Julie Kiehne
Julie Kiehne
Julie Kiehne, executive director of the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce, was elected president of the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association at its annual meeting held in Owatonna on Sept. 13.

The Southern Minnesota Tourism Association is a non-profit organization working in cooperation with Explore Minnesota Tourism, chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, tourism businesses and southern Minnesota counties, to promote southern Minnesota as a travel destination and thereby enhance the economic impact and the quality of life for residents and visitors.

The September annual meeting included an overview of the 2012 marketing plan for southern Minnesota, updates and opportunities from Explore Minnesota Tourism and reports from the Government Relations Committee. The keynote speaker was John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, who gave a "State of the Industry" report. Additional speakers included, Al Batt noted author and birding expert, plus representatives from Hunting Works for Minnesota and Minnesota Pheasants Forever.

State conducted research studies show tourism is one of the state's largest industries and continues to grow. Marketing tourism is an investment in the economy of our region. Research reveals that for every dollar spent marketing tourism in Minnesota, an estimated $4.60 in state and local taxes, $20.40 in wages, and $53 in gross sales are generated.