Rebooted Crookston Visitors Bureau nearing launch

Jess Bengtson

    The newly-formed Crookston Visitors Bureau (CVB) is on its way at becoming its own entity having completed almost all of the necessary steps requested by the City of Crookston to form their nonprofit and take over marketing efforts from the collected lodging tax. The new CVB has also selected its initial board members coming from local establishments in retail, restaurant, and hotels, and, later, after their members are approved by the City Council, two appointed council members will join the board.

    Ex-officios from various businesses and organizations who have vested interests in tourism and overnight stays have also been selected. Those representatives come from the University of Minnesota Crookston, Crookston School District, Downtown Crookston Development Partnership, Crookston Youth Basketball Association, Crookston Blue Line Club, and local service clubs.

    New CVB co-founder Laurie Stahlecker, who is also the owner of the Crookston Inn & Convention Center, told the Times that their group has received their Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), has completed their Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation, submitted their nonprofit corporation filing with the Minnesota Secretary of State, and awaits financial records from the City to complete their last step in the process.

    “We’re getting really excited to move forward with the new CVB’s marketing plan and, once the pandemic is under control and our community can get back to hosting events, we can concentrate on bringing people to Crookston,” Stahlecker explained.

    Stahlecker says the new CVB will follow the “heads on beds” mission to create overnight stays and the organization plans to offer grants to events, display specials from retail and restaurants, focus on supporting sports tournaments and market the community in various ways to other cities and states.

    “I think a lot of organizations in the community have the same goal, bringing people to Crookston, and we want to push our efforts in a way that will benefit our lodging facilities, bars and restaurants, retail, and encourage people to seek out our amenities and attractions, and, of course, our events,” Stahlecker continued.

    She added that the new CVB has been in contact with various other Minnesota CVBs plus representatives from Explore Minnesota to seek advice and exchange ideas on best marketing their communities.

    Note: The CVB began its journey of separation from the Crookston Chamber of Commerce in early spring 2020 citing financial discrepancies and lack of proper marketing for overnight stays. The Chamber board of directors ultimately submitted a request to terminate the agreement, which had been in place since 2000, between the Chamber and City for the CVB in May and the City Council approved the termination in July. Several options were presented to the Council of where the best “umbrella” might be for the CVB to be housed including Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority and the City itself with the final decision being that the City would oversee the CVB until it could create its own entity.