Lake Lillian to host ‘town talks’ Monday on local business
LAKE LILLIAN -- Spurred by the recent closing of the town's only grocery store, Lake Lillian will host a pair of community talking sessions this coming week on business recruitment and retention.
LAKE LILLIAN - Spurred by the recent closing of the town’s only grocery store, Lake Lillian will host a pair of community talking sessions this coming week on business recruitment and retention.
The goal is to look at “the whole big picture” of local business, said Susan Jungclaus, city clerk.
Both meetings will be held Monday at the Lake Lillian City Center. The first one is at 3:30 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m.
Through small-group discussions and a brief survey, city leaders hope to gain a sense of what types of businesses are needed in town and, perhaps more important, whether residents are willing and able to shop locally.
“We’ll find out how area people feel,” Jungclaus said. “Businesses don’t stay open on their own. There’s got to be the business and there’s got to be customers.”
Organizers plan to keep the meetings informal to encourage open conversation, she said. “It’s so we get people’s honest feelings about it.”
The city’s effort to address recruiting and retaining local businesses was prompted by the closing in mid-December of Lake Lillian’s only supermarket. The closest grocery stores are now in Cosmos,10 miles away, and Bird Island, 12 miles away.
Although a grocery outlet may be one of the most immediate needs, the larger issue is how Lake Lillian, population 238, can sustain its Main Street.
It’s a challenge for many small towns, said Jean Spaulding, assistant director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
One of the keys is educating residents about what it takes for a business to survive, she said. “The community needs to understand the difficulties a business owner faces and the challenges to staying viable.”
The EDC is co-hosting the town meetings in Lake Lillian and will work with city leaders on developing a business strategy.
“A big part of it is asking people what services they buy in town now,” Spaulding said. “This will help the existing businesses with knowing what the community thinks. We’re hoping we can fill some of those needs. … It’s healthy for the community to face these kinds of issues together. I applaud the community for being forward-thinking.”