Long Prairie EDA Welcomes New Board Members
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
The Long Prairie Economic Development Authority board of directors consists of a diverse group of individuals, each of whom bring a unique set of values and backgrounds to the collective. Our members come from all walks of life, with various degrees of education, training and work/life experience. While some of our board members have previous and/or current experience serving on boards and others have no experience, they all share a common desire to serve their community, and to willingly contribute to and participate in the economic growth of Long Prairie. Our board members are: Lauren Hebert, David Wright, Dallas Nelson, Robert “Bob” Klick, Terri Jo Peery, Mary Schmidt, and EDA director Luan Thomas-Brunkhorst.
We’d like to take a moment to introduce our members and help you learn a little bit more about them and how they hope to contribute to the success of Long Prairie!
Mary Schmidt: Mary is a professional educator with teaching experience in Early Childhood through Adult Education. She currently works as a Parent Educator in the ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) program through the Freshwater School District.
She is active on other boards in the community, such as St. Mary’s Church, the LPGE Community Advisory Council, and the CentraCare Health Board. Mary joined the Long Prairie Economic Development Authority board “to see and be a part of change, improvement and growth.” As a long-time resident she has seen changes and growth in the community and proudly welcomes the new ethnic groups coming to Long Prairie.
“I think there is plenty for us to do to improve and grow this community” says Mary as a new member of the EDA board. “It's a challenge and an opportunity to make Long Prairie a community that we can all be proud of moving forward. I am a "visual" person so I am most interested in doing things that appeal to improving what people "see" when they come here.”
Dallas Nelson:This is the first board that Dallas has served on. “I would like to see at least one new business or improvement to something major at least once per year,” says Dallas. “If we can do more, that would be great!” As a local manager in Long Prairie, he believes his leadership abilities can be a great asset to the board. “I have built very good customer relationships which in turn could be portrayed in the community.”
Dallas grew up in a large city but has found a home here in Long Prairie. “I am proud of the people here because they are not afraid to stand up for their beliefs and speak up for what they want,” says the new board member. He hopes he can bring some good ideas to the table and believes that public involvement is crucial. “I feel we should be talking to the general public to gain ideas on how to proceed so we can gain a bigger picture.” Dallas is excited to see how much Long Prairie can grow in the future.
Robert “Bob” Klick: Bob Klick has the most civic experience of the board members. Mr. Klick is a retired educator in the Freshwater Education District, where he taught Auto Mechanics, Welding, Small Motors and Ag. Mechanics for 21 years at Long Prairie Grey Eagle High School.
He has served on the Long Prairie City Council for twelve-plus years, has over 25 years on the Planning and Zoning committee, and has worked as a council representative to the Public Works, Planning and Zoning, the EDA board, and the Park Board. In addition, Bob has considerable volunteer experience with local organizations, such as his church (St. Mary’s), the School Foundation Board, Knights of Columbus, Todd County Historical Society, Todd County Agricultural Society, Long Prairie Ambulance Service (40 years) and the LPGE Building Committee.
Bob believes because of his Long Prairie roots he is able to bring a unique perspective to the ADC board. “Living your entire life in a community leaves people with a secure feeling and the comradery of trust in the way you’ll listen and represent them. Even when I was off Council for a while many of the locals would inquire about what was happening within the City,” says Klick.
Based on his previous civic experience, Bob has a wealth of historic knowledge to share. “In the past when on the board the structure of EDA was different,” he says. “We were working on starting a new Industrial Park, learning of the businesses interested in moving to or starting in the community, improving communications with the businesses to utilize assets we have in the area, and trying to find a fit when needed. Our major Industries in the area are what we refer to as ‘wet’ with high sewer and water usage. We need to find/ look for less demanding types of clients in the future.”
Klick sees many strengths in Long Prairie that can be used to recruit groups to locate in the community following a well-conceived plan. “To me, progressing does not have to be overnight and doing things too fast causes problems. Hopefully, we can stay progressive, prosperous, moving forward to keep Long Prairie growing and an area people want to live.”
Lauren Hebert:Lauren is another first-time board member. He has a background as a high school and post-secondary History and Social Sciences teacher and currently works as a health insurance broker. “I’m good at accessing information and translating it into something that is more understandable,” says Hebert.
“I would like the EDA to become a “sounding board” and idea generator for how to move the community forward,” replied Lauren, when asked about his goals and aspirations for the EDA. “We’re on a good path with some new organization and a stable membership. Now, we need to focus on some ideas and figure out how to make them happen.”
