The Pequot Lakes Thriving Communities Initiative steering committee learned about a new town slogan in the works when it met Wednesday, May 17, at Pequot Lakes City Hall.
Mark Jurchen, chair of the economy task force, said his group came up with "The Heart of the Good Life" as a possible slogan for Pequot Lakes. The next step is to seek city council feedback, Jurchen said, and then the registration process can begin.
Jurchen said the city can register the slogan with the state for about $50, but that doesn't include copyright. National copyright would cost the city roughly $1,500 to do with legal counsel, or about $500 to do itself.
"The Heart of the Good Life," which Jurchen said he didn't find in use anywhere else in the country, would be a branding mechanism the city could use long into the future.
The steering committee agreed to send the slogan on for city council approval.
Also in Jurchen's economy task force update was different options the group is considering to use as a fund for future projects. The three options are: creating an Economic Development Authority, re-creating the Pequot Lakes Area Development Organization (PLADO), or creating a group that's a combination of an EDA and the city's existing Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
The group is still looking into all of the options and has not made a decision yet.
Jurchen, along with Pequot Lakes Superintendent Chris Lindholm, told the committee about an idea they received from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to host a city-wide open house in early summer. The purpose would be to publicize Pequot Lakes businesses in light of the four-lane highway opening east of downtown.
"It's a PR move to say, 'We're still here' and 'Gee, we're not five miles off the highway; we're barely off the highway,'" Lindholm said.
Suggestions for the open house included holding a public forum of sorts at one business or picking a day where several businesses simply offer specials as a promotion for the city. The latter option gained more support, so Jenna Crawford said she would talk to someone at the Brainerd and Pequot Lakes chambers of commerce to further discuss the idea.
Molly Zins and Jim Park gave updates from the quality of life task force, which included a welcome website, bike rentals and a mapping tool for trails.
Zins said the walk/bike/ski subcommittee wants to develop a mobile app that maps out hiking, biking and skiing trails in the area. Right now the project is in the research stages, and Zins said she was set to meet with Department of Natural Resources staff members later May 17.
She also said the subcommittee has been looking into a bike rental service. Crawford said the chamber has been researching that as well and is looking at a program similar to Nice Ride in the Twin Cities, where several communities along the Paul Bunyan Trail - from Pequot Lakes to Bemidji - would have bike rental stations. Nothing definitive has been decided.
Park said a rough version of a Welcome to Pequot Lakes website is in the works.
As an update for the workforce task force, Lindholm said the group is getting closer to re-establishing the Patriot Foundation, which would help with scholarships and other funding for the school district. A June 7 meeting is scheduled, where the task force will meet with an Initiative Foundation representative to discuss the creation of a foundation.
Lindholm's goal is to have the Patriot Foundation up and running by homecoming this fall.
At the April steering committee meeting, members discussed using Community Action of Pequot Lakes as a passthrough for TCI funding. Mayor Nancy Adams said at the May 17 meeting that she believes Community Action is too small to accommodate all of TCI's funding. But she added that the group could take small donations and grants for now until a bigger foundation is established.
Initiative Foundation representative Michelle Kiley said she heard from a Breezy Point resident who is interested in partnering with Pequot Lakes to create the kind of foundation TCI wants. Though committee members agreed that collaboration can be positive, the general consensus was hesitancy to partner with anyone outside Pequot Lakes, as the needs of the city could get lost if other communities are involved.
"I would pose the question, 'What's the point of the fund?' If it's to build a downtown Pequot Lakes park, well, that's a Pequot Lakes problem," Lindholm said. "If it's to cultivate healthy quality of life avenues for people in the area, that's a whole lot broader than downtown Pequot Lakes. I might throw out that we're not ready to answer that question."
Ultimately, City Administrator/Clerk Nancy Malecha advised Kiley to get more information from the Breezy Point citizen about the purpose of the fund and work from there.
The next TCI steering committee meeting will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at Pequot Lakes City Hall. The goal of the TCI process is to plan for Pequot Lakes' future and the changes a four-lane highway just east of downtown will bring.