Small Town Feel

Falling in Love with the Alexandria Area

Meet the Auran Family…

My husband Nathanael and I were born and raised in Minot and Maxbass, North Dakota.  We had planned to live there forever, but with the oil boom came more traffic, higher prices, and more crime.  We wanted to relocate somewhere that had the small town feel where we could raise our family.  We both worked from home, I as a childcare provider and my husband a web developer, so we could essentially choose anywhere to live.

We had never been to Alexandria, but my parents had been many times and they loved it!  Upon their suggestion, we came here to visit in April 2014. As we explored the area, it became very clear that Alexandria was the perfect fit for our family.  We packed up and moved to Alexandria in June 2014 with our son Tai (13), and our daughters Savannah (11), Adeline (7), Emory (5), and Cambree (3). My parents also moved here a week later!

We had a few requirements we wanted from our new town; excellent schools, four distinct seasons, a small town feel but with lots of action in the community, a great church, closer proximity to a large metropolis and Alexandria met every item on the list!

We recently opened a new business in Alexandria in December 2016 – Escape Room Alexandria.  Every week, we get to see people come together and use their communication and problem-solving skills to successfully escape!  It has been so much fun for us!  We are so thankful we live in a place like Alexandria, where the community is growing and thriving.  It’s the perfect place to become an entrepreneur and it has been the perfect fit for our family.

We LOVE so many things about Alexandria.  We love having so many beautiful lakes to play and fish on.  We love spending winter Friday nights snowboarding down the runs at Andes Tower Hills.  We love biking and rollerblading on the Central Lakes Trail.  We love spending Thursday evenings on the courthouse lawn listening to local musicians.  We love the Douglas County Fair.  We love camping at Lake Carlos State Park.  We feel so lucky to live in a beautiful place where it feels like you’re on vacation every day.

Looking for more information about Living in the Alexandria Area >> CLICK HERE for more information











Family Living Alexandria Area Minnesota

Minnesota Named Second Best State to Raise a Family

New study cites family finances, health and safety, and high-quality education and child care among top factors

Minnesota is the second best state in the nation to raise a family, according to a new study from WalletHub. The new study ranked all 50 states across 42 factors, with Minnesota scoring especially high on measures of median family income and poverty, health and safety, and high-quality schools and child care.

“Minnesota’s great schools, excellent quality of life, and good work opportunities are some of the reasons why we have been rated the second best state for families,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “But the report got one thing wrong: no other state holds a candle to Minnesota!”

Minnesota scored especially strong in median family salary, ranking first out of all 50 states. Below, see additional scoring for Minnesota in the new study:

1st – Median Family Salary (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
3rd – Percent of Families in Poverty
4th – Separation & Divorce Rate
5th – Health & Safety
7th – Housing Affordability
9th – Percent of Families with Young Kids
9th – Violent Crime Rate
11th – Education & Child Care
12th – Unemployment Rate
15th – Infant-Mortality Rate
16th – Child-Care Costs (Adjusted for Median Family Income)

Click here to learn more about living in the Alexandria area >>

Other Top Rankings
Today’s new study follows other recent recognitions of Minnesota’s successes. Below, see some of Minnesota’s other top rankings from recent years.
#1 Best-Run State

Minnesota is the best-run state in the nation, according to a study published by USA Today that cites Minnesota’s strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and the state’s nearly perfect credit rating. Since ranking tenth in 2012, Minnesota has consistently climbed in the rankings under the same study, including ranking second last year.

#1 Best State to Retire In

Minnesota is the best state to retire, according to a study from AARP – the nation’s largest advocate for seniors. The study looked at affordability, housing, health care, quality of life, supports for family caregivers, and more.

#1 Best State for Women

Minnesota is the best state for women, according to a study from WalletHub. The study looked at women’s wages, health and safety, and economic and social well-being across all fifty states.

