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Positive Pequot Lakes business and community update shared

The Brainerd Lakes Chamber board gathered at MN Traders Co. in downtown Pequot Lakes and met with the Pequot Lakes Chamber Advisory Board and its director, the Pequot Lakes mayor and Pequot Lakes School superintendent

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Pete Mohs
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The Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce board of directors received a positive business and community update when they visited Pequot Lakes on Thursday, Sept. 15.

The board gathered at MN Traders Co. in downtown Pequot Lakes and met with the Pequot Lakes Chamber Advisory Board and its director Nichole Heinen, Pequot Lakes Mayor Tyler Gardner and Pequot Lakes School Superintendent Kurt Stumpf.

Each gave updates and shared stories of a community moving in a positive direction.

The Pequot Lakes presentation began with Heinen reporting on the success of 2022 summer events - Stars & Stripes Days (with 50 parade entries and approximately 15,000 people attending) and Bean Hole Days (with 31 crafters and approximately 4,000 in attendance).

Heinen said the chamber is enjoying a 20% gain in membership, plus more than 3,200 visitors to the Pequot Lakes Chamber office last month, the highest August total since 2015.

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Heinen talked about the Explore Pequot Lakes Business Meetings, which began in March. Five businesses have been showcased as hosts for the monthly gatherings, which are a free networking event held from 7:45-9 a.m. the last Wednesday of every month.

Businesses that have hosted the event so far include Lonesome Cottage Furniture Co., MN Traders Co., Sarah's Kitchen, The Pulse and Shiloh Assisted Living.

The next meeting will be at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Savi Skin Studio in the Jack Pine Center in Pequot Lakes. The year will round out with hosts Sibley Manufacturing on Oct. 26, the Pequot Lakes Library on Nov. 30 and Baxter Insurance Group/Trinity Business Partners on Dec. 28.

The meetings are open to both chamber and nonchamber members.

Heinen's goals include having chamber advisory board members and herself meet with member businesses, establishing an ambassador team and recruiting volunteers for events and working in the office.

The chamber’s focus, determined at a recent strategic planning session, is to preserve tradition while embracing growth. This will be done by: engaging members, connecting businesses and growing community.

Heinen said the chamber will partner with Community Action of Pequot Lakes, along with the school, city and PineandLakes Echo Journal, for a community recognition event Jan. 12, 2023. Nominations will soon be due to honor a top business, employee, citizen and volunteer.

The advisory board was introduced. Members include Aundra Erickson (Country Financial), Bruce Meade (Edward Jones), Colton Maher (Woods to Water Real Estate and MN Traders Co.), Jill Andersen (Lonesome Cottage Furniture Co.), Lisa Kaneski (Pequot Lakes/Pine River/Nisswa Dairy Queens), Nancy Vogt (Echo Journal), Tammy Bargy (Hunt Utilities Group) and Tyler Gardner (Pequot/Gull Lake Sanitation and Pequot Lakes mayor).

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Gardner gave an update on city projects, including a construction update for the splash pad in Trailside Park. He talked about his goal of listening to, and working closely with, area businesses.

Stumpf reported on Pequot Lakes School District activities and gave an update on candidates and issues looking ahead to school board elections in November.

The agenda concluded with a report from Andersen, who along with her husband, Brandon, own Lonesome Cottage Furniture Co. based in Pequot Lakes. Jill Andersen reported on the growth of their business and took the board for a tour of their production plant.

Lonesome Cottage, which began as a builder of handcrafted cedar log furniture in 1998, has expanded and now has products in campgrounds, hotels, resorts and homes across North America and as far away as New Zealand.

Pete Mohs, Brainerd Dispatch and Echo journal publisher, is a member of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber board. He may be reached at 218-855-5855 or pete.mohs@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Facebook.

Opinion by Peter Mohs
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