Our mission is to serve as a member-driven organization that promotes business and community growth through economic, civic, social, and cultural programs in the Rushford Peterson Valley.
Summer Highlights
It has been a terrific summer! Thank you to the organizations and the many volunteers that put on or assisted with these and other summer events:
  • Gammel Dag Fest
  • Trail Towns 60-Mile Garage Sale
  • Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour
  • Music in the Peterson Bandstand
  • Rushford Days
  • RASA's Annie production
  • Great River Rumble
  • SEMBA Bluegrass Festivals 
Student Video Project

Representatives from our three cities, the school, and the Chamber started meeting last fall to discuss working together to promote the assets of the Rushford Peterson Valley. These assets have helped create a wonderful quality of life, whether you are here raising a family, starting a business, or looking to retire in a town with nearly everything to meet your daily needs.

In addition to our guidebook, websites, and Facebook pages, we began working with R-P High School Teacher Forrest Musselman and his students to develop videos that could help answer, " Why Take Root in the Rushford Peterson Valley?"  The group chose six videos created by R-P high school students, and these videos are being released on Facebook this summer. As a sample, click here for a great video produced by recent graduate Landon Goree. Thank you to the area photographers, both professional and amateur, who allowed their photos to be used for this project and to help promote our area.
Chamber Activities
Events - Chamber staff had a role in coordinating some local events this summer. The Root River Trail Towns had their second annual 60-Mile Garage Sale on June 23 and 24. Our staff assisted by collecting information on local sales and printing maps for the Rushford Peterson Valley. Garage sales reported fantastic sales and meeting visitors from the tri-state area as well as South Dakota, Illinois and Missouri.

The Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour brought a group of 65 bicyclists to Peterson and Rushford in early July. Gail Boyum and Jen Hengel were the local coordinators for this group's overnight stays in our towns. Thanks to volunteers Kathy Wade, Deb Klungtvedt, and Kari Johnson for welcoming the bicyclists at their Creekside overnight; to the school for allowing access to showers; to Burdey's Cafe and the Masonic Lodge for preparing meals; and to First Presbyterian/Trinity Lutheran for preparing such a welcoming rest stop.

Later in July the Great River Rumble stayed the night in Rushford before launching on their week-long trek to Prairie du Chien, WI. The Rumble's coordinators received a lot of positive feedback about Rushford from the record number 220 paddling participants. They enjoyed their welcome from Mayor Chris Hallum, Sally Ryman, and Jen Hengel at Creekside, dinner at downtown restaurants, and a full breakfast from the Lions Club, which collected over $1,000 in donations for a local charity. Special thanks to the City of Rushford, and in particular the Public Works Department, for helping prepare Creekside Park for this large group event (photo below).
Guidebooks were updated last spring and printed guides became available in June. Click the image to the right to access and page through the e-version of the guide. These have been distributed to visitors centers around Minnesota and are available for visitors at several local businesses and for new residents at our city halls. Thanks to the Rushford Economic Development Authority for helping to pay for the printing expenses. The guidebooks display the more than 200 varied and diverse businesses and organizations of our community.

The Chamber is planning to develop a rack card in the future as a lower cost method to promote our valley to a wider audience.
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies

Congratulations to Nikki Johnson on opening The Shop Salon at 107 State Hwy 16 in Rushford. We welcome her to the business community and to the Chamber! Celebrating with her were Chamber board members and her family: (left to right) Marcy Nelson, Gordy Nelson, Gregg Olson, Robin Paulson (board), Jordy Graham, Beth Tudahl (board), Noelle Graham, Steven Halvorson (board), Karen Johnson, Jordon Johnson, Nikki Johnson, Judy Graham, Ardell Johnson, Sally Ryman (board), George Graham, and Kathy Riley (board).
Shannon Meier Photography now has a studio! Shannon lost much of her equipment in a house fire late last year. Her family has since moved, and she now has space for indoor photo shoots. We held a ribbon-cutting to recognize this Chamber member's new location and Shannon's resilient spirit to continue her photography business! Shannon is pictured with Chamber reps and friends Jen Hengel, Sally Ryman, Jeffrey O'Donnell, Steven Halvorson, Robin Paulson and Kathy Riley.
Marketing Efforts
  • The Chamber has coordinated promotion of the valley this summer through sponsorship messages on Wisconsin Public Radio, such as: "Support comes from Rushford Peterson Valley on Southeast MN's Root River Bike Trail, with bluff country hiking, riverside walks, and a variety of lodging and dining options. More at RushfordPetersonValley.com." Additionally, Facebook advertising and Google AdWords are methods underway to drive traffic to events and websites. These three advertising venues were part of the Chamber's Explore MN Tourism Grant that covers 50 percent of the costs.
  • Root River Trail Towns representatives also had a booth at Iowa's RAGBRAI stop in Cresco, Iowa. Trail Towns' volunteers staffed the booth and provided thousands of bicycle enthusiasts with information about our area and the Root River Trail. The [Des Moines] Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa began in 1973, and this was only the fourth time the ride has come as close to us as Cresco.
  • The Chamber is always seeking ideas on new ways or avenues to market our area. We're interested in hearing from you. What websites, publications, or other media do you use to determine where to vacation or when you make travel or destination plans? Send us an email! 
Bike Share - The Rushford Library and Peterson Museum/Visitors Center are now lending bicycles--at no charge! Contact each location for details. The program, made possible by Root River Trail Towns and the MN Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, was coordinated locally by Trail Towns' reps Gail Boyum and Jen Hengel. Thanks to board members, staff, and volunteers of the lending organizations for making this possible in our communities!
Chamber workshop follow-up - In the past couple years, we have hosted a workshop regarding the use of Facebook to market your business and connect to your customers and a workshop to help business update and "claim" their presence on the digital highway (primarily Google and Yelp). Please remember to contact the Chamber coordinator if you have questions about these workshops or would like additional assistance. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming seminar on internet security for your business and other learning or growth opportunities.
Chamber Meeting with Senator Miller and the 
Legislative Session Re-cap
Senator Jeremy Miller met with Chamber members at the Andor Wenneson Inn in late June. This past session, he was named deputy majority leader, chaired the Senate Jobs and Economic Growth, Finance and Policy Committee, and was a member of the Capital Investment Committee and Taxes Committee. Below is information shared by Senator Miller, with additional details provided by Chamber staff.

