Free Technical Training for Local Businesses

Is your Pine City area business listed online for Google Search?

Can your business be found on Google Maps?

OntheMaplogoIf not, you may be missing potential customers or not have all the business traffic you could have.  Current statistics on Internet usage show that presently 97% of consumers look online for goods or services, and most are using Google Search or Google Maps.  However, nationally only 37% of businesses have ‘claimed’ their listing on a search engine – a process which involves working with the search engine company to validate your business and to gain access to own and change or upgrade the results people see when your business pops up during a search.

A local partnership in Pine City is working to improve the results for all businesses in Pine City and to improve how local businesses appear when people – particularly visitors – search here for goods and services.  The Pine City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Pine County Office of Economic Development (PCOED) are spearheading a project this summer to provide one-on-one technical assistance to local businesses with that goal of improvement in mind.

The project, using grant funding from the Greater Pine Area Endowment, will use a combination of paid technical expertise and volunteers to reach out to area companies, go to their places of business, and walk them through the process of claiming, validating and upgrading their results in Google and Google Maps – at no cost to the business.

“We scanned search results for our member businesses in the Chamber,” says Chamber Executive Becky Schueller.  “We found that, out of 215 members in the Chamber, only 70 businesses had claimed their listing on Google Search and Maps.  59 more showed up on a search but had not claimed their listing.  The rest couldn’t be found at all. So two-thirds of our members either have no presence or perhaps incomplete and inaccurate information.”

While the summer project is not limited the Chamber members, Schueller feels that the same percentages apply to non-members as well.

Pine County Economic Development Coordinator Robert Musgrove dug into some of the inaccuracies and incompleteness on those businesses that did have a listing but hadn’t claimed it.

“We had a convenience store listed as an auto repair shop,” Musgrove explains.  “We had retail stores showing up on the wrong side of town on Maps.  Many didn’t list their hours of operation. These are the kinds of problems you see when a business hasn’t claimed their listing.”

Musgrove noted that search engines also aren’t used just by visitors to find restaurants or hotels.

“They’re searching for auto body shops and medical clinics and pharmacies and local attractions and attorneys – you name it,” he stated.

Beginning in early July, the partners will be reaching out to area businesses to schedule sessions with the technical expert when they can set up a listing or claim and correct a faulty one.  The only limitation is that, because of the conditions of funding from the Greater Pine Area Endowment, the business must be located within the boundaries of the Pine City school district.  The project will begin in early July and last into the Fall.

To begin with, an online signup sheet for technical assistance is available at http://tinyurl.com/GYBOPineCity  businesses that want to jump right in.  Businesses who want the service may also contact the Chamber Office – even if they are not members – at info@pinecitychamber or at 320-322-4040 or by contacting the Pine County Office of Economic Development at 320-591-1625 or robert.musgrove@co.pine.mn.us.

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Network 2 Learn Training Session Offered by Pine City Chamber

On Wednesday, May 18th the Pine City Area Chamber will host the next Network 2 Learn opportunity.  These training events are provided at a low cost to any business in the region interested in taking part in the event.  This month’s session will focus on “Uncovering Your Business Challenges” and help owners and managers to navigate the growth of their company with successful outcomes.   Contact Becky to get registered by Monday, May 16.05.18BusinessGrowth

Pine Technical & Community College now offers MMSC training courses

PINE CITY, Minn. – Motorcyclists, or those looking to get their motorcycle endorsement, have a new training site to go to for Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center rider courses. Pine Technical and Community College in Pine City, Minn. started offering the Basic Rider Course, Intermediate Rider Course and Moped Rider Training this season.

Last year, 61 motorcyclists were killed in 57 crashes on Minnesota roads, according to preliminary reports. That’s up from 46 fatalities in 2014. Thirty-three of those crashes were single-vehicle, involving only the motorcycle. All of these crashes are preventable.

Training is vital to motorcycle safety. The Basic Rider Course helps riders with no experience learn essential motorcycle control skills and earn their motorcycle license. The Intermediate Rider Course helps riders build upon their existing skills and help turn them into better riders. Courses start running in May.

Why take the Basic Rider Course?

  • Riders can get a license and learn essential motorcycle control skills in one course.
  • It’s designed for beginning riders with no previous riding experience and helps returning riders.
  • It’s thorough: Riders spend 4.5 hours learning motorcycle basics in the classroom and 10 hours practicing and mastering basic rider techniques on the range.

Why take the Intermediate Rider Course?

  • It covers skills crucial to safety: Control, finesse, counter steering, cornering, swerving and braking.
  • It’s affordable: The course is $55 for five hours of riding time.
  • Practice makes perfect: This is a great opportunity to tune up your skills early on in the riding season.
  • It opens the door for more advanced courses: After you master the Intermediate Rider Course, the MN Advanced and Expert Rider Courses are next on the list. These courses will turn you into an expert rider, using the same techniques designed to train and keep police motor officers safe in any riding or traffic situation.

