Sen. Jeremy Miller stopped in Lanesboro on Thursday, April 17, as a part of a tour through the area during his break from session. He met with the Lanesboro EDA on matters concerning the growth of the community.  BRETTA GRABAU/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
Sen. Jeremy Miller stopped in Lanesboro on Thursday, April 17, as a part of a tour through the area during his break from session. He met with the Lanesboro EDA on matters concerning the growth of the community. BRETTA GRABAU/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
During the break in legislation for the Easter holiday, Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona spoke with the Lanesboro Economic Development Authority (EDA) about how to attract more residents and businesses to the town and surrounding rural community.

Since many business buildings in the downtown area are vacant, the EDA is searching for ways to add to the population of the town as well as the businesses themselves by attracting more people into the community. As Miller toured certain areas of the district, the EDA hoped to gain advice from him to improve the marketing strategy the city leaders are looking to develop.

However, through the course of the discussion, Miller declared that many communities, not only small towns like Lanesboro but also cities like Winona, have the same problems with one stark difference. Downtowns in those other communities are not nearly as vibrant with art and restaurants as Lanesboro nor do those communities have all the natural resources Lanesboro has.

Despite the vacancies downtown, Miller stated Lanesboro is actually much better off than many of those communities.

One idea the community may be able to offer in the future was the opportunity to telecommute from the area.

City Administrator David Todd spoke of many residents from Lanesboro commuting to Rochester for work at Mayo Clinic. Possibly utilizing a call center could aid in this endeavor if it were to be formed.

Miller spoke of a business in Winona experimenting with flexible office space and everything connecting to the internet through wireless technology. This often goes well within large communities, but he does not know if Winona would supply adequate demand for it. However, it could potentially create an opportunity for the city of Lanesboro.

While the initiative of the Lanesboro EDA is excellent, Miller commented it would be best to focus on what Lanesboro is good at offering. This is a tremendous advantage of the city over other communities.

Lanesboro offers art, canoeing, tubing, theatre and more that other communities either do not have or are incapable of having. Miller advised the Lanesboro Arts Center, the Chamber of Commerce and the city to collaborate to find a theme for the city, which the three groups could stand behind in their future marketing strategy.

In the process, he offered to get in touch with the Department of Economic Development to see what opportunities are available for Lanesboro to work on.

Suggestions were also offered relating to a future visit by 75 Mayo personnel from all over the country. If Lanesboro can identify how they heard of Lanesboro, such as a person who organized the visit, marketing for Lanesboro may be amplified through that person again or by using a similar method.

Overall, Miller emphasized Lanesboro is in a good position and recommended that the city leaders focus on its strengths for the community's main marketing strategy. He again noted that other communities in the area have to continue to work to understand their own positions.