TRF Making It Home Kickoff February 11

Thief River Falls, Minnesota Making It Home facilitator training
TRF Making It Home Facilitators receive training and gear up for recruiting community members to participate in a grassroots community marketing effort.

Help us attract new residents to the area.

Get involved with TRF Making It Home.

Attend the Kickoff Event.

February 11, 6:30 pm.

Ralph Engelstad, Imperial Room

Declining rural populations have been in the news for decades. There is little doubt that the trend line of the most rural counties in the upper Midwest has been down. But just because some rural areas are declining does not mean that all areas are declining or are destined to decline. In fact, some rural areas, like the Thief River Falls area, are realizing that the quality of life they provide can be marketed and is an important factor for families looking to relocate from urban areas.

Marketing a community is not something that comes easily for rural residents. If you have lived in a rural location for many years, it becomes difficult to visualize what it may offer a new resident, especially one that is moving from an urban area to a rural area. People looking to relocate usually find a community in two ways — through referrals from family and friends and through a community website and other related social media.

Unfortunately, both of these strategies can be challenging for rural communities. Current residents often don’t realize the importance of their network of family and friends as a primary conduit for new resident recruitment. They may not understand what a new resident is looking for or what their community has to offer them.

“TRF Making It Home” is kicking off a new, grassroots marketing effort, using the format developed by University of Minnesota Extension called Marketing Hometown America. A kickoff event is scheduled for Monday, February 11, 6:30 pm at the Ralph Engelstad Imperial Room.

The “Marketing Hometown America” program empowers communities to create a vision to attract new residents. Designed as a tool to create dialogue that moves people toward action, the process can be the spark to help a rural community look at itself in a new way. Marketing Hometown America engages communities to gather a variety of ideas starting with a community kickoff event and continuing with four small-group gatherings and a large-group planning forum.

Advance Thief River Director, Michelle Landsverk, says recruiting new people to the community is one of her highest priorities. “If our local economy is going to thrive, we need people to move here, purchase goods and services from our local businesses, and work for our local employers.”

TRF Making It Home facilitators are central to the success of the project. A group of community volunteers was recruited to serve as facilitators: Jamie Bakken, Lars Dyrud, Kristen Haase, Sean Ranum, Angie Westling, Mark Schmitke, Karmon Trontvet, Nicole Peterson, Karen Griffin, Josh Watne, and Natasha Reierson.  The group just finished six hours of training with Jody Horntvedt, a University of Minnesota Extension educator,  learning about the Marketing Hometown America discussion format, how to recruit participants, and best practices in facilitation. Facilitators will be recruiting study circle participants, small groups of 8-12 people, in the next couple of weeks.  

The steering committee overseeing the project includes Mayor Brian Holmer, Rick Trontvet, Laura Stengrim, Ashley Nerhus, Brad Bergstrom, Kermit Genereux, Jessica Muller, Beth Nelson, Rod Otterness, and Michelle Landsverk. Following the kickoff event on February 11, study circles will work through a structured set of conversations, exploring various facets of the community, and ultimately, working toward a marketing plan to recruit new residents.

Broad community participation is desired, so interested community members are encouraged to attend the kickoff event to learn about the program and how they can get involved. (Preregistration not required.)

For more information, contact Michelle Landsverk by calling 218-280-1755 or emailing.

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