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.

Annual Meeting Recap 
President Peggi Redalen led the Chamber's February 2nd Annual Meeting with nearly 50 community and business leaders in attendance. In addition to approving the organization's annual reports, the attending members ratified the election of Sally Ryman and Kathy Riley as new board members. Both Gary Marcoux and Peggi had reached their term limits by serving six consecutive years on the Board. Thanks to Peggi and Gary for their outstanding service, and welcome Sally and Kathy to the Board of Directors! 

The afternoon's guest speaker was Winona Area Chamber President Della Schmidt, who has worked with chambers of commerce for more than 20 years. She spoke about the relevancy of the Chamber, asking if the Chamber didn't provide referrals, publish the directory and guide, coordinate training or networking activities, support community events, who would do these things for our businesses and community? Della also spoke to the importance of keeping mission-focused in our programming and the need to say "no" to activities that don't help achieve the mission. She said no two chambers are alike, as e ach chamber is a reflection of its community, industry make-up, staff and history. However, each chamber's toolbox should include enough variety to impact each business. Della noted that not every Chamber activity will pertain to every business; however, businesses should consider that even if a specific activity or event does not directly impact their business, these activities are opportunities to build relationships with other business representatives and potential customers. Della also shared information about some of the Winona Area Chamber's initiatives. We thank Della for meeting with our Chamber and sharing her experiences and insights! 
New School Tour on Saturday!
Chamber members are invited to attend a tour of the new school's progress this Saturday, March 4 at 8:30 a.m. Park in the lot across the street from the school and meet at the main entrance. The tour will last about 60 minutes. Join your fellow business & organization leaders for this special look at the school's progress!  
Chamber Activities
Guidebook - The Chamber and the graphic designer are wrapping up final updates for a new guidebook printing. Businesses and organizations should take a moment to review your guidebook listing to ensure the photo or logo represents you and the information is accurate. March 1 is the last day updates will be made.

Property Sales in 2016 & Future Property Taxes - Back by popular demand, we have once again invited Fillmore County Assessor Cindy Blagsvedt and Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek to talk to us about the counties' property sales in 2016. This information can provide insight for sales data trends and future property tax assessments. You are invited to attend this breakfast meeting on Thursday, March 23 at 8:00 a.m.  Stay tuned for location details.

Certified Food Manager Course - Food Establishments: If employees need re-certification (4-hour) or initial certification (8-hour) in food safety, the Chamber is working with The Food Safety Guy to have a class in Rushford on Tuesday, April 25. Time is 8-12 noon or 8-4:30 p.m. depending on re-certification or initial certification. The class will be held in Loken's Rushford Inn's Conference Room.  Registration is handled through The Food Safety Guy at this link On the drop down menu, choose either R-P Chamber Initial or R-P Chamber Recertification to t ake advantage of these discounted prices! 

Member Meetings - We are in the process of planning networking opportunities and meetings in 2017. Please contact the Chamber if you have ideas for speakers or workshops, or would like to host an after-hours event in 2017. 

A Good First Impression - Chamber member representatives are taking part in planning for beautification in partnership with the Rushford Trees, Trails, and Parks (TTP) Board. At a February 23 meeting led by TTP Board Chair Beth Stanford, the participants identified Highway Entrances as the first priority, and in particular, the Highway 43 north entrance. The intent is that work will begin in this area in 2017, along with additional tree planting on the Highway 43 corridor towards the city center. The second priority is Downtown Beautification, and a group will develop plans with business and community input for implementation to begin in 2018. Area Girl Scouts also attended the recent meeting and hope to lead at least one of the project components in order to earn their Silver Awards. Contact Terri Benson to be involved with the Highway Entrances group and Jen Hengel to be involved with the Downtown Beautification group.

