After nearly seven years in the works, a cross-border tourism initiative between northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario is expected to launch this fall.
The Heart of the Continent Partnership signed a contract with National Geographic earlier this spring in hopes of increasing tourism here.
Committee members are asking that local business owners nominate their company as one of the region’s assets to be featured on an interactive website showcasing the area.
However, in order to be a part of the initial website launch, business owners are required to have their information submitted to the binational tourism project by this Sunday (June 15).
Eric Johnson, a board member at the Destination Voyagers National Park in International Falls, addressed the opportunity at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s general membership meeting in late May.
“They are trying to create opportunities for groups across the region to work together in a way that can benefit both the citizens and ecosystems of the boundary area,” he noted.
“We want to market our area as a whole rather than piecemealing it out as individual cities or individual communities.
“This is a way we can all work together to really promote those assets that we have not only on a national or continental level, but to a world-wide audience of people,” Johnson stressed.
He then outlined the process, noting that when the nomination portal closes June 15, National Geographic will get on board and start building the website.
“That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever take nominations ever again, but the initial phase will be over,” Johnson said.
“We will start taking more nominations down the road because just like any website is, it’s a growing, living, ongoing thing,” he explained.
“We are going to keep it fresh and new, and a good representation of the area as businesses come or new parks are created.”
Chamber manager Annely Armstrong-Thorstad also stressed the importance of getting businesses and attractions nominated online.
“This is crucial to any of the businesses in town, whether it is a festival or a company,” she remarked.
“It is a really great resource and we need to make sure that our businesses and all of our attractions are uploaded.
“For it to be free and tagged with the National Geographic name is absolutely amazing,” Armstrong-Thorstad added.
“There will be people all over the world who will see this.”
The online nomination process is designed for those responsible for a business or attraction.
Although community members are welcome to encourage businesses to take action, it has been asked that they do not fill out an application.
Traveltheheart.org is now accepting nominations.
For more information, call Armstrong-Thorstad at 274-5773.