How do Riders sign up?

New options for online learning available with PTCC

PINE CITY, Minn. – Pine Technical & Community College has a new program that makes it easy for businesses to provide high-quality training for their employees—no matter how many employees they have or where they’re located. Pine Technical & Community College has partnered with ed2go to offer hundreds of online, instructor-facilitated employee training courses.

Through well-crafted lessons, expert online instruction and interaction with fellow students, employees gain valuable knowledge they can immediately apply on the job. They’ll have the flexibility to study at their own pace combined with enough structure and support to complete the course. And they’ll be able to access the classroom 24/7 from anywhere with an Internet connection.

New sessions of each course run every month. They last six weeks, with two new lessons being released weekly, for a total of 12 lessons. The courses are entirely web-based with comprehensive lessons, quizzes and assignments. A dedicated professional instructor facilitates every course; pacing learners, answering questions, giving feedback and facilitating discussions.

Pine Technical & Community College and ed2go host the entire operation. That means participating businesses don’t have to hassle with purchasing, integrating, administering or supporting the technology. They can reap the rewards of this unique online training tool without any behind-the-scenes headaches.

These courses are thoroughly market tested with more than a million learners having taken one. Pine Technical & Community College is pleased to offer this catalog of courses, which provides the most convenient, affordable and accessible employee training available anywhere.

Interested businesses can begin offering these exceptional courses right away. To learn more, call Pine Technical & Community College at 320-629-5176 or visit them online at http://pine.edu/departments/continuing-education-and-customized-training/ed2go.

Plethora of choice for your Pine City weekend!

Friday, Oct. 4

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 3 p.m. – Dusk, 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Old Highway 61 – An Evening to Remember
        • 4 – 6 p.m., Pine Technical College, 900 4th Street SE – Tour virtual Old Highway 61, and see what it has to offer, and hear from MPR’s Cathy Wurzer, author of “Tales from the Road Highway 61”.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 6 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – The Highway 61 Film Festival is a three-day celebration of the magic of movies that was established in 2011 as a means of supporting and promoting independent films and filmmakers from all along Highway 61, and beyond.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    Collections of photographs from area photographers will be shown in a unique way:  “Photos on Buildings” exhibits the talent of photographers by projecting photos onto the backside of Pine Plaza.
            • Pine City Dragons Football Homecoming
              • Tailgate 5 p.m. – 6:45 p.m., east of 7th Grade Commons Area, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. –From 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., enjoy an outdoor BBQ, door prizes, music, and an appearance by the PCHS pep band.  Rain site:  7th Grade Commons.
              • Kick-off at 7 p.m., Saunder’s Field, Pine City High School, 1400 Main Street S. – Wear your Kelly Green and White and cheer on your Dragons (1-4) under the Friday night lights as they take on Crosby-Ironton (2-3). 
              • Late-Night Film Session
                • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – A fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Saturday, Oct. 5

  • Farmers’ Market in the Park
    • 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Robinson Park, town square – Enjoy it homegrown and handmade!
    • PTO Fall Carnival
      • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Pine City Elementary School, 700 6th Avenue SW – The Pine Dragons Parent-Teacher Organization will host their annual Fall Carnival, featuring food, prizes, games, crazy hair, a bounce house and more!
      • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
        • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
        • Highway 61 Film Festival
          • 1 p.m., various show times, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – Day two of the festival brings a great variety of films to the community.  The Film Festival Board is made up of a group of passionate film enthusiasts and artists that have worked to create an outlet for emerging new voices and ideas.  
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.   Yet another reason people will find Pine City to be an exceptional arts destination.
            • Late-Night Film Session
              • 10:30 p.m., Danny C’s BeachRocks Supper Club, 10762 Lakeview Shore Dr – Another fun-filled evening of an eclectic mix of movies not for the weak of heart!

Sunday, Oct. 6

  • Lions Spaghetti Dinner
    • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., American Legion Post No. 51, 525 Main Street N. – The community is invited to a spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Pine City Lions.  A freewill offering will be taken at the door and proceeds will benefit the Pine Community Food Shelf among other local projects.
    • Peaceful Pines Pumpkin Patch
      • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., 13650 Government Road – Acres of pick your own pumpkins.   Pick your own $4 each; pre-picked and priced pumpkins too.  Apples, gourds, Indian corn, broom corn, corn stalks, displays and decorations for photos opportunities.
      • Highway 61 Film Festival
        • Noon, Pine Technical College Auditorium, 900 4th Street SE – For the final day of the festival, there will be a special presentation with films selected by Pine City native and Twin Cities film legend Al Milgrom. 
        • A Place for You Benefit Concert
          • 2 p.m., The Light House, 1045 Main Street S. – A benefit concert for “A Place for You” transitional shelter.   Music and fellowship featuring local church musicians.  Cost is $10.00.
          • Photos on Buildings
            • Dusk, back of Pine Plaza, along 4th Street SE.    The final night of Photos on Buildings 2013, exhibiting the talent of area photographers.
            • Citizen of the Year Reception
              • 4 – 5:30 p.m., North West Company Fur Post, 12551 Voyageur Lane – The 2013 Citizen of the Year is Harvey Lindstrom, a longtime city employee and an avid community volunteer.  