Event Centers and Rentals A reminder to check the list of businesses and organizations on the Rushford Peterson Valley website that are available to hold your next meeting or event. Contact the Chamber if you have any additions or corrections to report.
Wayfinding Signs - The Chamber coordinator will present the final, MnDOT-approved sign designs to the Rushford EDA Board on March 8 and the Rushford City Council on March 13. Each sign location will consist of a Rushford Peterson Valley brand and directional arrows to key destinations, such as R-P School, Creekside Park, Creek Trail, Magelssen Bluff Hiking, Magelssen Bluff Park, Visitor Info, State Trail and Root River Water Access.
Root River Trail Towns - Visit the International Owl Festival in Houston this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Rushford Peterson Valley representatives, along with volunteers from the other towns, will be staffing the Root River Trail Towns' booth all weekend to tell visitors about our terrific area and all there is to do. Root River Trail Towns' representatives are also planning the 2nd Annual Trailwide Community Clean-up on Saturday, April 22. Jen Hengel and Gail Boyum are coordinating clean-up efforts at parks, public spaces, and the trail through the Rushford Peterson Valley. Contact either Jen or Gail to find out how you can help.
Welcome New Chamber Members
  • Peterson American Legion Gilbertson-Rude Post 526
  • Heiden Century Farms
  • Shannon Meier Photography
  • Sweet 16 Farm & Frisbee Golf
  • Rushford-Peterson Booster Club
  • Rushford Women’s Club
  • Root River Saddle Club
  • Rushford Area Society for the Arts
  • Sweet 16 Farm & Frisbee Golf
  • Michael and Juli Sieve (individual members)

Visit the Rushford Peterson Valley website for details on our business members!

Business Highlights
Merchants Bank has announced the promotion of Nicole Messenger to Ass istant Vice President/Human Resource Officer, according to Alberta Rosburg, Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resource Officer. With an office at Merchants' Winona location, Messenger leads recruitment efforts across all 21 Merchants Bank locations. In addition, she plays an integral role in salary administration and budgeting. Messenger has been with Merchants since 2002 as a Human Resources Generalist. She is a certified Professional in Human Resources and a Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional. She has also served as a board member for Project FINE for the past five years. Nicole, her husband, Mike, and their two boys reside in Rushford Village. Congratulations, Nicole, on your promotion!  

Thrivent Financial local representatives, Steven Halvorson and Thomas Bjerke, will host "Your Journey: Retirement, Taxes and Generosity" on Thursday, March 2 at Ferndale Golf Course, 23239 State Hwy 16. Choose from the 1:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. session to hear from special guest speaker Allison Bolger, who will walk participants through preparing for, transitioning into and arriving at retirement; developing a strategy to help make the right decisions to achieve your goals and control taxes; and living your goals and financially supporting the people, ideals and organizations that are important to you.  Refreshments will be served at the 1 p.m. session and a meal & beverage at the 6 p.m. session.

Loken's Rushford Inn has commercial space available for lease at the northwest corner for the Inn, which is adjacent to the Root River State Trail. The room is 217 square feet (14' x 15'). The Lokens are looking for a business that would complement their lodging business. Available immediately. Look at the space by calling Mike Brazee, motel manager, at 507-864-2222 or Eileen Loken, owner, at 507-421-1180.

Rushford Community Foundation (RCF) has grant funding available for flood anniversary projects. This August will mark the 10th anniversary of the flood.  At least one event is already in the works: Montini Café—Open Again One Day Only. The hall at St. Joseph’s Church provided thousands of meals to residents and volunteers for many weeks after the flood. Montini Hall was a rare place of comfort during that time—a place to be with people, shed a few tears, and hear the news of the day.  A group from St. Joseph’s, with the help of an RCF grant, is planning the event for August 20, 11:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m, as a way of celebrating the community’s resilience and recovery. A free meal will be served, there will be a short program, and The Rutabaga Brothers will play.  RCF still has some funds designated for flood commemorative events or emergency preparedness purchases and encourages other local groups to consider holding events the same weekend as the Montini Café event. Grant applications are available at the foundation’s website.  Final deadline for grant applications related to the flood is May 1, 2017.

The Rushford Fire Department would like to sell its remaining Brothers in the Water books. This wonderfully written book describes the first-hand experiences of our emergency response personnel on the harrowing night and days after the Flood of 2007. The cost of the book has been reduced to just $5 (includes sales tax), and the books are available at Rushford City Hall. Businesses are welcome to buy the books to have for sale at your location. All proceeds go to the Fire Department.

Semcac is part of the 35th Annual Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign. S ome people face food insecurity every day, while others struggle after an unexpected expense or decrease in income. Hunger can lead to poor health or illness in addition to poor performance at school or work.  The March campaign promotes the collection of food and funds to stock food shelves across the state. Semcac’s food shelves will receive a percentage of the undesignated statewide March FoodShare funds. The allocation depends on the amount of food and money raised locally during March and on the number of people served during the remainder of the year.  Semcac is asking local service clubs and organizations, businesses, churches, and individuals to help raise food and funds during March. Please bring donations to the food shelf 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesdays or Thursdays. Local Scouting organizations will be going door-to-door in Rushford Peterson Valley neighborhoods to deliver bags for food donations on March 18 and picking up filled bags on March 25. Donations must be received by March 30 to count towards the campaign.  Thank you for fighting hunger! 

