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Public Development Spurs “Destination Design” for Private Riverfront Investors

“It takes two to make a thing go right-
It takes two to make it outta sight…”

Whether or not you can personally carry a tune, the lyrics for Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s 1988 hit It Takes Two…it truly does take two to make a thing go right. It is about partnership – two entities working together to bring about optimal results. It is a great theme for the symbiotic nature of public investment spawning private investment along the Rainy River in International Falls.

“It takes two to make a thing go right…”

As the relationships between the City of International Falls and Voyageurs National Park have evolved, so too have the plans for the development of the private property adjacent to the planned Voyageur Heritage Center. Dramatically.

Kathryn Volin and Bill Rieser, President and CEO of Ultimate Log & Custom Homes, have patiently watched the developing relationship between the city and VNP, known for a history of differences. At one time the company considered selling the property to other investors, who may not have necessarily concerned themselves with what the City was doing – nor had the same vision as the City. However, a November 2007 site-visit with a potential investor, cemented plans for development of a world-class destination resort.

Relationships helped Rieser convince a tentative investor to join him for the November site-visit. After the first day, the investor called his wife to share his amazing day, to tell her how impressed and excited he was about the property and with everyone who was involved from the City and the Koochiching Economic Development Authority. “He was thrilled by the positive attitudes, commitment and excitement of everyone he met”, according to Volin. “The passion, enthusiasm and willingness to help that was exhibited by Chopper McBride, Paul Nevanen, Rod Otterness, Gary Skallman, Joe Boyle, Gail Rognerud and Mayor Mason, totally surpassed expectations during the visit.”

Volin and Rieser have always maintained that the property was a good investment for them, but agree that it was the vision and commitment of city and state leadership that made the opportunity exceptional. “The attraction the city is creating with the Amphitheater and the Voyageur Heritage Center played a major role in our decision to develop our property.

International Falls Mayor Shawn Mason credits the city, county, state and park leaders for creating a culture change within leadership. “We took the position to lead this project with a “get it done” attitude,” stated Mason. “In the past our focus was on the road blocks themselves, not on the process for overcoming them. Now our time, energy, and due diligence, have a forward momentum. Our partners feel it and progress is the outcome.”

Rod Otterness, City Administrator for International Falls, emphasizes the local benefit, as well. “The heritage site will have so many attractions, available on a daily basis, for our local community. It will be a hub for outdoor activity, cultural awareness, community connection and be a testament to what can be accomplished when vision is put into action.”

“It takes two to make it outta site…”

“We envision a first class destination resort – not just another overnight “pass through” facility.” Stated Volin. “Our lodge/resort will provide a corporate retreat, cabins, condominiums, swimming pools, tennis courts, conference center, business center, RV park area, fitness center, spa, beauty salon, water features and a full service restaurant and lounge to accommodate our guests. Our lodge will enable you to attract top name entertainment because there will be a first class facility available to accommodate their needs. The Voyageur History Center will be more than a center that promotes the park…We have no doubt that a partnership with the City of International Falls will be beneficial to the entire community.”

Volin summed up a recent letter to Mayor Mason with a telling statement, “As we work together to accomplish our common goals and objectives, it is our sincere hope we will continue to build and grow a first class business community with the City to create jobs, increase property sales and lodging tax revenue, generate income from utilities and beautify the City of International Falls”. Volin is planning a spring 2008 ground breaking.”

Two multi-million dollar projects, each estimating a two year building process. The adage is that good things come in three’s. It is clear that in Borderland, outta site things come in twos.

Barb Owen-Boerger
CH Consulting for
Koochiching Economic Develoment Authority
218-283-8180
 


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