Fall 2017 Newsletter

Photo from the Bluff Land Tri
Thank you to the groups and volunteers that organized fall events in our area! Photos below are from Taste of the Trail in Peterson (9/9) and in Rushford (9/23).

Chamber Activities

The Chamber is looking for businesses that would like to be involved with Small Business Saturday on November 25. We have window signs, totes, buttons, and more to promote this day and its efforts to get folks shopping in local businesses. Please contact the Chamber to learn more and to become involved.
The Chamber held a ribbon-cutting on November 1 to welcome our newest member, Dunkin Doodles Grooming, to the Rushford Peterson Valley business community. Teisha Escobar has opened the dog grooming business at her Rushford home. Best wishes on many successful years! Click here for the business contact information.
Pictured above are (left to right) Jen Hengel, Beth Tudahl, Megan and Arne Boyum, Teisha Escobar, Angela Colbenson, Kathy Riley, and Sally Ryman.
Wayfinding Signs. The Chamber partnered with the Rushford Community Foundation and EDA to obtain new wayfinding signs in our area. Have you noticed them? Some were posted in Rushford late this summer and identify attractions or destinations for visitors. A few more directional signs are in the process of ordering. Consider our area as a new visitor would and you may think of more signs that are needed. Contact the Chamber if you have ideas for additional signage.

Information Kiosks. Related to wayfinding, the Chamber and EDA continue to work on a project to install information kiosks for visitors to learn about things to do, where to eat and where to stay in our valley. Stay tuned for opportunities to provide your input for these kiosks in the coming weeks.

Streetscape Beautification. A Minnesota Department of Transportation landscape designer was in Rushford in mid-October to meet with local committee members who are working on downtown streetscape beautification plans, in partnership with the City of Rushford's Trees, Trails, and Parks Board. The designer will produce drawings (some time in December) for potential landscaping along the Highway 43 corridor that is based on best practices and the committee's report. The committee members also plan to meet with individual businesses along this street. Highway 30 is scheduled for replacement in 2022, and streetscape design will be part of this project's process from the start.
Marketing Efforts. The Chamber promoted our valley this summer and fall through continued sponsorship messages on Wisconsin Public Radio and website advertising on www.RootRiverTrail.org and www.HaveFunBiking.com. Paid advertising through Facebook and Google AdWords also continues to drive traffic to events and the Rushford Peterson Valley website. These advertisements are part of the Chamber's Explore MN Tourism Grant that covers 50 percent of the costs. So what are the results of these ads? Here are a few stats to-date:
  • RootRiverTrail.org - 45% of referrals to our website have come through the RootRiverTrail.org website, which accounts for 21% of our website's total year-to-date activity.
  • Facebook ads - These ads use photos or videos and are either boosted posts or created for targeted audiences (visitors from surrounding states). Ads so far this year have been viewed by more than 60,000 people, and 12,400 people took action by watching a video clicking the link to our website. Another 21% of our website traffic this year has come from Facebook.
  • Google AdWords - This paid ad appears when people search for certain keywords on Google, such as "Minnesota," "Bike Trail," or "Root River." We only use this advertising for searches generated from surrounding states. The following ad ran from mid-August through the end of October and 687 users clicked through to our website (601 were new website visitors) and viewed an average 4 pages:
The Chamber strives to use marketing dollars in economical and effective ways and is always interested to hear about new avenues to market our area. What websites, publications, or other media do you use to determine where to visit or when you make travel or destination plans? Send us an email!
Membership Drive 2018 will begin this month. Please watch your email inbox for details. The Chamber exists with your continued support and membership!

Cyber Security Seminar Re-cap

On September 20 Chamber members were invited to the Rushford Public Library to hear from Mike Flores, an IT professional who assists SELCO libraries and private businesses around the region. Flores spoke about securing your private data by being a difficult target. If you missed this presentation, Click here for the slides and read below for more details:

Phishing is a form of fake message used to hijack accounts, steal identity, or spam your connections. Most often, phishing occurs through email, but it can also come in the form of websites, social media, text messages, or phone calls. A few tips to quickly identify a message as phishing: (1) misspellings or grammar errors; (2) sense of urgency for you to act; (3) asks for personal information; (4) when you hover your mouse over a link, you see a misleading link in the lower left corner of your screen.

Passwords are critical. Flores said to make passwords difficult by creating phrases unique to you. For instance, the phrase "the lion sleeps tonight" can become the following using numbers and characters: tH31i0Ns13ePs2NiGh#. He said there is often a domino effect--if hackers guess your user id and password on one site, they will try it on other related sites. Flores offered a few options for third-party password storage sites, which he said are often more secure than saving on your internet browser cache (the first place hackers will go):
  • LastPass - cloud-based; offers a free version or a $12/year plan
  • 1Password - cloud-based
  • KeePass - not on the cloud, but rather stored on your local computer only
In particular, Flores likes LastPass since it generates random passwords and remembers them for you, which is "better than the post-it note under your keyboard."

