Guest Opinion: Brainerd - A Great Place to be These Days!

I appreciate this opportunity to say thank you. o Thank you, Brainerd, for entrusting me with a term at city council to try to make a difference. o Thank you, lake country residents, who are sharing your ideas, energies, and financial investments...

Chip Borkenhagen
Chip Borkenhagen

I appreciate this opportunity to say thank you.

• Thank you, Brainerd, for entrusting me with a term at city council to try to make a difference.

• Thank you, lake country residents, who are sharing your ideas, energies, and financial investments into our regional community-the visionaries who are stepping up to the plate to keep our community moving forward.

• Thank you to those willing to be on our committees (the oil that keeps the gears running smoothly, and the seeds of great ideas).

• Thank you to our city's employees. Most businesses would love to have talent of this caliber. How fortunate we are for their dedication to keep this engine running so well.


• Thank you to all those who stand ready to serve and protect on any given moment: Brainerd's Police Department, Fire Department, First Responders, etc.

• Thank you to the businesses that have kept the faith that we really are working on a more healthy business attitude.

• Thank you to the new business owners who are betting on a bright future for us all. And to the existing businesses who are updating and refreshing their investments here.

As I was contemplating running for city council, a friend told me he believes that "city/community government is the grassroots of democracy." Right on. And the more of us who participate (government positions and committees, etc.) the better it's going to be.

An acquaintance once said, "Brainerd is just a tired, old railroad town." Oh really? Watch what's going to happen over the next five to 10 years. Brainerd has arrived, stronger and more positive than ever before.

"As we think, so shall we be." It's important to constantly be aware that, as the world is changing, so is Brainerd. It's up to the residents and businesses to set the rudder and trim the sails to head this change in the right direction; not just city council, or employees, or some "natural evolution."

Our community and government invites our youth, especially, to engage and be a part of designing and building our city.

We are all in this together, so I challenge everyone to make conscious, everyday decisions about continuing this new, fresh energy that's moving our city into a healthy future:


• Let's strive to make our purchases/products and services as local as possible.

• Let's always be thinking about ways to maximize our tax dollar investments-but not at the expense of building the "character" of our city. People tend to go where people are. This is true in everything from restaurants to public places and to cities themselves.

• We're on track to revive the vibrancy that Brainerd once had before the big-box sprawl. Brainerd has a "brand" that most cities would give anything for. Who in St. Louis Park says "Hey, hon, let's go up to Baxter this weekend"? We are "Brainerd" (lakes area). We can keep this enviable position if all of us put our hearts into it.

• If you haven't already, check out the city's new website. Here you'll find answers to most of your questions, committees looking for more membership, and our quarterly newsletter, updating you on many of goings-on in Brainerd.

• Keep your eye on the new Mississippi River energies. Help to reclaim our beautiful downtown from the trash basket of drunks and sleaze. Call Mayor Ed Menk and learn about the many volunteer opportunities such as the Walkable/Bikeable Committee, Planning and Zoning, Transportation, and many more.

• Insure that all rental owners remember they play a vital role in city character building by maintaining their buildings so that they look good and function well.

Brainerd has a very bright future, and I am thankful to be a part of it.

Chip Borkenhagen is former Brainerd City Council member whose term ended Dec. 31

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