Semcac is seeking board members who are consumers in the counties of Fillmore, Mower and Winona.  As a private, non-profit agency, Semcac is governed by a Board consisting of county commissioners, consumers of agency programs, and private representatives.  Board meetings are every second Monday of the month at the St. Charles Community Center beginning at 6:30 p.m. Members may receive reimbursement for mileage and child care expenses, as applicable. Contact Wayne Stenberg, Executive Director, at 507-864-8201 for more information about this opportunity.
Worth the read...

As a member of the MN Chamber of Commerce, the Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber can access many events and services of our state's chamber. Contact us if you're interested in a particular program they offer or would like to participate in these events: March 3 Legislative Webcast; March 8 Business Day at the Capitol; March 20 Webinar on Managing Customs for Smooth Importing and Exporting 

MN Department of Natural Resources is proposing, during this legislative session, increases in some user fees to prevent looming departmental budget deficits. Read more about the situation and proposed fee increases here.

Southern MN Initiative Foundation is again accepting applications for paint to be used for community murals or community welcome signs in its 20-county region. Paint the Town grants are administered by SMIF in collaboration with nine local Ace Hardware stores. Applications are due by April 18. Click here for details. 

WSU to offer Broadway Speaker Series Develop an exceptional team in your workplace by engaging and motivating your talent. Overcoming obstacles to change and developing a team mindset serve as the foundation of these timely topic offerings. Winona State University is offering a speaker series at its new location on Broadway in Rochester. All speaker sessions are designed to engage professionals in relevant issues for professional and personal growth.

Local career program 'a terrific model,' Franken says (Feb. 21 article in the Brainerd Dispatch) Read about a workforce development program, recently visited and praised by Senator Al Franken, that is an effort to create a more direct path between businesses and the future workforce.  "We need to figure out a way to keep our kids here and show them career opportunities here locally," said Matt Kilian, Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce president. "We hope that they can find some of these local opportunities and see what the community has to offer—it's not all hospitality, it's not all retail, we have great high-tech jobs here. If they don't stay here right away and we don't show them a path how to do that, they might come back when they're sitting in Twin Cities traffic. ... That's the investment that we're making, that we show them these opportunities."

Businesses: State needs more immigrants (Feb. 25 article in the Mankato Free Press)

Letter: Passing Real ID legislation is a must (Feb. 23 editorial by MN Chamber of Commerce President Doug Loon)

(Feb. 22 article in Willmar's West Central Tribune)

The State Of The American Workplace (From TLNT) Gallup's State of the American Workplace report is out. It's a lot of information (214 pages!). But it's important information and you'll enjoy the most current data from this global collector and analyzer of work related data.
2017 Events in the Rushford Peterson Valley
The Chamber continues to promote our local events on the Rushford Peterson Valley website, Explore Minnesota Tourism website, and the Root River Trail Towns website. If you know of additional events or have corrections to the dates below, contact the Chamber coordinator.

March 17, 18, 19—RASA Theatre performs "How to Talk Minnesotan," Rushford
April 22—Lipmasters Fishing Tournament, Rushford
May 13-14—Citywide Garage Sale in the Rushford Peterson Valley
May 19-21—SEMBA Bluegrass Festival, Cushon’s Peak Campground
June-Oct.—RP Valley Farmers Market, Wednesdays 4-6:30 p.m., Depot Park
June 17—Gammel Dag Fest, Peterson
June 23-24—Root River Trail Towns 60-Mile Garage Sale, includes RP Valley
July 9-July 30—Music in the Bandstand, Sundays 5-7 p.m., Peterson
July 10-16—Rushford Days
July 12-16—RASA Theatre performs "Annie," Rushford
Aug. 17-20—SEMBA Bluegrass Festival, Cushon’s Peak Campground
Sept. 9—Taste of the Trail: Peterson, Whalan & Lanesboro
Sept. 23—Taste of the Trail: Rushford area & Houston
Oct. 14—Tri-City Challenge: Run, Bike, Hike Triathlon in Rushford Peterson Valley
Oct. 21—Rushford Arts & Crafts Fair
Dec. 9—Christmas in Peterson and Parade of Lights in Rushford
The Root River Bluff & Valley Bike Tour will stay overnight in Peterson on July 6 and in Rushford on July 7. Click on the photo above for a link to more details, as the Rushford Peterson Valley prepares to welcome this bike tour in 2017! 
Your membership is vital in sustaining the local Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,
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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