Senator Miller said this year's state legislative session was historic in terms on getting things done. Bills were passed into law to provide one-time emergency relief for the individual health insurance market and later to stabilize the market longer term. A large grassroots effort helped Sunday liquor sales become a reality. A law was passed to bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act. Minnesota created a two-tier system to give consumers a choice on whether to receive a REAL ID compliant driver's license. More details on the MN REAL ID can be found here.

Sentator Miller shared a few specifics on the $46 billion two-year bipartisan budget, which began July 1. Education funding is a little over 40 percent of the state's total budget ($18.7 billion), and this biennium, Minnesota schools will see a $1.3 billion increase. A long-term transportation plan was also passed, including increases to road and bridge funding using existing sales tax revenue generated from auto-related parts ($300 million dedicated to transportation). 

Minnesota's cities will see increases to Local Government Aid by $15 million per year . Of this amount, Peterson will see a $558 increase to reach $40,473 in LGA; Rushford LGA increases by $6,926 to a total $596,559; and Rushford Village LGA increases $8,372 to reach $27,676. Click here to read more about how the MN Department of Revenue calculates this Local Government Aid. The legislature also approved $8 million in street assistance for small cities (under 5,000 population); based on MnDOT calculations, this means $5,631 for Peterson, $16,732 for Rushford, and $20,197 for Rushford Village.

Senator Miller spoke about the $650 million in tax relief. Senior citizens may see the relief in the form of tax reductions when filing their taxes and some may no longer pay state income tax on Social Security benefits. Middle income families may receive additional tax credit for child care expenses, and students may see a reduction in their taxes through a tax credit for student loan payments. Small businesses will see relief from the statewide general property tax : the first $100,000 of each parcel of commercial property will be exempt from this tax. Senator Miller shared that this general property tax on commercial property was passed as a temporary tax in 2001 but has remained in affect with automatic annual increases. The new legislation just passed will freeze this tax at the 2018 level. Also noteworthy is property tax relief for farmers in the form of a tax credit for agricultural property equal to 40 percent of the tax attributable to school district bond levies on that property. 

Senator Miller also reviewed the state's $988 million bonding bill, which is borrowing for public works construction projects across the state. Local projects included in this bill are full funding for the Lanesboro hydroelectric dam ($4 million for repairs) and Winona State University's Education Village project ($25 million).
Rushford Peterson Valley Farmers Market continues on Wednesdays through mid-October, 4-6:30 p.m., at the Rushford Depot Park. Available to purchase are a wide array of produce from apples to zucchini; locally raised beef and pork; baked goods such as buns, cookies and bars; canned jellies, jams, salsa, and more; black walnuts; handmade greeting cards; unique jewelry items; and locally made, all natural personal care products.

Special thanks to coordinator Jess Heiden who volunteers her time to organize and manage our local Farmers Market.
2017 Events in the Rushford Peterson Valley
The Chamber continues to promote our local events; details can be found on the Rushford Peterson Valley website . Some events are also listed on the Explore Minnesota Tourism website and the Root River Trail Towns website.
Sept. 9—Taste of the Trail: Peterson, Whalan & Lanesboro
Sept. 9—Ham & Chicken Supper at St. John's Lutheran Church in Hart
Sept. 16—Youth ATV Safety Training by Bluff Country ATV Club
Sept. 16—Winona Rotary's Ride the Ridges Century Ride stops at Rushford Depot
Sept. 23—Taste of the Trail: Houston & Rushford area at the Depot
Sept. 30—The Rushford Historic Depot celebrates 150 years. Birthday party from 1-5 p.m.
Sept. 30—Foundation for R-P Schools' Fall Feast Fundraiser Dinner
Oct. 7—Codfish & Meatball Dinner at Rushford Lutheran Church
Oct. 14—Bluff Land Tri: Run, Bike, Hike triathlon in Rushford Peterson Valley
Oct. 21—Rushford Arts & Crafts Fair at the New R-P School
Oct. 21—SEMBA's Catfish & Chicken Fry at the Rushford Legion
Dec. 9—Christmas in Peterson and Parade of Lights in Rushford
Your membership is vital in sustaining the local Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for your continued support.

Coordinator Jennifer Hengel and the Chamber Board of Directors
Robin Paulson, President - Steven Halvorson, Vice-President - Angela Colbenson, Treasurer Sally Ryman, Secretary - Beth Tudahl - Megan Boyum - Kathy Riley 
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