In the Know column: This time of year is easy to love

There are so many people, businesses and organizations that work together throughout the year to make the Alexandria area a place you’d choose.

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By Nicole Fernholz

If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of winter. I endure January through March for the other beautiful seasons — specifically our Alexandria summers. But I will say that this time of the year is easy to love. The beauty of our area in the month of December is unbeatable. And I’m sure that every community says it about themselves, but there is just something special about our area, and it’s easy to see and feel around the holiday season. There are so many people, businesses and organizations that work together throughout the year to make the Alexandria area a place you’d choose. And as the holiday season ramps up, we have the time to pause, reflect and be thankful for all that our community has to offer.

For example, if you’ve had the pleasure of walking downtown since Thanksgiving, you can’t help but appreciate the glow of the Christmas lights that are compliments of ALP Utilities. The celebration in the Runestone Museum’s “Christmas in the Fort” and the formal lighting of downtown signify the unofficial start of our holiday season on the day after Thanksgiving. Hours of volunteerism go into the event that is attended by thousands of people.

The lights only emphasize the beauty of our downtown and the work those businesses put in to make our downtown Alexandria a destination. The Alexandria Downtown Merchants leverage their individual business strengths to promote the attractiveness of the area to residents and visitors. Every year, thousands of people travel to Alexandria to attend the events hosted by them and to simply shop downtown.

Explore Alexandria Minnesota is our Visitor and Convention Bureau, and they are producing incredible video, print and radio ads to market our area to tourists. They partner with our hotels, restaurants and breweries, parks and businesses to showcase our area’s amenities. We are fortunate to live in a place that people want to vacation in.


The Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce works with them to promote the area as the ultimate place to live work and play. Their work focuses on connecting and collaborating with businesses, organizations and community members. They advocate for the needs of our business community, while also hosting premiere networking events.

Alexandria Technical and Community College continues to have one of the highest graduation and retention rates in the state of Minnesota. They have 48 programs to choose from and are recognized as the best community college in Minnesota.

It would be impossible to mention all the businesses, elected officials, nonprofits organizations, and community members who truly work together to make our area a successful regional center. Every community has challenges, but I believe we live in a community where the residents and businesses want to work together to address those challenges. As Helen Keller said. “Alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much.” I feel thankful to live in a community like that, and I’m even willing to endure those colder winter months to do that.

Nicole Fernholz is the director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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