By: Margaret Dillard – Chamber President
I’ve heard more than one long-time resident say that they think Fairmont is experiencing a period of growth and opportunity over the last three or four years. It’s evident that there’s confidence in the local financial picture. Cemstone’s new property north of the fairgrounds, the approaching opening of Tractor Supply and Marina Lodge Rental are significant investments! Lakeview Health Systems revealed plans for a new facility and Fairmont Opera House recently announced a capital improvement campaign to include an elevator, community spaces and to restore parts of the 116 year-old facility.
Seasonal activities abound, as well. CER facilitates the Fairmont Summer Playground Program and Makerspace Mondays from mid-June through the first week in August for children grades 1-6. Several venues offer live music and entertainment. This summer also promises to bring fun on the lakes with canoe, kayak and pontoon rentals.
Recreational options are plentiful. Martin County has movie theatres, a bowling alley and numerous places to fish and hunt.
Difficulties are not going unnoticed.
We are fortunate to live, work and play here, but we have work to do and challenges to accept if we are to be a place where people want to be. Fairmont Area Life is a project that encourages people to relocate to Martin County. It showcases amenities, community growth and testimonials from people that we connected with who love the community and were able to transition well.
The effort has documented success and we are pleased with its initial messaging, but as we communicated with residents and future residents, we realized that lack of housing and home ownership and lack of childcare creates significant roadblocks to community growth.
The City of Fairmont is pursuing housing options, has an active rehabilitation program and continues to market White Tail Ridge subdivision. A team is identified who may be able to participate in a program to address the childcare shortage.
Rural communities will see population numbers fall unless we invite and make welcome newcomers from all walks of life. Recently, I heard how a professional who was considering home ownership in Fairmont decided instead to live in Mankato because she didn’t feel it was safe for her and her family! While touring neighborhood looking for homes for sales, she was followed, she has been told she doesn’t belong here because of the color of her skin. Multiple situations made her feel unsafe and unwelcome. The Fairmont Area Life site mentions that the community has been named among of the best cities for young families. There’s a group who are gathering to enhance our sense of community and address local diversity challenges. Also, every 5th Thursday (the next is May 31st) is “Newcomers and Neighbors.” This group brings together locals and those who have recently relocated and hopes to offer connections, resources and relationships. If you would like to know more about these groups, contact me or Roni at Community, Education and Recreation (CER).
Martin County offers amenities that people identify with quality of life. New activity and investments signal a bright future, but with progress comes the challenge to move from what we have known to new and different situations.
The Fairmont Area Chamber is an advocate for promoting a healthy business climate by facilitating access to leaders, communication and education through programs and services for its members. We continue to operate on the idea that we all succeed when we all succeed, so that takes us into realms where we choose to help other people, groups, organizations. The journey asks for participation from everyone.
As always I invite conversation, ideas and actions that lead to progress!