recorded with local organizations, ranging from churches to veterans groups to civic organizations.

Chamber board member John Ohman said that “all small communities are fighting to bring in the next small business to their town.” One of his plans is refining the structure of the Pelican Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce to include a government committee, to help streamline the process when a new business is considering Pelican Rapids.

Tony Huseby, who is considering a small business in Pelican Rapids, said he will  be working with a committee to develop a “Business Tool Kit” that would be a “one stop shop” to assist business.

Marketing Pelican Rapids would have both “outward” and “inward” strategies, said CJ Holl.

In addition to marketing Pelican to a wide area, the survey pointed to a need to “market Pelican Rapids to itself,” said Holl.  He pointed to the “Moorhead Proud” campaign that promoted civic pride and engagement.