6 thoughts on “What’s Holding LF Back?

  1. Does the city have a long term growth plan? If yes, how is it being implemented? If not, what could be done to develop a plan? I have heard there is a bit of a tussle between parts of the community that want to grow and parts that are happy to leave things as they are? What are the plans in place that will make Little Falls the destination city the DNR says it is that will bring tourism dollars to the city? Is there a contingent of the city that would rather not see tourism dollars because it means crowding the city with tourists? If yes, how can those people be convinced to change their minds?

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    • You’ve asked a lot of great questions, Christian. I’ve been following city activities pretty closely and been involved with previous planning efforts. As far as I can tell, the city is not currently operating with a long-term growth plan. Previous plans have been paid for and shelved. I don’t think this it is unusual for cities or organizations to make plans and then not follow through on them because they can’t figure out how to break them down, assign tasks, and make them happen. There’s a book I read called “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky that deals with this all-too-common phenomenon.

      I do think there is an overall attitude in Little Falls that we don’t want too much activity, too much change, or anyone being a bother. This is a long-term, entrenched attitude that goes back decades. There was a time when the city was offered a community college and turned it down. I’ve heard it was because we didn’t want all those students making a commotion. Of course, young people make a city vibrant and a post-secondary institution would have brought jobs, but apparently the city wasn’t interested in that at the time. Also within the rumor mill of Little Falls history is the story that big business leaders years ago actively worked to keep out competition. While that doesn’t seem so strange from an individual business’s point of view (why invite more competition for your product or service?), it’s not good from the standpoint of the city or customers. There has to be a way for the city to allow for economic development without letting existing businesses keep others out.

      Tourism is only one piece of economic development. We do have a lodging and restaurant tax, which fund the local CVB, and we have loads of attractions, more than most towns the size of Little Falls. I’m not sure what the return is in terms of tourists coming to town versus dollars spent to get them here. In addition to the CVB’s budget spent on tourism efforts, we’d have to also examine the efforts all the attractions are making in bringing people to their own sites.

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  2. Is pursuing tourism dollars the best way to get LF back on track? Those dollars provide low paying jobs and are very dependent on pressures outside of our control, i.e. gas prices or the economy as a whole. What can be done to draw medium sized business to LF?

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    • Buddy – We definitely need to diversify our economic development efforts. Tourism can’t be the town’s savior for the reasons you provide, but also because we can’t depend on any one industry to save the town, no matter how successful it might look on the surface. How many people thought Hennepin Paper would close its doors after operating for more than 100 years?

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  3. Perhaps setting a population goal is needed. We will have 15k by 2020. Then there is a goal to pursue. Realistic plans will need to be put into place on how to draw people to more to LF, where to house them and how they will spend there time.

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    • Specific measurable goals are a must. I think that’s part of why LF doesn’t progress after making plans. It’s very easy to shoot out ideas; it’s much harder to put those ideas into action. Having measurable goals is the starting point. Then, we must appoint people to be accountable for achieving tasks on the way to that goal, adjusting for factors that come up during the process. That doesn’t necessarily mean making one or two people do everything, which would be overwhelming and lead to burnout. Instead, we need to break larger goals into smaller tasks and being open to having a number of people work through the tasks over time. Much easier said than done, I know, but there is currently a breakdown between idea generation and implementation in LF.

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