by Jim Boyle
The Elk River City Council on Aug. 3 proclaimed the week of Aug. 23-29 as Support Together Elk River Spirit Week.
The move is the latest effort by a Together Elk River subcommittee that was established in April by the Elk River Economic Development Authority. The group’s main mission is to support the business community by promoting a sense of togetherness while living in a pandemic.
The timing of Together Elk River Spirit Week is no coincidence. After not having Elk RiverFest and missing out on the Sherburne County Fair, some committee members felt like something was needed to fill the void that will be left by the absence of the Minnesota State Fair.
Together Elk River has developed a plan to strengthen the community during this unprecedented time.
“I’m super excited to launch this (from) what has been a phenomenal partnership with the chamber,” said Jennifer Wagner, a council member and a driving force behind the initiative. “This is in (the chamber’s) wheelhouse, and they have taken a lot of the lead.”
Wagner envisions a Crazy Days kind of feel that gives people reason to move about their community.
“This is a way to support and promote the Together Elk River initiative,” she said. “Hopefully the community and businesses will grasp and support it.”
The people behind the community initiative have been working to encourage, engage and support local businesses, nonprofits and neighbors in need through the unprecedented and challenging times brought on by COVID-19. Citizens and business owners may have noticed Together Elk River stickers and placards popping up around town.
The Support Together Elk River Spirit Week will be filled with various themes to bring the community together and to support the Elk River business community.
The themes include:
— Monday: Make a Difference Day
— Tuesday: Tourist Tuesday
— Wednesday: Wear It Wednesday
— Thursday: Take-out Thursday
— Friday: Find It Friday
“Businesses are being forced to adapt daily in the ever-changing economic environment we’re currently faced with,” the proclamation stated. “The Together Elk River campaign offers an additional platform for them to gain exposure and support.”
The Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes another challenge awaits the Elk River business community when the conversion of Highway 169 from highway into a freeway starts.
Debbi Rydberg, the executive director of the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce, sees a real value in the effort, and she hopes it provides a boost to the psyche of a community that at times feels isolated or socially distant.
She says she prefers to think of social distancing requirements as physical distancing.
“People can still be connected socially in safe ways,” she said.
Rydberg envisions people connecting socially while promoting community togetherness. She says one example could be people might choose to use Tourist Tuesday to visit their favorite businesses, nonprofit or service and posting the excursion on social media with the hashtag #togetherelkriver.
“It could be families, co-workers or other groups doing this,” Rydberg said.
The chamber is assembling a list of specials and other information.