Cities pride themselves on what sets them apart from their neighbors.
Whether it’s a vibrant arts community, good schools, good roads or affordable housing, a city’s amenities and overall vibe is what makes residents want to live there and visitors stop in.
The St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a community showcase. What better way to show off what St. Joseph has to offer? It was the first year for the event that was designed to introduce new businesses and allow residents to see changes in familiar establishments.
About 30 businesses participated in what chamber board members hope to make an annual event.
It should definitely be an annual event. Why not?
As city officials talk economic development and ways to attract people to the city for longer than a day, an offering like the community showcase can show people why coming to town is worth the trip.
During the past five years, 251 jobs have been added in the city. Of those, most were added from the expansion of business versus businesses starting up, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, highlighted in the city’s 2012 annual report from the Economic Development Authority. More jobs were lost from decreases in business volume than the closing of businesses. In the first and second quarter of 2012, there were 1,798 employees, 125 business establishments and an average weekly wage of $666; all three are up from 2011, according to the report. These numbers were reflected in the businesses at the showcase.
St. Joseph joins other cities in the area that hold similar events. The cities of Sartell and Cold Spring also host community showcases to share what makes those communities unique.
Local vendors have an opportunity to share samples of products and attendees get to put a face to the business that’s just down the street. It was a good idea to host one in St. Joseph. Hundreds came out to support the event and their attendance symbolizes support.
Chamber members took a year to research and plan how to pull it off. That year was time well spent. Next year is sure to be bigger and better with the support of local businesses and residents.
While it can be hard to sustain events due to rising costs and/or lack of volunteers, this is one tradition that should be preserved.