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GreenStep City Best Practices Resilient Economic & Community Development

Green Business Development
no. 25

Expand a greener, more resilient business sector.
  Best Practice Action 3      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ]       [all actions]

Promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.

  • The Green Hotels Association provides practical information and qualified vendors for helping lodging owners to green their operations.
  • See two 2016 reports from Explore MN on the state of green tourism in Minnesota.
  • Green Routes, a triple bottom line tourism initiative of St. Paul-based Renewing the Countryside.
  • Home sharing — by renting a room, informally or via Airbnb, to a traveler or short-term tenant — can be a powerful and profitable option for aging in place. The definition of a short term rental varies by city since each chooses to regulate (or not) differently. Concerns include potential loss of affordable housing, safety and neighborhood quality-of-life issues. See Short Term Rental Zoning Study and Proposed Zoning Code Amendments (St. Paul: 2017) that summarizes the regulatory stances of Eagan, Burnsville, Duluth, and Prior Lake.
Identify how area tourism is featuring green aspects/beautification of the area/their business, and/or how the city has contacted businesses (and how many) about making internal green changes within their business.
Create or participate in an ongoing green tourism initiative; facilitate follow-up with at least 5 businesses to assist them/arrange for assistance to them in greening their business.
Document the financial and environmental outcomes from these green tourism efforts on your city web site. Report any green tourism business certifications earned in action 25.6.


Date action report first entered:   04/27/2016
Date of last report update:   04/27/2016

Implementation details:
Hastings is a designated Bike City and the addition of the Zagster bike rentals helps to promote green tourism in our city.

For more information contact:
Melanie Mesko-Lee (City staff)   |   mmesko_lee@hastingsmn.gov   |   651-480-2326

View All Hastings Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   12/29/2014
Date of last report update:   12/29/2014

Implementation details:
The City of Elk River is known as "Energy City," a designation given by the state of Minnesota in 1996 to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy and act as a demonstration site for the state. As a part of this, city and Elk River Municipal Utilities staff host on average 20 tours a year to students, organizations, businesses, politicians, and even international participants. The tours include area businesses, power plants, etc.

Outcome measures/metrics:
In 2014 alone, over 500 participants took part in Energy City Tours.

Descriptive links: http://elkrivermn.gov/Index.aspx?NID=739

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

Elk River Municipal Utilities

View All Elk River Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/28/2016
Date of last report update:   04/28/2016

Implementation details:
The City promotes outdoor based tourism. The City promotes itself as the "Gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area."

Descriptive links: http://www.ely.org/

For more information contact:
Harold Langowski (City staff)   |   elyod@ely.mn.us   |   218-226-5474

View All Ely Actions

Grand Marais

Date action report first entered:   11/04/2015
Date of last report update:   11/04/2015

Implementation details:
Grand Marais has a variety of low-impact and green tourism businesses, including eco-tourism. Examples include canoe outfitters, fishing and backwoods guides, other quiet sports. Cook County Visitor Bureau promotes tourism generally, including the green tourism businesses. Grand Marais has a wide variety of businesses that sell locally produced goods and promote local entrepreneurs. Artisan goods, local food, tourism economy is heavily locally focused.

Descriptive links: http://www.visitcookcounty.com/things-to-do/shopping/

For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor)   |   shane.w.steele@gmail.com   |   507-884-5790

View All Grand Marais Actions

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2015
Date of last report update:   04/16/2015

Implementation details:
There is a "Green Routes" brochure that promotes resources to green tourism and hospitality businesses from Star Island to Deer River.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/15/2019
Date of last report update:   04/15/2019
Year action initially completed:   2011
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
Morris's Tourism website promotes the various green attractions in the city of Morris, including the Morris Wetland Management District, the US Department of Agriculture Research Center, the University of Minnesota-Morris Campus, Pomme De Terre Park, and the Horticulture Display Garden. Morris's Tourism Board is currently soliciting proposals for agricultural and green tourism advertising campaigns.

Descriptive links: http://morrismntourism.com/

For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff)   |   bhill@ci.morris.mn.us   |   320-589-3141

Morris Tourism Board

View All Morris Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/17/2015
Date of last report update:   04/24/2015

Implementation details:
The City of Victoria has an intense trail system that bring the user to the CBD where there is limited parking space for vehicles but many spots for bicycles to be parked. The Victoria Business Association donates a portion of its event proceeds to the City of Victoria’s Park and Recreation Scholarship fund. This is a great way to get people to come to the CBD, while promoting a healthy lifestyle. GoCarverGo is a green initiative to promote the use of trails and parks in Carver County. You can plan a trip via bike or walking, rollerblading, etc, on the website. It is a useful tool. The Victoria Recreation Center offers health discounts through Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota and ND / Ucare and Health Partners, Preferred One and Silver & Fit. The biking/running trails connect Downtown Victoria all the way to Minneapolis. This way, people who live a greener lifestyle have the option to travel via trails to the city.