Malware is a virus or infection. Viruses often run in the background of your computer, and malware comes from or impacts advertising and your browser. Ransomware is the worst form, as it encrypts a hard drive and possibly networks and USB drives.

Improve your cyber security:
  • Use a Secure Browser such as Chrome or Firefox (not Internet Explorer or Edge)
  • Use an Adblocker such as Adblocker Plus or uBlock Origin
  • Hover Over Links and Pay Attention to URLs
  • https - make sure login or retail sites have this "s" to show its more secure
  • Keep up with the updates for your operating system, plug-ins (like Flash, Java, Adobe, etc.), browsers, and antivirus
  • Scan your computer regularly - Windows 7 or 10 come with Windows Defender, a good product. Free or paid versions of Avast or AVG are available but these can be slow. Norton and McAfee offer paid products but often no more protection than what is available for free. Use Malwarebytes and Adwcleaner for free scan services.
  • Backup your data regularly, and keep external drives detached when not in use. Consider cloud-based backup such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Backblaze
Thanks to Mike Flores for sharing his knowledge and experience with us, and thanks to Susan Hart for arranging Flores' visit with Chamber members and the community. Please contact the Chamber if you have questions about the information above.

Chamber Member News

Ferndale Country Club has new hours for the winter months. The kitchen is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Il Luigi Italian Restaurant celebrated its first anniversary this past week. We wish Luis and Iris continued success for years to come. We'll try a bit of Italian here: "Congratulazioni per questo anniversario!"

Grace Place celebrates its 25th year with an open house November 4 from 10 a.m.-12 noon at 66 E. 2nd Street in downtown Winona. Grace Place provides Christian guidance, support, and encouragement for women with unplanned pregnancies and for families experiencing brokenness and change. We have been fortunate to have Grace Place's thrift store and ministry in Rushford for several years now, and we congratulate the organization on reaching this milestone!

City of Rushford EDA would like to share a webinar from the Community Venture Network regarding Business Succession & Transition Planning. Find time to hear from some experts on this extremely important topic -- whether you're looking to sell or transition or you simply want to better understand what the process entails: Click here to view the recorded 45-minute webinar.

Rushford Library is hosting guided instruction on Ancestry.com on Monday, November 6 at 7 p.m. Limited seating so call 507-864-7600. Find your roots on our library's PCs!

St. John's Hart Ladies Aid is having its Fall Sale on Saturday, November 4 at 1 p.m. Stop by 31497 Highway 43 for baked goods, homemade quilts, cards, crafts, canned items and produce. Lunch will be served for a free-will offering, which will go to the church's adopted seminary student.

Nordic Lanes is again offering Youth Bowling over the winter months--after school on Wednesdays. The program started October 25, but it's not too late to register. The cost for Pee Wee bowlers is $3 per week. The cost for the Future Strikers league is $5 per week and a one-time $8 sanction fee. Nordic Lanes provides transportation from R-P Schools.

Rushford Lutheran Church is having a Community-wide Pork Dinner on Sunday, November 5 to raise money for hurricane relief. Dinner will begin at 11:00 a.m. until all is gone. A free-will donation is asked. All donations go towards hurricane victims.
Also, Rushford Luther Church's Fall Bazaar - Craft & Bake Sale - is Saturday, November 11: 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Semcac Clinic will offer FREE rapid HIV testing on Tuesday, November 28 from 1:30 p.m.–4:00 p.m. at the Rushford Food Shelf's Jessie Street location. This testing is open to the public, and health insurance status does not matter to be tested.
Semcac and Root River Floral are partnering to raise funds for the local food shelf.

In Other News

The Small Business Resource Expo is presented by New Business Minnesota to introduce small business owners and managers to vital business resources that can help grow their business, run them better and help position them for new opportunities. Click here for details and to register.
Click the image above to learn more about the 7 Rivers Alliance's 2017 State of the Region luncheon. Speakers include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Economic Development Administration Regional Director Jeannette Tamayo. Topics addressed will be the 2017 State of the Workforce, the 2017-2027 WISE Plan (Workforce Innovation for a Strong Economy), 2017 Executive Business Survey Results, and more.
Articles worth the read:
Find your valued customers
Raising prices in your small business
Passion is a key factor

Photo Gallery

If you missed the Facebook post, click this link for some terrific aerial photos taken above Rushford by Post Bulletin Photographer Andrew Link. A unique perspective!