October 3, 2021
Public, business owners, elected officers are encouraged to attend workshops to see the results
The Red River Regional Council and many regional partners have come together on an important effort to enhance where we live, work and play. Part of those efforts include a secret shopping mission and the public is encouraged to attend a workshop in their county to learn more about what that mission revealed.
The project, Destination Red River Region, has begun and includes four counties in northeast North Dakota, also known as Region 4 – Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh.
Research shows that tourism is the front door to non-tourism economic development and a region is only as good as the sum of its parts. The goal of the project is to level up the communities in Region 4. The outcome will be a regional action plan that provides strong direction on how and what we can be doing to strengthen our efforts to attract people – both visitors and residents. Roger Brooks and his team will be drafting that plan.
Who is Roger Brooks?
Roger Brooks and his team from Roger Brooks International & Destination Development Association (https://www.destinationdevelopment.org/cpages/home) have been selected to assist us in these efforts based on his wealth of experience, energetic approach, and the ability to help us level up. His team’s mission is to help communities in their efforts to be sustainable, successful destinations while improving quality of life for residents. To date he has assisted more than 2,200 communities do this through branding, marketing, communications, economic and product development efforts.
What does the project include?
Roger Brooks’ efforts include several aspects:
- The Roger Brooks team conducted a pre-visit assessment. They looked our websites, social media, photography and print materials. The goal is to figure out what people who know nothing about our area can (and cannot) find out before physically coming here.
- They are among us now, in the region, secretly shopping us. They will do this for about three weeks. They are looking at our region through 3 lenses – the lens of a visitor, potential investor (business opportunity), and future resident. They have been taking thousands of photos.
- A brief online questionnaire will be launched to get local feedback on the future of our communities. It is expected this will be launched the week of October 4.
- A findings and suggestions workshop will be held in each county once the secret shopping mission is complete. For every challenge uncovered during the secret shopping mission, Roger will be here to show us, photographically, how to make it better using many low-cost solutions.
Please see below the date and time for each workshop. These events are open to the public and attendance is highly encouraged:
- Grand Forks County: Tuesday, Oct. 19 – 9am Pheasant Room at the Alerus Center
- Nelson County: Monday, Oct. 18 – 9am at Lakota Community Center
- Pembina County: Friday, Oct. 15 – 9am at Akra Hall at Icelandic State Park
- Walsh County: Thursday, Oct. 14 – 9am at Minto Community Center
It is expected the findings and suggestion workshop will be 2 to 2 ½ hours. Everyone is invited to attend. The more engagement, the easier it will be to implement solutions. Plus, Roger promises it will be energetic and enlightening – plus it will be 100% about your county.
Regional and County Teams
The same afternoon of the workshop, Roger will meet with the respective County Team to give next steps (or “marching orders”) on what can be done while the plan is drafted.
A County Team has been assembled for each County and has a chairperson or co-chairs. These are people who have a vested interest in the Action Plan development and implementation. They’re going to assist in building momentum and implementing the plan.
The goal of the County Team is to move ideas forward – to help move them from suggestions to recommendations to actions. But they can’t do it themselves. This is where engagement at the County Workshops, and beyond, is important. A plan is only as good as those who strive to implement it.
We expect the County Team, JDA, city and county elected leaders, and many others will be working – together – to implement the Action Plan. If you’re interested in being part of this, please the Red River Regional Council for more information.
There is also a regional team – made up of 2-3 members from each county and one from Manitoba — which has been meeting over the past several months to bring this effort to the region. They were the group who selected Roger Brooks/Destination Development to lead this effort.
Before Roger and his team depart the area, on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, he will be holding focus group meetings with sectors of people from across the region. These sectors will include people from groups such as retailers, restaurants, lodging, large employers, elected leaders, healthcare, youth, newcomers, etc. Each group will have 15-20 people representing these sectors across the four-county region. Anyone interested in participating in this should contact the Red River Regional Council.
Roger Brooks will be conducting 90-, 120-, and 180-day check-ins with the County Teams and will return in spring 2022 with the action plan. The plan will be for the entire region, with each county having its own section based on the pre-assessments, in person assessments, and online public questionnaire.
How was this project made possible?
How it’s being done is through a partnership of several organizations in the region. Funding partners include:
- Red River Regional Council / Economic Development Administration
- City of Cavalier / ND Department of Commerce Planning Grant
- Nelson County JDA
- Pembina County JDA
- Walsh County JDA
- Rendezvous Regional Council
- Visit Greater Grand Forks (formerly GF convention & visitor’s bureau)
The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) is one of eight regional planning councils in North Dakota established in 1973 to enhance the ability of local governments to jointly plan, address issues, and seize opportunities that transcend individual boundaries.
The RRRC is an independent quasi-governmental consulting group assisting local governments, business owners, homeowners, landowners, healthcare providers, and educational institutions in solving problems, creating holistic solutions, planning, and making dreams come true. The RRRC serves Region IV which includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh Counties. More information can be found at www.redriverrc.com.