Economic impact is in millions of dollars
By John TorgrimsonMonday, July 23, 2001
Mike Charlebois looks tired and weary as he waits on a customer. He and his wife Julie have spent the past several months remodelling the Root River Outfitters in Lanesboro adding a restaurant to their establishment. Called Riverside on the Root, the restaurant opened for the first time just the night before. Young kids in forest green shirts make sandwiches, while a young man in a suit and tie waits to apply for a job. At the other end of the building, a bevy of tourists in swimming suits are renting tubes to take comfort from the 90 degree heat.
"We wanted to open on a Monday night so that we could work out the kinks," Mike said, as workmen busily installed the plumbing for the soda machine. "We’ll no doubt be overwhelmed when the weekend comes."
Julie and Mike have been in the tourist business since 1996 when they rented horses and gave riding lessons on their farm south of town. They later bought their present building, located on Parkway Avenue at the confluence of the Root River and the bike trail, a perfect location for outfitting tourists looking for recreational activities with bikes, canoes and tubes.
For the Charlebois, the investment in the Riverside on the Root is a way to fine-tune their business. Julie said that because of the floods of 2000, and bad rainy weather in general, they lost 60% of their weekend business. They also saw the need for another eating establishment in town to handle the influx of visitors. They hope the restaurant will smooth out the peaks and valleys of the outfitting business and extend their "tourist season" all year around. They are bullish on tourism, expecting that the industry will continue to grow. They point out the possibility that a Regional Art Center might lead that growth.
Mike and Julie’s restaurant opening is just one example of the kinds of investments businesses are making to capture a share of the ever growing tourist industry.Build it and they will come
Tourism is definitely on the map in Bluff Country. A recent draft of proposed changes to the Fillmore County Ag District identified land along the Root River and bike trail as essential recreational land that should be preserved alongside highly valued agriculture ground. This alone is an implied acknowledgement that tourism is having an economic impact in the area. Some people would go .....[Read the Rest]