Business Resource Directory

The Central MN Workforce Investment Board has recently released a directory of services and resources for small businesses. The directory which was just released this past January, it covers an 11 county region including Pine County. The resource is described as “A guide to economic development, finance, education, workforce development and government resources in Central Minnesota.”

To access the directory click here or visit their website at www.cmjts.org

Solidifying Communities through Sustainability

Mn Green Step Cities is a program dedicating to creating sustainable communities across the state. The program was designed as a collaborative effort of six state agencies.  There will be an informational meeting on Tuesday, March 20th 5-6pm at the Pine City Public Library Community Room for interested individuals.

The Green Steps program creates a framework that  organizes sistainable action steps into five ‘best practices’. These best practices are grouped into major categories such a commuunity development, transportation, land use, building and lighting, and environmental management.  The program,  while samiliar to other environmental efforts, really focuses on community based initiatives by strengthening Cities from the inside out. It uses the strengths that Pine City already has and puts them into a workable framework.

Anyone interested in learning about this program is encouraged to attend the meeting next tuesday. For more information or questions, contact Lauren Ellmers, (lellmers@pinecitygov.com, 320-629-25785) or check out Green Steps Website!

Facts about the Pine Innovation Center

The Pine Entrepreneurship Center and Technology Business Incubator, now shortened to the “Pine Innovation Center” is set to open some time in 2012.  Some may ask, what is an incubator?  Do they work?  Here is a run-down of info so you’ll be in the know…

What is an incubator?

Business incubators nurture the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the start-up and expansion periods, when they are most vulnerable. These programs provide their client companies with business support services and resources tailored to young and growing firms.

The most common goals of incubation programs are creating jobs in a community, enhancing a community’s entrepreneurial climate, retaining businesses in a community, building or accelerating growth in a local industry, and diversifying local economies.  Incubators are a combination of a physical facility and the services provided.  Often, the rent is reduced for the first 1-3 years of occupancy for a business locating in an incubator, and the services initially are either free or at a reduced price.  There are over 1,400 incubators in North America, and the strategy originated in the late 1970’s.

Do they work?

  • The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) estimates that, in 2005 alone, North American incubators assisted more than 27,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for more than 100,000 workers and generated annual revenue of more than $17 billion.
  • Business incubators reduce the risk of small business failures. Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business.
  • NBIA members have reported that 84 percent of incubator graduates stay in their communities.
  • A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects such as industrial parks.  The U.S. Economic Development Administration rates incubators as their most effective investment in terms of job creation.

What is the Pine incubator?

  • 7,800 square feet of new, open,  and adaptable space designed to house advanced technology manufacturing companies.
  • Designed to house up to three companies at a time, with two interior office spaces for incubator occupants along with the open light industrial advanced technology floor.
  • Connected to Pine Technical College Customized Training and Continuing Education (CE/CT) offices (in the former East Central Energy building to be remodeled).
  • Located at the corner of Hillside and Main Street to create a compelling entrance experience.
  • Targeted at advanced technology companies providing high wage jobs.
  • Integrated with Pine Technical College to provide students with internships and to provide incubator occupants with access to faculty expertise in a number of disciplines.
  • Connected to PTC CE/CT for management and for access to customized training for employees.
  • Connected to the Pine City fiber optic backbone for high-speed internet.
  • To be served by a network of local professionals for advice and guidance in accounting, legal services, financial expertise, marketing assistance, and other services at free or reduced costs.

What are the benefits for the region?

  • Creating high-wage jobs for area citizens.
  • Attracting technology-based companies to locate in area industrial parks after incubation.
  • Strengthening the commercial/industrial tax base.

GPS 45:93 looks back, plans its future

With the belief that strategic planning for regional economic development is critical, members of GPS 45:93 set out to do just that on Sept. 23 around a large table in the Isanti County Courthouse in Cambridge, Minn. 

GPS 45:93 is a regional coalition working to promote dialogue and collaboration among the region’s public and private agencies in an effort to foster economic development.  Its location, four counties in east central Minnesota (Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec) places it within two hours of over 80-percent of the state’s population.

The organization’s need to plan was fueled by some regional factors that have come to be, including a higher-than-the-state-average unemployment and poverty rates, and lower-than-the-state-average diversity and educational attainment rates, as well as regional dependence on state aid, decreasing property values, and lack of venture and other sources of capital, among others.

