I'm pleased to be asked for a few follow-up thoughts on Wadena, and on building its bright future.
When people visit any city, and when they shop, they also like to eat. Wow, do we have that covered! Do you realize there are more than twenty places in Wadena to have lunch or dinner? A sports bar and restaurant, classic Midwestern downtown café, fresh local foods, terrific pizza, chicken, steaks, Chinese, burgers everywhere, and ample fast food. We've got the food base covered!
Currently, Wadena has what appears to be an under-appreciated county historical museum. We certainly have an under-utilized historical railroad depot in Burlington Northern Park. Let us envision what it might take to make that depot, the park, the street, and parking lot in front of it into the city square of Wadena? Perhaps between the city, Historical Society and the Regional Culture Center, we could fill that building with interesting memorabilia, arts and craft activity and rent paying tenants. Wadena surely ought to have a visitor center, where better?
This is a wonderful time to look to new horizons. I suggest to all to respond with your own ideas, not about what isn't and not about the challenges we face, but rather about what might be if we tried to make it happen. Have faith. If we can dream it, we can also make it happen. By the way, also start thinking about ways you and friends or family could actively participate in making some of these changes begin to take place. A lot of hands make for light work.
Although we would need cooperation from city and county government, new and unique ideas could all be accomplished by active citizen leadership rather than through government mandate.
About David Evert:
With friends Carol Spearman and Rowland Joiner he owns and operates the Bernauer Building in downtown Wadena. In 2006 he helped form STEP, Stimulating Economic Progress, as a local nonprofit devoted to being a community based resource. The first major undertaking in 2007 was to recruit a local food chef and his family and remodel the former Village Emporium coffeehouse into one of the country's best local food restaurants operated by the Derek and Shari Olson family. This was accomplished through the generosity of the Wadena/OtterTail Community Action Council, The Bremer Foundation and David and Mary Bernauer.
Then, a partnership was formed in 2010 with A Minnesota Without Poverty resulting in creation of the Micro-Enterprise Partnership (MEP) which offers free new business mentoring, education and micro financing to individual and family entrepreneurs, and launches new enterprises or strengthen job opportunities. STEP and MEP collaborate with the economic development authorities in Menahga, Staples, and Wadena, the Central Region Sustainable Farmers Association, the Farmers Markets in Wadena, Verndale, Staples and Bertha-Hewitt as well as with the Regional Culture Center and Spring Board for the Arts in Fergus Falls. STEP and the Micro-Enterprise Partnership became a certified SCORE mentor center in 2013. SCORE is a free business mentoring service created to help small business owners become more successful.