TedX empty stage

Bridging the Gap Between Urban and Greater Minnesota

Here at Bell­mont Part­ners, we’re strong believ­ers in not focus­ing sole­ly on our local, urban com­mu­ni­ties, but also con­nect­ing with the many busi­ness­es, peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties in Greater Min­neso­ta. We work with orga­ni­za­tions all across the state, as well as across the coun­try. With that in mind, I was for­tu­nate to attend TEDxBemidji’s first-ever event, trav­el­ing over 200 miles from the Twin Cities to see sev­en speak­ers talk about and demon­strate the amaz­ing work they’re doing in North­ern Min­neso­ta, in the tra­di­tion­al TED Talks for­mat. The theme of this year’s event was “Thrive” – and I can safe­ly say that based on what I saw on stage, our fel­low Min­nesotans in the Great North are tru­ly thriv­ing, pur­su­ing their pas­sions and shar­ing in a community.

Dis­cus­sion top­ics ranged from ice div­ing, to race rela­tions, to a mov­ing musi­cal per­for­mance. Bemidji’s thriv­ing arts and cul­ture scene, out­doors inter­est, and yes, tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion, were on dis­play. One of the inno­va­tion dri­vers in the region is its Giga­bit fiber optic inter­net net­work through Paul Bun­yan Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (a co-oper­a­tive inter­net provider, an inno­v­a­tive con­cept in itself), which allows res­i­dents to work at the fastest inter­net speeds, even in rur­al Min­neso­ta where in the past, inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty has been spot­ty at best. The city even has a co-work­ing space called Launch­Pad that sup­ports star­tups and entrepreneurs.

Locat­ed in the north­west region of the state and the first city on the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er, Bemid­ji is a place I’ve been to many times over the past few years, vis­it­ing fam­i­ly and friends, and have seen an increase in new stores, restau­rants and activ­i­ties pop­ping up. Sit­u­at­ed right on the edge of Lake Bemid­ji, the down­town area is a fab­u­lous area to walk, shop and eat. And I’m not the only one who has noticed an uptick in activ­i­ty – Twin Cities Busi­ness Mag­a­zine pro­filed the city in its Feb­ru­ary issue, cit­ing the city’s rise and the entre­pre­neur­ial spir­it of the inno­va­tors liv­ing there.

At Bell­mont Part­ners, we believe that bridg­ing the gap between our urban and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties and con­nect­ing with orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als oper­at­ing in Greater Min­neso­ta ben­e­fits every­one. Some of the chal­lenges we’ve heard about from busi­ness­es in out­state Min­neso­ta include a lack of access to net­work­ing with oth­er like-mind­ed orga­ni­za­tions, launch­ing a new prod­uct or ser­vice that may be well-known in the city, but is brand new to a small town, and the dif­fi­cul­ty of attract­ing qual­i­fied prospec­tive employ­ees and new cus­tomers alike to a rur­al area. To that end, we part­ner with sev­er­al awe­some clients doing great work out­side of the Twin Cities area, including:

  • Mid­west Dairy Asso­ci­a­tion: Help­ing edu­cate con­sumers about where their food comes from and telling the sto­ries of farm­ers and agri­cul­ture inno­va­tions hap­pen­ing in rur­al America
  • Explore Min­neso­ta: Pro­mot­ing tourism through­out the entire state, includ­ing those beau­ti­ful north shore dri­ves and south­ern bluffs
  • Lily Pad Yoga: Spread­ing the word about a new hot yoga stu­dio in Bemid­ji that encour­ages a com­mit­ment to phys­i­cal and men­tal wellness

The world is con­nect­ed now more than ever with high-speed inter­net, social media and dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions; it’s also more impor­tant than ever to define a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy to align all those tools and oppor­tu­ni­ties, whether you’re a small busi­ness own­er or a leader at a thriv­ing cor­po­ra­tion – no mat­ter where you’re located.

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