Terri Jo Peery:Terri Jo is another board member with plenty of long-time community involvement. She worked for 26 years at Banta Printing until the plant closed. Currently, she splits her work life assisting Lake and Home magazine with print and advertising sales, and as a Customer Service representative for Enterprise-CP. Her prior board experience includes time on the Together We Can Steering Committee, the CentraCare-Long Prairie Hospital Board and Foundation Board, and currently is on the board of the Community Growth Fund VP, and is a member of the School District Advisory Committee.
Ms. Peery is an avid booster of Long Prairie and looks at being an EDA board member as an opportunity to use her personal skills to help bring the strengths of the community to the forefront of involvement. “I work hard at being inclusive and approachable in the community. If I know of a new effort or community project that would really benefit an individual, I seek them out or mention it to the person if I see them. If there is a project that needs the skills of someone I know, I'll make the time to ask if they would be interested or available to work with that team.”
Through active listening and participation in special work groups, she aspires to “continue to bring more businesses into our community, find more ways to let folks know that Long Prairie is a great place to live and "Work remotely," and find out what we can do to build on this new opportunity for rural Minnesota.
In her role as an EDA board member, Terri Jo is determined to “find new and different ways to get our message out that Long Prairie is a great place to work/play/live. Our new websites are awesome and we can build on that momentum. We also need to look around at neighboring communities and learn from their successes.” She looks ahead to working on projects like the bike trail, the splash pad, trees and benches in Harmony Park and the Jaycee Mall renovation. “I'm really looking forward to what we can get accomplished!”
Luan Thomas-Brunkhorst:Currently serving as the assistant Economic Development Authority (EDA) director, Luan began working for the EDA in April 2019. She divides her work time equally between the EDA and the Chamber of Commerce.
Early in her college and post-college career, Luan obtained a bachelor’s degree in Art History, German and Education from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. She also received her masters in German from Middlebury College in Vermont. “I spent about seven years in Germany traveling and teaching English,” says Thomas-Brunkhorst. “My husband and I have done two cross country bicycle tours for about a year in Mexico and in the southern part of the United States. I speak German and Spanish (novice). I taught German at the high school in Long Prairie for fifteen years before becoming the Chamber of Commerce director.” She has been the Chamber director for the past six years.
Luan’s service on various boards gives her a broad range of local knowledge and experience. Her activity includes the roles of secretary, president and board member at the local food coop in town for six years; she was a substitute for her husband in the Rotary Club for three years; Luan is on the Camphill Village, Minnesota board. “I have been a board member, secretary, president and vice president in the past fifteen years,” adds Thomas-Brunkhorst. “I have been on the Long Prairie Chamber Orchestra board for about ten years. I organize volunteers, the refreshments and marketing/publicity,” adds the music lover.
Long Prairie’s small-town atmosphere keeps her rooted in Long Prairie; its rural surroundings, the Long Prairie River, and the safe community. “I love Long Prairie,” says Thomas-Brunkhorst. “I feel good here, and I want it to thrive. I am not afraid of change; I have no fear of learning about what I don’t know. I want to support business and the livability of the community.”
Thomas-Brunkhorst wants the EDA to be a known entity within the community, and she wants the community to know how the EDA can serve them. “I want people to feel welcome here and want to work, live, play and retire here.” That means employment opportunities, workforce, daycare, housing and recreational outlets in order to keep residents and businesses. Once the City is financially capable, hiring a full-time professional EDA director would be a practical goal. There are also a few large vacant buildings on Central Ave that I would love the City to purchase, renovate and sell again or use for the community.” Thomas-Brunkhorst has plans and dreams for Long Prairie. In the meanwhile...
Her connections to her community are her strongest asset, says the enthusiastic community development specialist. “I have lived in Long Prairie for over 20 years. I taught for fifteen years. I know people; students, parents, grandparents, relatives and friends. I am active; I volunteer all the time. I network and connect well,” says Thomas-Brunkhorst. “I am resourceful. Community members call me and ask what, where, why, when and how questions all the time. I love socializing, getting to know people, hearing their story and welcoming them.”
With that, we extend a welcome to our board members and thanks for sharing your thoughts and background. We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of board member David Wright. The Long Prairie Economic Development Authority looks forward to serving the people and businesses of Long Prairie, making our community the best place it can be for everyone. Welcome aboard!