King of Trails Highway 75 Coalition
A UMC student was hired to identify contacts, improve communications and create greater awareness and support from communities along the Historic King of Trails Scenic Byway.
This project helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses in the coalition and created a dialog between communities to encourage engagement of stakeholders and communities to maintain the scenic byway designation. It identifies six intrinsic qualities adherent to Hwy 75: Scenic, Natural, Historical, Cultural, Archeological and Recreational. It found our strengths including four points : Connection, advantageous location of the highway. Promotion, signage by the Coalition on the highway along with brochures and website and participation in cooperative marketing opportunities. We have potential Funding opportunities and have creative application processes and standards.
- Communities along US Hwy 75
- Explore MN Tourism
- Crookston Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Northwest Regional Development Commission
- Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership
The overall goal of the initiative is to keep the efforts of the Coalition alive on highway 75. The student developed materials including contact scripts with the help of the Crookston CVB and others. He created a list of contacts of governmental officials along with destination marketing associations and businesses which occur along the route. A caravan of people then visited each community along the highway corridor.
- The student created Strategic Marketing Plan to guide the coalition of communities in the decision making and to ensure the viability of the program. The Sustainable Partnership helped with funding and guidance. Community Vitality staff was involved in specific projects and connection guidance. They also provide workspace for the student.
- This project enabled our student to find and identify the stakeholders and community leaders so we could setup meetings with them, which accomplished one of our major goals to connect the communities on the scenic byway. Having accomplished that a dialog between communities was opened and most of the communities in the northern section of the scenic byway are interested in sustaining the development of the Historic Trail. The Strategic Marketing Plan created will guide the coalition on communities in its decision making over following years and ensure the viability of the program. This project identified the strengths of the existing coalition which included: Connection, Promotion/Marketing, Potential Funding and Application Process and Standards.
- The biggest challenge with this project was finding the right people in each of the communities that we needed to connect with. Next it was getting their perceptions on the areas of greatest possible improvement for the Hwy 75 King of Trails. Some of those challenges include a more diverse mix of marketing, better branding of the whole highway. Return to dedicated community and small business annual membership fee for highway and expansion of other support. Highway Development with MN DoT with expansion of local amenities along Hwy 75 regionally. We need to have regular member and state byway meetings to develop program objectives. This becomes extremely difficult with the large expanse of highway over 400 miles. I would have liked to have seen a final meeting with both of the students who worked on this project, having the North and South compare notes on the strengths and challenges of both regions.
- This project was replicated in the southern half of Minnesota's Trails Scenic Byway. Unfortunately, we do not know the findings of that project. It would have been helpful to compare notes on this project.
- The next step is to bring these newly found contacts together for a meeting to discuss and take action on the strategic marketing plan. We need to have a call to action to develop community partnerships to increase public awareness of the King of Trails Scenic Byway.
Last updated 4-7-2016