The state of Otsego to be I-94 West Chamber topic Jan. 22

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing writer

As people embrace the new year, the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce wants to give 2012 one last look. At their annual State of the Cities event, they’re bringing together local businesses and civic leaders to reflect on the ideas and policies that helped shape the past year.

“It’s great to hear about all the things that are happening. New housing is starting to happen, new businesses are coming to town, new initiatives civic leaders are taking,” said Rhonda Baack, president of the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce.

The I-94 West Chamber membership includes 10 cities and 500 businesses in the northwest metro area along Interstate 94. The event will feature civic leaders from Albertville, Dayton, Hanover, Otsego, Rogers and St. Michael and business owners from throughout the region.

Baack says that the informal nature of the get-together will help facilitate the sharing of ideas. The event will be a luncheon with presentations and plenty of time for networking.

“I think whenever you can bring mayors, city administrators, and council members from different cities together, it’s always a good thing. One might say that they’re doing something different with their garbage services or water treatment services or they did something with a vacant building and it might be a new idea to someone from another city,” Baack said.

The event is especially timely in light of the recent elections and the many changes in local leadership that resulted.

Eric Lucero was recently elected to the Dayton City Council. He was sworn in this month to his first-ever term in public office, along with another new council member, Scott Salonek. The city also has a new mayor, former Council Member Tim McNeil.

Lucero said that he is very interested in hearing from other city leaders in his area and finding out what new ideas they have.

“Understanding what our surrounding communities do can have a potential impact on the city of Dayton. I want to stay informed on what’s happening around us because there might be the opportunity for partnerships with other cities or new ideas we can see in action,” Lucero explained.

The event will also highlight local businesses in every facet, including its sponsor, Grand Casino, and the caterer, The River Inn of Hanover.

Baack said, “These people are usually in the business of running their cities and their businesses. This is a chance for everyone to share and learn and get ready for a great 2013.”

The I-94 West Chamber of Commerce State of the Cities luncheon will be held Jan. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the St. Michael City Center. For more information on the event, visit