Michelle Larson has completed several goals and led successful events -- despite a pandemic -- during her first six months as the executive director of the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce. As she looks toward the future, she said rebranding the chamber and manufacturing month are her top priorities.
The Republican Eagle spoke with Larson about the state of the local economy, what she has accomplished, her new goals and more.
How is your goal of creating relationships with local businesses going?
The relationship building with businesses, leaders in the community and organizations has been going great. As I have said before, the Red Wing community has been incredibly welcoming. When restrictions started to lift in May, we were able to gather together and have more in person networking events, which helped to develop new relationships.
You created and initiated a chamber membership satisfaction survey. How has it been received?
The survey went well. We had an over 40% response rate and were able to get a pulse for how the business community is doing and what they value with the chamber. It will be a good base guide for strategic planning when looking at areas for growth and also areas to continue implementing well.
What trends are you seeing in local business right now?
Businesses are in an ever-changing climate right now, which has required them to innovate and be creative with how they provide their products and services. Businesses have been busy, but are also navigating through workforce shortages and supply chain delays.
With the rise of the COVID Delta variant, they are remaining flexible and hoping for the best while being mindful of the health and safety of their staff and customers.
In your opinion, what is the current state of Red Wing's business economy?
The economy is improving from what we can tell in Red Wing. We are seeing new businesses move to Red Wing either with the purchases of property here or as an expansion of their services to our community.
Many of our businesses are reinvesting in themselves whether it be through a remodel or shift in their business plan as they look to operate into the future.
The forecast for the economy is a hard one to predict and depends on a great deal of variables, but we are optimistic that it will continue to improve here in the Red Wing area and everywhere.
What are your new goals for the next six months?
After the completion of River City Days and our upcoming golf tournament, our focus will be on Manufacturing Month (October), creating educational and leadership events for our members, and adding some new programs that we hope our membership and the community will find valuable.
We continue to work on the re-brand for the chamber, which we hope to showcase at the annual meeting and awards banquet in January of 2022.
How do you think you will accomplish your new goals?
I have an amazing team here at the chamber and wonderful support from the Chamber Board, membership, and fellow leaders in the community. Collaboration, teamwork and dedication will help us all reach our goals.