Working within ourselves a good idea for Minot economic development, marketing

A speaker at Visit Minot’s annual luncheon last week had sage words of advice at a good time for Minot.

The speaker, Greg Tehven, guest speaker for Visit Minot’s annual meeting, told those attending the event on Thursday to focus inside. Tehven, executive director and co-founder of Emerging Prairie in Fargo, was not what some might have thought going into the event. Although living in the Fargo area, he was not an advocate for Minot to adopt the principles of Fargo when it comes to economic development and marketing our community to potential visitors and, perhaps, most importantly, to potential business investors in our market.

That’s a good thing. The east-west rivalry in North Dakota is nothing to ignore. It has considerable influence on the perspectives of communities on both sides of the state.

Minot residents don’t want to be the next Fargo or the next… anywhere. Instead, Tehven – who asserted he likes the things that Minot is doing collectively – encouraged us to embrace our own distinct community, culture and identity and to build on that.

Tehven told the story of how in Fargo, his organization inspired a consensus, and community building with small events – a dinner event here, a smaller-scale occasion here, and slowly engaged participants in the effort to revision a city and a build from within.

It isn’t economic development in the traditional sense that he spotlighted – not incentives to attract investment and businesses to move into the region. Instead, it was inspiring the human resources in the community to feel empowered and build from the ground up, driven by people who lived in the community, loved the community, and who could see the possibilities.

That seems more reasonable than grandiose dreams to become something, somewhere else.

Tehven also discussed – rightly – the creative community and its influence to dramatically alter the landscape of any community with vibrant thinkers, visionaries and entrepreneurs. This is a concept Minot Daily News and some in the city have advocated often for. Why? Because it’s been the engine that drove the revitalization and economic rebirth of community after community, large and small, all over the nation.

We’re looking at efforts at a unified marketing message for Minot. We’re looking at a joint effort in economic development.

Both good ideas.

However, perhaps it’s helpful to look at the small things that lead to a big new vision of Minot, about Minot, reflecting Minot, exclusive to Minot and building on our own resources.

Thanks to Visit Minot and to Mr. Tehven for bringing solid ideas to share – advice well worth considering.