Unfortunately, summer lake season is also road construction season in Minnesota.

And the twain shall meet for not one, but two, summers in Pelican Rapids: 2024 and 2025. 

Business owners are as nervous as cats on 95-degree asphalt, as the construction will limit access to their storefronts, disrupt traffic flow, and reduce parking.  

One bit of good news: A special liaison will be hired by the contractors, probably May of 2024. This individual, ideally a local, will be in constant contact with merchants during the construction—updating the community on schedules, timelines, detours, and other disruptions.  

Business and property owners got an early glimpse of the Highway59 and 108 reconstruction project at two informational meetings March 20. 

Outlining the complex construction aspects was Bob Schlieman, Apex Engineering, representing the city of Pelican Rapids.

The Highway 59 alignment, smack dab through Pelican’s downtown business district, will be completed in the 2024 season. The Highway 108 reconstruction, east and west, will be in 2025.  

A second session was hosted by the Small Business Development Administration. “Thrive” during construction was the message. About 30 business and property owners attended the sessions.  

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is partnering with the City of Pelican Rapids for the 2024 resurfacing and reconstruction project on Highways 59 and 108 in Pelican Rapids.

Trenches of ten feet or more will be excavated on Pelican’s Main Street, with new water and sewer lines at the deepest. 

On top, new street, curb and gutter, sidewalk-trail facilities, street lights, and a pair of roundabouts on each end of downtown.  

The highway reconstruction, combined with the dam removal and river restoration; and the Heart of Lakes Trail; will be transformational for Pelican Rapids. But first, businesses must survive the two-year construction.

Among the “threats” outlined by the SBDC:

  • Parking & front door access
  • Decline in sales, tight cash flow
  • Workflow, workforce & inventory
  • Competition & alternatives
  • Consumer behavior and perceptions

One way that the SBDC can assist is to work one-on-one with businesses to create a personalized risk management plan.

Funded through the Small Business Administration, MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, as well as regional grants/donations, SBDC’s one-on-one business consulting services come at no cost to clients. 

Call the SBDC office at 218-299-6605.

Tips for thriving during highway construction
• Get informed ahead of time, stay involved!
• Leverage mitigation programs, resources
• Befriend construction contractors and crew
• Form alliances, collaborate, pool resources
• Build dedicated cash reserves
• Focus on marketing, reach, communication
• Utilize media strategically
• Celebrate the start, finish
• Create a Strategic Business Plan