I was born and raised in Albert Lea, MN. A town surrounded by rural farming communities. You will only find a traffic jam in our great city during the Fourth of July parade which is held on the third of July rather than the fourth. You will also experience a traffic jam shortly after the fireworks which are held on the fourth of July.
Albert Lea was once home to a meat packing plant. It kept the town moving and grooving as one of the biggest employers in town. Several years ago it caught fire, and the damage was beyond repair. The company decided not to rebuild here and almost overnight the town’s population plummeted.
The downtown or uptown, depending on what your ancestors called it, was a booming happening place. I remember going to watch E.T. at the beautiful, bright, popcorn smelling, red-carpeted theater. I remember walking up and down the sidewalks holding my mom’s hand as we went into each store. On the corner was Herbergers the largest store in Albert Lea. It was the only building to ever have an escalator in town. The building is still there today, although the escalator is no longer running.
Slowly the downtown began to fade away. Along with the businesses the buildings also began to fade away. Perhaps it was the entrance of Wal-Mart into our town. Maybe it was progress or whatever you want to call it; our small town feel began to fade away.
It has been said that Albert Lea should be as big as the Twin Cities with two major Interstates intersecting on the edge of town. I am thrilled to report that our small town is once again beginning to thrive! We have long-standing businesses such as Mrs. Gerry’s, Jake’s Pizza, B&B, Elbow Room, and MCB. Companies who have been here for generations and are iconic Albert Leans.
Businesses such as:
and both Fisher’s Fine Jewelers and Stadheim Jewelers have both been around since I can remember.
We also have young entrepreneurs that are thriving, growing, and hiring within their business. These businesses have done an incredible job of helping the city brainstorm ways to breathe life back into our community. They are genuinely committed to making our town great! They sit on boards, committees and are bring positive solutions to Albert Lea.
Businesses such as:
Lindsay Kramer makes it easy for her clients to book appointments anytime. She has an easy peasy online booking. Visit her website to learn more about the massages she offers.
We also have thriving artists in our area who are making names for themselves. The Color Wheel, Meraki Studio, Kelly Gau Studio, Davinci Skillsaw, Simply Charming Ceramics, The Albert Lea Art Center, and Granicrete to name a few.
I also see companies such as Complete Property Management owned by our good friend Lanier Pratt. He is knowledgeable, committed to excellence, and is excellent at helping businesses find commercial spaces. His team also has residential rental homes available. What makes his team unique is their ability to take care of issues in-house that arise with properties. Their skilled craftsmen, plumbers, and carpenters know each of their properties from the roof to the basement floor. If you don’t see the ideal space for your endeavors, his team is skilled to create the perfect space for your business. The CPM Team has a get-the-job-done-right-the-first time mindset!
I also see Albert Lea offering classes to help entrepreneurs develop their overall business to be the best it can be! The ALEDA has developed a program called ALEAP. This non-profit organization helps individuals take their business from the dream stage to the first time the doors are opened to customers. Offering loans, collaboration, mentorship and community support.
It takes time, persistence, money, support and commitment of a community to shop locally to make a town thrive. If we want our city to grow, succeed, and to be a place we are proud to call home we have got to step up to make it such a place. It also takes stepping outside of our communities comfort zone to attempt and try new landscaping, road structures, and reorganization of the town.
I am thrilled at the growth of my beloved small town. I am proud of the young entrepreneurs who are putting themselves out there and doing the hard work of bringing awesomeness to Albert Lea. You’re doing a great job, keep it up! You have my full support!