The strategic planning process outlined those perceived weaknesses as well as the regions’ strengths and competitive advantages:  growth, quality of life, available—and affordable—land and workforce, natural amenities, existing regional collaboration, a history of successes, and a strong manufacturing base, among others.

The Initiative Foundation’s Dan Frank and Sandy Voigt were on-hand to facilitate the meeting.  Frank is the program manager for community development and Voigt is the business development specialist at the foundation.

They suggested that the group look beyond the region’s characteristics and look internally, into the organization of GPS 45:39, now in existence in its twelfth year, though first as Northern Technology Initiative.  The organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats became apparent and were discussed.

“Though we have a credible history, what does GPS 45:93 mean outside of the organization?” asked Sam Griffith, city administrator of Sandstone, Minn.  “There exists a lack of awareness.  What does our name say about us?”

Some of the goals that came out of the session included focusing more on economic development and marketing, and less on workforce development and organizational development. 

“Workforce development is being done elsewhere, in other agencies,” said Sara Trieber, current president of GPS 45:93 and a staffer for the Corporate Commission of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.  “And, we’ve already established our organization.  It’s no longer in development stage,” she added.

Now, GPS 45:93 can turn its energies to economic gardening, economic strategy and the like.  It has already completed business retention and expansion visits in its respective communities, as well as a network of ‘go-to’ people in each community.

Now that the group has a new name and identity, and all that goes along with that—a logo, tagline, Web site, etc.—it can create and implement a marketing plan. 

“We’ve come a long ways in a relatively short time,” said member Dr. Robert Musgrove, president of Pine Technical College, adding, “And, we realize we have a bright future if we are all working together.  We are of the philosophy that if one wins, all win.”

The tagline for GPS 45:93 is, “Your point of opportunity”.  Its precise coordinates, 45-degrees North (latitude) and 93-degrees West (longitude), when extended to their full six digits, lead to a point on the map near where four partner counties—Pine, Isanti, Chisago and Kanabec—touch.  Abbreviated, it leads to a simpler URL for its website, http://www.gps4593.com.  There, one can find useful links, testimonials, and information on the members of the consortium.

Highway 61 Film Festival rolls in Oct. 14-15

Movie lovers from all over Minnesota are getting ready to settle down to a feast of films this weekend at the first ever Highway 61 Film Festival in Pine City.
 
The festival will feature comedies, action, horror, drama, documentary and animation in 39 short and feature-length movies over Oct. 14-15. 
 
Doors open at the Pine Technical College Auditorium (900 4th Street SE) at 6 p.m. Friday for the first session of films, with a late-night session to follow at Danny C’s BeachRocks (10762 Lakeview Shore Drive) at 10 p.m.
 
On Saturday morning at 11 a.m., another session of films begins with a family-friendly selection of movies for young and old at Pine Technical College. 
 
Saturday goes back to the grown-ups at the 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. film sessions, and the night will be capped off with a horror double-feature and celebration at Danny C’s BeachRocks starting at 10 p.m.
Tickets for each daytime session of films at Pine Technical College are only $5, while there is free (donation requested) admission to the late-night shows at Danny C’s BeachRocks. All funds go to the nonprofit Pine Center for the Arts.
 
Each session of films promises its own highlights. Some of these include: 
 
  • Friday night’s 6:30 p.m. session includes a film by Shane Bauer, one of the American hikers who was recently released from Iran after two years in captivity. “Songs to Enemies and Deserts” was co-directed by Bauer and David Martinez. A special message from Bauer’s mother, Pine City native Cindy Hickey, will be read before the film. 
  • Friday’s late-night session at Danny C’s BeachRocks will feature “All Over the Walls,” a documentary featured at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival. The short film “Night Surf” won directing and screenwriting honors at the MCTC Excellence Awards.
  • On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. the session includes a variety of intriguing dramas and comedies capped off by “Lambent Fuse,” the winner of the 2011 Twin Cities Film Fest for Best Minnesota Feature. 
  • On Saturday at 6:30 p.m., a series of exciting thrillers and hilarious comedies will come to an end with “Ghost from the Machine,” a psychological horror film which was recently picked up by Universal Studios to be remade into a major motion picture. 
  • Saturday’s late-night session at Danny C’s BeachRocks is a horror double-feature including “Attack of the Moon Zombies” by legendary Minnesota director Christopher R. Mihm and the horror/comedy freak-out “Potpourri.” 
For a full listing of films and their descriptions go to www.highway61filmfestival.org or visit the Highway 61 Film Festival Facebook page. 
 
Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, drivers and pedestrians will see the walls of Pine City come to life with photos projected by local photographers in “Pictures on Buildings.”
Come to one film session, or come to all – but don’t miss the Highway 61 Film Festival!
 
Read on to see more about the program and the films that will be shown.