By State Rep. Bud Nornes
We are at the midway point of summer (at least on the school calendar), but it’s not too late to schedule a Minnesota vacation or even a “daycation.”
In-state travel is an increasingly attractive option for many people who looking to get away but need to work within constraints of today’s economy. Explore Minnesota indicates tourism had an $11 billion annual economic impact on our state in 2007; Otter Tail County’s leisure and hospitality businesses had $67 million in gross sales, making tourism comparable to agriculture in its contributions to the gross state product.
That makes tourism a key revenue stream for the state as we combat the current recession. Local outfits appreciate our business and the hospitality industry is a major driver of our local economy. When we support the area hospitality industry, we also are supporting many friends, family and neighbors.
These businesses are the pillars of a healthy, sustainable economy. Each dollar spent at a locally owned business multiplies as income, wealth, jobs and tax revenue. Local businesses spend more of their money in our area, serving as an economic multiplier. Studies show each dollar spent locally circulates through our economy three or four times.
Keep in mind there is nothing in the federal stimulus packages to assure federal funds will be spent on small, locally owned businesses. Much of our economic development invests in big businesses that do not drive local economies like ours.
Economic incentive is a huge factor in shopping patterns and I encourage local businesses to do even more to promote their businesses and keep customers. Loyalty cards to reward repeat customers with discounts are an example.
You can find more information regarding tourism and the Minnesota economy by logging on to www.exploreminnesota.com or www.mntourism.org.