Pequot Lakes: TCI steering committee disbands, reviews accomplishments

Pequot Lakes' Thriving Communities Initiative steering committee disbanded after its Wednesday, April 18, meeting, when members talked about what they have accomplished in the last year and a half.


Pequot Lakes' Thriving Communities Initiative steering committee disbanded after its Wednesday, April 18, meeting, when members talked about what they have accomplished in the last year and a half.

The group, facilitated by the Initiative Foundation, formed in the fall of 2016 to prepare for changes in the city's future, including the Highway 371 four-lane bypass. Nearly 200 citizens gave input at the program's beginning, which evolved into three main task forces: economy, quality of life, and work force.

Steering committee members formed those task forces and worked to complete projects in the next year and a half.

Economy task force

The Economy task force was originally formed to develop programs, incentives and rewards for new businesses and strengthen existing businesses; promote community identity and marketing; and further develop the town center park as a unifying feature.


Task force chair Mark Jurchen listed projects his group has tackled in the last year and a half, which include trademarking the city's new slogan, "The heart of the good life," which is currently working its way through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; a new Facebook page titled "Heart of the Good Life" dedicated to community events and information; a new website - - that lists information about various community organizations and businesses; and the issue of highway signs for businesses, which Chamber Director Chris Monroe is working on jointly with the city council.

"And then I think one thing that's left yet ... is marketing and promotional activities for the city for both businesses and the community," Jurchen said, adding that his group is working on that project along with the Economic Development Commission.

Workforce task force

The priorities identified for the workforce task force at the beginning of the process included: better technology infrastructure for students and remote workers, student internships and keep investing in good schools.

Pequot Lakes Superintendent Chris Lindholm - who chaired the task force - believes the group met those goals.

"As it pertains to technology and infrastructure, our economic development council has pushed hard on getting our business park wired. Our local provider here, TDS, is part of a major league grant that is filling in gaps of unserviced areas that do pertain to our school district, so we've made progress there," Lindholm said.

He added that several students completed internships at local businesses this year, and the school held both a career fair and a job fair this year, which checks of the second priority.

Goal No. 3, Lindholm said, was met with re-creation of the Patriot Foundation, which will support scholarships for graduating seniors, fund innovation grants and support strategic efforts to support Pequot Lakes students. The foundation's official kickoff is set for Friday, May 18, on the Breezy Belle at Breezy Point Resort.


Rental properties for families and workforce housing was another priority identified for the task force in 2016. Lindholm said there is still work to be done on that front, but work is in progress through the city's comprehensive plan revision and Economic Development Commission projects.

Quality of life task force

Quality of life task force priorities included: expanding and communicating year-round recreational activities and opportunities; utilize community facilities and activities the city already has and collaborate more; create traditions and a sense of community; and a one-stop website with volunteer, recreational and commercial opportunities.

Task force members were not present at the April 18 meeting but had previously discussed work being done on a mobile app to map out hiking, biking and ski trails in and around Pequot Lakes. Planned upgrades to Trailside Park include a skating rink and splash pad that would add recreational activities for the community as well.

In terms of creating traditions to promote a sense of community, the city already has Bean Hole Days and the annual Fourth of July celebrations. But a new event is on the horizon and will cater more specifically to Pequot Lakes residents. The Chamber of Commerce is planning an event in conjunction with Bean Hole Days in July that will honor the city's business of the year, volunteer of the year and citizen of the year.

"Bean Hole Days and Fourth of July feel like they're for tourists in a lot of ways," Lindholm said. "But this will be really focused on us as a community."

The event is set for the evening of Tuesday, July 10.

Regarding the one-stop website for opportunities in the city, steering committee members said that could easily be manifested in the form of a Facebook page or a new tab on the already-existing city website in the near future.


Greater Pequot Lakes Community Foundation

The Greater Pequot Lakes Community Foundation was created through the Initiative Foundation as a fiscal agent for future TCI projects in the community. Foundation board members will grant funds for different projects and help create partnerships among people or groups who are interested in working on and fundraising for similar initiatives.

The foundation covers not only Pequot Lakes but also the cities of Jenkins and Breezy Point, along with Jenkins, Ideal, Loon Lake and Maple townships.

Related Topics: PEQUOT LAKES
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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