#2 Best State for Families

Minnesota is the #2 Best State to Raise a Family, according to a report from WalletHub. The study looked at family salaries, education opportunities, family fun, health and safety, affordability, unemployment rates, and more.

#3 Best State for Business

Minnesota is America’s #3 Best State for Business in 2017, according to a report released by CNBC. Minnesota moved into the third spot this year, after placing fourth in 2016 and coming in first as America’s Top State for Business in 2015.

#3 Best State Overall

Minnesota is the #3 Best State in America, according to a study from U.S. News and World Report. The study cited economic opportunities, great educations, and quality health care in Minnesota. It also ranked Minnesota as the #1 Best State in the Region, when compared to North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri.

New Release from the Office of Governor Mark Dayton:

Anderson Funeral Home

Honoring Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory

With roots going back to 1872, Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory has given many years of service to the Alexandria area. From the dedicated and caring staff to their commitment to the community Anderson’s has built a legacy of meaningful relationships and compassionate service. The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission & the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce were proud to have awarded Anderson’s Funeral Home & Crematory as the 2017 Business & Industrial Appreciation Day recipient.

For more of the Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory story please watch the video below:

The Business & Industrial Appreciation Day (BIAD) event has honored a Douglas County company each year since 1984, and is recognized as one of the largest and longest standing annual events of its type in greater Minnesota.  Annually, one company from the region is selected as the BIAD recipient based upon the following factors: 

  • Growth in number of employees; the impact of the business on the job market
  • Increase in sales and/or unit volume; an indication of continued growth
  • Capital Investment; an indication of commitment by the business to increase community capacity
  • Community Contributions; evidence of the business’s investment of time, skills, and resources to assist in community oriented projects

West Central SBDC Consultant in Alexandria Area

Shannon Berns is the newest consultant joining the West Central – Small Business Development Center (SBDC).  Shannon has a Masters of Business Administration degree from Hamline University.  Shannon has been an entrepreneur, small business owner, banker, Economic Development professional, marketing director and small business consultant.  Shannon is Founder of Du Nord Consulting located in Alexandria, MN.  The West Central SBDC has added Shannon Berns as a consultant to better serve clients in the Douglas, Stevens, Grant and Pope counties.

Shannon lives in the Alexandria, MN area. Shannon is an outdoor enthusiast who finds adventure in everything she does. She works directly with businesses and entrepreneurs to navigate their organization toward growth. Shannon believes in the importance of supporting and engaging a collaborative environment for our business community. In your backyard or across the globe.

Click HERE for the first steps to starting a business!

New Training Projects from MN Job Skills Partnership

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded workforce development grants totaling $2.2 million under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) to train 2,744 workers.

“Minnesota is forecasted to have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020. We can’t afford to leave Minnesotans unprepared for good job opportunities,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “These grants will help train thousands of Minnesotans, in every corner of our state, for diverse opportunities, including manufacturing and health care.”

“Over 295,000 Minnesotans have received training funded by the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership program, which has seen tremendous success in preparing Minnesotans for careers of the future,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “These training grants are used to upgrade employees’ skills and effectively make Minnesota businesses more competitive and desirable places to work.”

Under the program, educational institutions and businesses work together to secure MJSP funding. Businesses initially meet with an accredited educational institution to explain their training needs and to learn options. Once they agree on a plan, the educational institution contacts DEED to determine eligibility for a grant.

The following grants were awarded in the Alexandria Area:

Alexandria Technical and Community College and Douglas Machine, Inc., Alexandria – $43,785
Alexandria Technical & Community College will create a training platform to allow Douglas Machine to train 130 employees via short video training modules specific to Douglas Machine.
Local contact: Greg Sandeno, Alexandria Technical and Community College, 320-762-4553

Alexandria Technical and Community College and 3M, Alexandria and Staples – $221,309
Both 3M locations are undergoing infrastructure improvements and technology updates to meet growing global demands. A total of 488 employees will receive training to address skills gaps and prepare for future challenges. 3M plans to hire an additional 28 employees over the next two years.
Local contact: Greg Sandeno, Alexandria Technical and Community College, 320-762-4553

