From Vacation to Relocation:
Using Tourism to Attract New Residents 

July 30, 2020

**This will be an online convening. Registration is required. A link will be sent to preregistered participants prior to the event. **

A priority action area for SE MN Together is resident recruitment and retention. The COVID 19 pandemic has revealed that some jobs are more mobile than previously thought. At the same time visits to outdoor amenities are on the rise bringing visitors to Greater Minnesota. Tourism is known to have a "halo effect" of inspiring positive sentiments among tourists about a community after visiting. This opens up an opportunity for communities outside of major metros to position their towns as relocation destinations. This event will explore the tie between tourism and new resident attraction and provide a platform for participants to consider actions their town can undertake.

Agenda Overview

12:45 Login and breakout networking for participants 

1:00-1:30 Keynote: Ben Winchester, University of Minnesota Extension 


1:30-2:30 Emerging and Best Practices  (20 minutes each - 15 to present 5 for Q and A) 


2:30-2:40 Networking and Refresh Break 


2:40-3:15 Activating New Ideas (breakout small group discussions)​


3:15-3:30 Report Out and Wrap Up 

About our guest speakers
Ben Winchester, University of Minnesota Extension
Ben is a Rural Sociologist with the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. Ben has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America.

Winchester received his B.A. in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Minnesota, Morris (1995) and M.S. in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2001). He was a founding employee at the Center for Small Towns, an outreach and engagement program at the University of Minnesota, Morris and specializes in community development, demographic analysis, data visualization, and moving communities away from anecdata.
Gabby Kinneberg, Preston Tourism
Gabby Kinneberg is the Tourism and Chamber of Commerce Director for the City of Preston. She also serves as President for the Root River Trails Towns Organization and is an active Fillmore County Representative for the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association. Before coming back to work in her hometown of Preston Gabby studied at Winona State University and completed degrees in Mass Communication and Communication Studies. Gabby is a strong advocate for using tourism to recruit residents. Gabby has been actively involved in the creation of Preston’s Livability Campaign and the efforts to bring more housing opportunities to Preston. She recently helped create a Veteran Friendly Campaign with the Chamber of Commerce which has coincided with Preston’s effort to bring a State Veterans Home to Preston. Gabby is excited to see Preston’s growth even with the given challenges today.  
Cathy Enerson, CEDA/Preston EDA
Cathy is the EDA Director for two communities in southeastern Minnesota–Eyota, and Preston. Cathy joined the CEDA team in 2009, bringing with her vast knowledge of construction, real estate, finance, economics, budgeting, grant writing, and customer service. Cathy is a visionary with expertise in generating new ideas and solving problems. She has brought millions of grant dollars to the communities she serves. She has created pilot programs with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to bring succession planning to local businesses, and with Greater Minnesota Housing to pilot revolving loan funds to revitalize rental housing above downtown commercial spaces. She has implemented main street renovations for three communities including partnering with CEDA grant writers to bring nearly $2 million dollars of small cities block grant funding to SE MN. Cathy works with the EDA Board in Preston to showcase area assets and strengthen the local economy, she is responsible for generating the ideas and creating teams to see through the creation of the National Trout Center, a LIvability website tab, and the funding of a  successful $10 million dollar State bonding grant to build a MN State Veterans Home.
Cathy is a graduate of Mankato State with a degree in Finance and Economics, she holds a MN Realtors License. Through her work, Cathy is a member of the Rochester Area Builders, the Preston Area Chamber, and the Southeast MN Association of Realtors. In 2020 Cathy looks forward to working as a team member with the MN Housing Partnership's Housing Institute. 
Melissa Streich, Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission
Melissa joined the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission in January of 2014 as a Communications Coordinator. The Commission is based out of Appleton, Minnesota and serves the 5-counties of Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine. Melissa grew up on a dairy farm near Danvers and is thankful to be back working in the region that she grew up in. She and her husband Ryan have two boys, Weston (3) and Wyatt (1), and a baby girl due in August! She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and Advertising, along with a Business Administration minor from North Dakota State University {Go Bison}. Her main responsibilities as the Communications Coordinator consists of coordinating the Prairie Waters Tourism/Recruitment Program, along with various marketing projects for the UMVRDC. She works on a variety of projects where she is able to express her creative side while creating newsletters, annual reports, brochures, and managing multiple websites. Melissa shared that she is "excited to share how our tourism/recruitment program has evolved over the years and some exciting new projects that we’ve been working on!"
Benya Kraus, Lead for Minnesota
Hailing from a fusion of Waseca, MN and Bangkok, Thailand, Benya graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University in 2018 with a B.A. in International Relations and minors in Urban Studies and Colonialism Studies. While at Tufts, she served as Student Body President and worked as a Minneapolis Urban Scholar with the city's Community Planning & Economic Development department designing affordable housing strategies for the City. Searching for a pathway back to serve in Waseca after graduation, she realized that little infrastructure and cultural narrative existed to bring young talent back to small towns, rural, and economically distressed urban communities - particularly to engage in public service. She went on to co-found Lead for America, a national nonprofit that supports young talent in returning to their hometowns through two-year paid fellowships with the mission of catalyzing community renewal and strengthening our public institutions. Supported by the Bush Foundation, Benya has returned home to Minnesota to launch Lead for Minnesota - the next state affiliate headquartered in her hometown of Waseca. In addition to Lead for America, Benya serves as the youngest member elected to the Amnesty USA Board of Directors, was recently appointed by Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan to the Minnesota Young Women's Cabinet, and is involved in her hometown community as a board member of the Mayo Clinic Waseca Outreach Board and the Waseca Area Foundation.

© 2020 by SE MN TOGETHER in partnership with Southeast Service Cooperative

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