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Marketing on a limited budget is topic of panel discussion in Brainerd Sept. 24

A free event to help businesses market on a budget is bringing a panel discussion to Brainerd Tuesday.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. (BLAEDC) event is planned from 5-7 p.m. at the Brainerd Hotel on South Sixth Street.

“A panel of experts with extensive experience in marketing, branding and advertising will share their perspectives and offer invaluable advice during a free panel discussion titled “Marketing on a Small Budget,” BLAEDC announced. “Each panelist will give a presentation followed by a 30-minute question-answer session and then a half hour of networking.”

Light refreshments and beverages will be provided at the event which is part of BLAEDC’s Business Insights series through its Executive Initiative program.

Executive Initiative is aimed at bringing the expertise of business executives who have retired or who are volunteering their time to assist others with a goal of growing business here and creating additional jobs in the lakes area.

RSVP is requested to Erika at

In Little Falls, a new business has consignment items, including gently used clothing and purses, greeting cards and furniture, home decor. The business is New, Used and Beyond at 200 First St. NE in downtown Little Falls.

The Light Depot received Baxter City Council support Tuesday to split the property into two parcels, separating the Light Depot building from the retail center tenant building in front of it.

In June, the council heard there was a potential buyer for the retail center who was willing to remodel the building and add tenants. Recently, the council heard the number of parking stalls in the shared parking area, at about 70, limits the potential for a restaurant to go into the site.

Grand View Lodge reported it launched its first online digital concierge system to let guests make reservations for dining, look at menus from each restaurant at the resort, request spa services, make tee times, check activity schedules and sign up for events. Guests can use the digital concierge to get information on area events and rentals, get weather updates and ask questions — all from their mobile phone, tablet or computer or kiosks in the main lodge. The system is available to guests and the general public.

“We are always asking ourselves if there is a simpler way for guests to plan their vacation activities,” said Frank Soukup, director of marketing for Cote Family Companies, in a news release. “Whether it’s scheduling tubing rides in the summer, or getting into wine tasting classes in the off-season, this will be a personalized itinerary of our guest’s activities to make their stay more convenient and let them know truly all we have to offer. This has been a technology that we have dreamed about and theorized for a couple years, but making it all become a solid reality took a very special IT guru to pull it all together.”

Grand View reports a unique feature is the ability to track guest history.

“All scheduled events for the guests will be saved in the ‘Your Agenda’ portal. Guests can also see group related activities and events, such as the time and location of a wedding reception, business meeting or team building activity,” Grand View reported. “This is a ‘real-time’ solution, syncing directly to the planning software for the resort, which enables the staff to plan ahead.”

In addition, the digital concierge has social media buttons so guests have options to “share their experiences with friends and family.”

“Guests who receive a confirmation email for their upcoming stay can use their confirmation number to schedule activities and see their agenda,” Grand View stated. “For locals in the community, the system can be used for spa, golf and dining scheduling, allowing an ease to reservation making.”

Shutterfly Inc., the San Francisco-based company, is putting up a 217,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Shakopee, creating hundreds of new full- and part-time jobs in the state.

“Shutterfly’s expansion will bring hundreds of new jobs to Shakopee and Minnesota,” said Gov. Mark Dayton, who met with Shutterfly executives earlier this summer in San Francisco. The state reported the move “was aided in part by a loan of up to $1 million from the Minnesota Investment Fund – an incentive tool, which helps the state of Minnesota compete successfully for businesses and the jobs that come with it.”

Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said: “Shutterfly ranked ninth in Forbes’ fastest growing companies in 2013 and is also ranked as one of the best places to work. Minnesota has the talented and productive workforce to help fuel Shutterfly’s rapid growth.”

Founded in 1999, the Shutterfly, Inc. family of brands includes: Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Wedding Paper Divas, Treat and MyPublisher.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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