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Here we are three weeks into 2023 with fifty-two inches of snowfall for the ’22- ‘23 winter already.  Congratulations to all those waiting for an old-fashioned winter – you got it!  While the white stuff has been piling up our office has been making good use of the indoor time planning for an exciting year of activity.

We have major events in each of the first quarter months beginning with a Career Expo for high schoolers.  We’re grateful for the leadership of Molly Titchenal from Faribault Public Schools spearheading the event with Casie Steeves from the Chamber.  The event will provide an opportunity for students to have face-to-face interactions with several Faribault business people during the “My Story” meetings at Faribault High School.  Our volunteers will talk about their respective careers and how they got there in small groups.  Students will have an opportunity to ask questions of their presenter during each of the sessions.  There’s also a Career Trivia section at the High School as well as hands-on experiences at the Armory with over 20 local businesses.  This effort is part of a growing partnership with Faribault Schools, South Central College, and Faribault businesses.  We’re proud to be part of these efforts!

February 10th brings a celebration of business at the Chamber Business Gala.  This year we’ll be highlighting the growth of the Chamber Trust and celebrating new efforts with the Faribault Industrial Corporation along with the ceremonial “passing-of-the-gavel” from Suzanne Terry of Edina Realty to Jody Long of Jennie-O Turkey Store for the Chamber Board Chair seat.  We’ll also be welcoming new Board members Joy Watson of Rice County, Jeremy Chavis of Faribault Vacuum and Sewing, Molly Titchenal from Faribault Public Schools, and former Board Chair Nate Chappuis.  Call the office at 507-334-4381 for ticket information.

The Faribault Chamber is pretty excited to host our legendary Flannel Formal again this year on March 11!  This popular fund-raiser has been going on since 2016 (with a break in 2021 due to COVID-19 protocols) and attendance increases every year.  The Main Street Board came up with the idea while brainstorming about raising awareness as well as cash for our program.

The event came into focus as then board-member Paul Swenson described an event at his son’s college where Minnesota students got together for a Minnesota-style reunion.  Apparently, the Notre Dame party was pretty popular as non-Minnesota students scrambled to get a date with a Minnesota kid so they could attend!  With the input of Todd Markman and other seasoned Faribaultians our event came into focus. Early volunteers included Samantha Dopp, Royal Ross, Kymn Anderson, Janna Viscomi, Bree Nygaard, Shelly Bakeberg, and others who helped hone the night into what it is today. Music, beer, hotdish, and any other lumberjack sort of activities that would add to the fun.  As the event has grown, we now occupy most of the real estate inside, around, and between 10,000 Drops and Corks & Pints at the old Peterson Furniture complex.

Along with these events, we’ve been closely following the scene at the Minnesota legislature.  The Chamber is in the process of fine-tuning our economy-friendly agenda and will be sending out a survey in the coming days to our members to help us determine top priorities and policy positions which we’ll support at the Capitol.  One of the most important conversations will be centered around proposals for mandated employee leave for up to 24 weeks a year.  While the concept has merits from a social perspective, it will add an additional employer tax in Minnesota where we are already ranked 6th worst in business tax friendliness by the Tax Foundation.   We’re also ranked 5th highest in personal taxes by Turbo Tax.  It will be important for us to weigh up business input as we put forth our advocacy efforts so please respond to our survey.

As our ’23 work plan takes shape I’m excited about our future.  Working on important Education initiatives, continuing to explore workforce home-ownership opportunities, lifting our Downtown a step at a time, promoting business and community locally as well as to visitors and a new initiative working to meet daycare needs.  These along with signature Faribault events should keep us busy for 2023.  We appreciate all the members and partners who continue to make this work happen for Faribault.

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