(contributed: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development)

Alexandria 7th Best Place for 401(k) plans in MN

Rank City Employer Contribution % Investment Performance Administrative Fees Best 401(k) Plans Index
1 Champlin, MN 91.2% -0.7% 0.3% 96.16
2 Jordan, MN 78.1% -0.8% 0.1% 90.53
3 Little Falls, MN 63.5% -0.5% 0.2% 82.90
4 Willmar, MN 62.0% -0.3% 0.1% 82.66
5 Belle Plaine, MN 52.4% -0.1% 0.1% 78.12
6 Redwood Falls, MN 50.5% 0.4% 0.2% 77.23
7 Alexandria, MN 51.3% -0.5% 0.3% 76.70
8 Woodbury, MN 47.1% -0.9% 0.2% 74.74
9 Farmington, MN 46.0% -0.8% 0.2% 74.37
10 Falcon Heights, MN 45.1% -0.6% 0.2% 73.86

Additional information on the SmartAsset study, including the full results, methodology, and interactive map can be found here:

Benefits Survey

West Central MN SHRM Wage & Benefits Survey

A Comprehensive Wage & Benefits Survey of Compensation, Company Benefits and Policies
for the West Central Minnesota Area.

Are you a business located within the counties of Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens Traverse & Wilkin? Do you wonder if your business is competitive in the wages and benefits that you offer your employees? Would you like to receive local data on wages and benefits offered by employers in our area?

If so, we encourage your company to participate in the 2017 West Central MN Wage & Benefit Survey. This opportunity is provided by the West Central MN chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. This is an excellent opportunity for businesses to receive information on wages and benefits of companies and organizations in west central Minnesota.

Area businesses of any industry and size can participate in the 2017 West Central MN Wage & Benefit Survey, open June 1- June 30, 2017. All survey results will be compiled by the AAEDC and all company information will be kept strictly confidential. Final survey results will be based upon aggregate data compilations to protect individual company information. There is no cost to participate in the survey, but final data will only be provided to participating employers.

All data will be held in the strictest confidence by the AAEDC, compiled and released in aggregate form with minimum job data being required to protect individual company information.

Economic Development Week May 8-13

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) is excited to be celebrating National Economic Development Week, May 8th through 13th in the Alexandria area.

“National Economic Development Week is a wonderful way to bring increased awareness to those development programs that enhance the local economic impact. We as the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission continue to strive in promoting and strengthening our community in many facets.” – Nicole Fernholz, Executive Director, Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission

What is Economic Development? By definition economic development is the efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.  Even though there isn’t a typical “one size fits all” all Economic Development Organization’s (EDO) assist in developing vibrant communities and creating high-quality jobs, but there is no single strategy, policy or program used for achieving successful economic development

An EDO can service a city, county, region or state – our Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) provides services to all of Douglas County. The services an EDO provides also vary by organization. One organization may focus heavily on workforce development while another may look largely at downtown development and revitalization. The AAEDC has a number of programs that help market the entire region to attract new businesses, as well as assist in retaining and expanding the businesses that currently reside here.

(Courtesy: “One on One” with Joe Korkowski – Voice of Alexandria)

