Our community today has a positive vibe that has been building for a few years and is taking form through multiple construction projects around the area. For the first time in decades, talking about “moving dirt” isn’t just about what to do with the rock pile in the foreign trade zone, its referencing the multiple new structures and multi-million-dollar investments being made into our community. From infrastructure updates, including the airport, highway corridors, and local streets, to new buildings and start-up businesses – our future is looking brighter by the day!

Encouraged by the Cantilever Distillery + Hotel project in Ranier, our area has caught the attention of investors, developers and entrepreneurs looking to contribute to our growing tourism industry. Including new and renovated lodging properties and increased vacation activities, over a half dozen new businesses are planned or have already started in the past three years that are aimed at tourists. Simultaneously, a number of new restaurants, retailers, and services have popped up around the area adding to the excitement of expanded local commerce. Together, with the numerous local businesses that have invested in renovating, expanding, and remodeling their current facilities, the visual appeal of our area continues to improve. We all know the saying when you look good, you feel good – and the same goes for our community!

Putting up a building is just the first step, growing these new businesses and maintaining the positive momentum we are experiencing will require full community support. To continue to attract new projects and developers, we want to prove that investing in our area is time and money well spent. Shopping, eating, working at, and engaging with all our local businesses shows our appreciation for the efforts they spend to operate in our area. Speaking positively, wishing them success, and being a cheerleader for our community are no-cost ways you can show you support all our local businesses and that you value the contribution each makes to our economy.

While the addition of new business is central to help turn our trajectory from declining to thriving, we hope to see this energy expand into other areas as well. The Koochiching County Economic Development Adjustment Strategy developed by Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, combined with the expansive detail invested in the Voyage Forward movement, still contain a viable roadmap to creating a robust and prosperous community and should not be forgotten. These reports, along with multiple other studies done on topics such as housing, workforce development, retail marketing, and childcare, represent an over half million-dollar investment made by local government and other community entities to revitalize our community. To not incorporate and utilize this valuable input would be wasteful. These reports should continue to be referenced for guidance on civic investments to ensure public funds and efforts are supporting our economic growth and not lost on projects that do not move us ahead.

As we voyage forward together into the post-pandemic world today, our community is poised with the tools, knowledge and opportunities to be a shining example of all the benefits of living, working and vacationing in rural America. Community development is an all-inclusive activity and we encourage anyone and everyone interested in manifesting a brighter future for our area to reach out to the Chamber or other local organizations to discover ways to get involved. It truly is a great time to be in the International Falls/Ranier/Rainy Lake area!