Stillwater-area tourism study underway

            The Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Argosy University to conduct a series of economic development studies for the Greater Stillwater area, chamber officials announced.

The first study focuses on tourism and is currently underway as part of an 8-week summer course project. The second study focuses on economic development during a 15-week course project in early 2013.

The pilot tourism study, conducted by MBA Capstone students at Argosy University, will gather baseline data used to initiate a general discussion of economic development in the greater Stillwater area. The study goal is to provide an indication of the current state of the area brand that includes Stillwater, Oak Park Heights, Lake Elmo and Bayport.

This chamber project is in addition to a separate tourism study conducted by the Stillwater/Oak Park Heights Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“The purpose of this project is to serve as a pilot study for place branding the Greater Stillwater region,” said Dr. Karen Gulliver, MBA program chair at Argosy University in Eagan.

“Place branding is a special application of product branding where brand principles are applied to a country or region. Tourism isn’t the only reason for place branding.  Often, the brand is crafted around the desire to attract outside investment or to stimulate exports from the area just as much as to bring visitors into the area.”

The studies follow the lead from last year’s Community Symposium, which identified six categories of economic development opportunities, including downtown revitalization.

“We’re delighted Argosy University has chosen the greater Stillwater area to conduct a series of economic studies that will surely benefit the entire region,” said Todd Streeter, chamber executive director.

The study findings will be taken up by a new committee of downtown Stillwater business and property owners who will focus on short and long-term economic opportunities for downtown.