  • Demographic Information: Our office puts out the annual Alexandria Area Facts Guide which is a community profile providing a demographic and statistical overview of Douglas County. This data is used not only by prospective companies looking to relocate to the area but also by individuals looking to move to our community or local businesses who are undergoing strategic planning.
  • Business Planning and Startup: If you have an idea for a business start–up and are unsure of the steps to make it happen, the AAEDC office can assist you in all aspects of the journey to start and grow a business. AAEDC services are completely confidential and provided free of charge to the businesses and residents of Douglas County. We also partner with other entities to be a full-service stop – the West Central Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants will meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners during this time and provide cost-free, confidential consulting and assistance services.
  • Financial Assistance: We have a Revolving Loan Fund Program that supplies small businesses and entrepreneurs with the gap financing needed to start or expand their business. Revolving Loan Funds (RLF’s) have become an increasingly popular business financing tool because of the ability to leverage public and private dollars, as well as the bonus of recycling these funds within a community. As the RLF receives the principal and interest from outstanding loans, the money is made available to another borrower. RLF funds are available to businesses within Douglas County.
  • Site Selection Assistance: In a continuously growing effort to assist area realtors and property owners in marketing commercial properties throughout the area, the state, and the nation, the AAEDC maintains two supplemental property listing databases of “for-sale” and “for lease” properties throughout Douglas County. These databases are free for the listing of commercial properties in Douglas County and serve as a database of properties that can be easily accessed by individuals, businesses, and site selectors from throughout the nation.
  • Workforce Development: The AAEDC has launched a campaign called Living Alexandria Area with the intention of creating awareness and attraction of potential workforce to the Alexandria area. Our office works closely with the Academies of Alexandria to help provide them with new opportunities in hopes of finding a career, whether they continue their education or step directly into the workforce. The AAEDC also partners with the Alexandria Technical and Community College – Customized Training Center to offer regional training’s and development for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Economic Development Week was created and is coordinated by The International Economic Development Council. It is being held during the week of the organization’s 91st anniversary as the largest professional membership organization for economic developers. 2017 will be the second consecutive year Economic Development Week was coordinated by IEDC. More than 75 communities participated in the 2016 campaign. A memorial keepsake booklet was created to showcase celebration activities communities across the country hosted. More than 40 members of Congress, county and local elected officials had resolutions and proclamations signed. The Economic Development Administration also issued a statement commemorating Economic Development Week.  

“This national event helps communities recognize economic development practitioners and shed light on their programs and their role in stimulating job creation by businesses in their community. This program helps us all share information on two priorities; informing community leaders about the value of economic development, and ensuring that everyone in our communities have the opportunity to succeed through access to a good job.” -F. Michael Langley FM, CEO, Greater MSP, Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN, IEDC 2017 Board Chair.

Living, Alexandria Area, relocating, small business, moving

Celebrating Small Business!!!

We had a wonderful time celebrating National Small Business Week (April 30-May 6) at the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission! We had the opportunity to celebrate and showcase some of the many great small businesses in the Alexandria area. Joined by city and county officials we toured four different small business types – starting with Alex Assisted Living, followed by Geneva Beach Resort & Sugarbush Lodge, then Creations, An Event Studio and last Copper Trail Brewing Company. We were able to tour their businesses, find out how they got started, and new developments in their business or industry. Make sure to click the business links above to find out even more about these area businesses.

Also, check out below for a few of the photos from the tour, and follow us on Facebook: @LivingAlexAreaMN and Instagram: @LivingAlexArea to see more photos and videos.

Alexandria Area High School, Future Workforce

Endless Opportunities to Engage with Our Future Workforce

The Academies of Alexandria are continuously looking for volunteers to partner and interact with our future workforce within the four academies; Business, Communication & Entrepreneurship (BCE), Health Sciences & Human Services (HSHS), Engineering, Manufacturing, Technologies & Natural Resources (EMTNR) and Freshman Academy. The latest program seeking partnerships is CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies). What is CAPS? Alexandria CAPS is an innovative program at the high school that focuses on immersing students in authentic career experiences.

CAPS is designed to help students increase professional skills needed for working in the real world, whether college is next or stepping directly into the workforce. These skills are developed through hands-on, project based experiences while working in a professional setting. With the help of the community, these unique experiences are possible.

Each academy is hosting a CAPS Showcase to learn about the positive impact of partnering with a CAPS class, as well as hearing from past students and business partners talk about their experience with the new program. Learn how you can get involved. These dedicated partnerships build a pipeline for future workforce in the area.