Descriptive links: http://gis.co.carver.mn.us/Trip/

For more information contact:
Paul Moretto (City staff)   |   pmoretto@ci.victoria.mn.us   |   952-443-4210

Victoria Business Associaton; Blue Cross; UCARE; Healthpartners; Preferred One; Silver & Fit

View All Victoria Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2018
Date of last report update:   05/01/2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau has a website that promotes a number of outdoor activities and attractions within Bloomington. Additionally, the Mall of America includes outdoor activities and attractions surrounding the mall in their visitors guide. http://www.bloomingtonmoavisitorsguide.com/bloomingtonmoavisitorsguide/2018?pg=1#pg1 Explore Minnesota has a search function that offers multiple categories so tourists can find a variety of activities, and the website includes an option for attractions that are accessible to visitors with special considerations. http://www.exploreminnesota.com/index.aspx All sites promote public transportation such as light rail, buses, and shared rides as methods of getting around town.

Descriptive links: https://www.bloomingtonmn.org/things-to-do/activities-attractions?location=Bloomington&filter=&sort=#

For more information contact:
Steve Gurney (City staff)   |   sgurney@BloomingtonMN.gov   |   952-563-4606

Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau; Mall of America; Explore Minnesota

View All Bloomington Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/26/2014
Date of last report update:   06/04/2014

Implementation details:
The City of Duluth promotes the St. Louis River Corridor which is the world’s largest freshwater estuary. Efforts include enhancing trails connectivity, walkability. The Duluth Mayor has successfully sought reinactment of the 1/2% tourism tax to fund future development and enhancements to the the St. Louis River corridor. Businesses in the western district have rallied around the initiative to make the west area a destination for recreational activiities and commerce.

For more information contact:
Alex Jackson, Energy Coordinator (City staff)   |   ajackson@DuluthMN.gov   |   218-730-4433

View All Duluth Actions

Fergus Falls

Date action report first entered:   01/14/2016
Date of last report update:   01/14/2016

Implementation details:
Fit City running trails are mapped per mile.

For more information contact:
Len Taylor (City staff)   |   len.taylor@ci.fergus-falls.mn.us   |   218-332-5418

View All Fergus Falls Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/19/2017
Date of last report update:   04/19/2017
Year action initially completed:   2015
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
A partner organization, Explore Jordan, has maps of all parks the City’s multi-use trails for visitors to find and enjoy. Explore Jordan has designed an historic walking tour, which gives tourists a detailed tour, building-by-building, of Jordan’s History. The city has continually invested in park space, specifically in Veteran's Park and Lagoon Park, abutting the downtown area. This includes winning a MN DNR grant to install a Fishing Pier in Lagoon Park - offering plentiful recreation opportunities and green-space proximate to Jordan’s downtown businesses and attractions The city redesigned and reconstructed its downtown infrastructure in 2014/15 by widening sidewalks, adding curb bump-outs, adding bike lanes, and installing street trees - calming traffic and providing friendlier space for Jordan’s visitors and residents.

Outcome measures/metrics:
The success of downtown business will be used as a metric to judge the city’s effectiveness in supporting local recreation opportunities.

Descriptive links: http://www.explorejordanmn.com/

For more information contact:
Lauren Walburg (City staff)   |   lwalburg@jordanmn.gov   |   952-492-7928

Explore Jordan; Jordan Chamber of Commerce

View All Jordan Actions


Date action report first entered:   03/01/2013
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
In 2012 many improvements were made to the parking lot at the Maplewood Mall with the goal of better stormwater filtration and pollutant management. The construction was completed last summer and the Mall now offers tours of their facility to spotlight the new sustainable upgrades to the location. The city of Maplewood, in partner with the Maplewood Mall management team, believe that the mall can be used as a training tool for sustainability in large business development areas. During summer months, the Maplewood Nature Center promotes and organizes tours of the many local community gardens in the city as well as providing tours and other activities for all visitors to the center.

For more information contact:
Shann Finwall (City staff)   |   shann.finwall@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2304

View All Maplewood Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/24/2013

Implementation details:
Cascade Meadows is a new wetland demonstration and environmental awareness complex with LEED Platinum certification. RPU is a sponsor and collaborated in several elements of the facility, including water management, solar and wind power generation, and energy efficiency improvements. RPU promotes and encourages visitors, businesses, and citizens to tour this facility to become educated on emerging green technologies that can be applied to new and renovated homes and other buildings. Rochester also promotes the Minnesota Bio Business center as a green education building.

For more information contact:
Tony Benson (City staff)   |   tbenson@rpu.org   |   507-280-1534

View All Rochester Actions


Date action report first entered:   07/16/2012

Implementation details:
The Willmar Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau actively promotes green tourism. At the what to do menu: there is summary of the regional trail systems. Kandiyohi County Trails Map, PWELC Trails Map, and Sibley State Park Trails Maps. Under the Tour Operators menu: The experience the Willmar Lakes Area 2 day self Tour. Provides links to local restaurants: 21 Fast Food, 13 Coffee shops, 10 pizza parlors, 32 Bar/Restaurants, 10 international Restaurants. Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, and Sibley State Park are listed as Destinations. Where to stay menu list and number of overnight options.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Tourist looking to adventure in hiking, biking, horseback riding, in-line skating, or cross country skiing have a variety of options by reviewing the local trails, and can support the Lakes Area Chamber listed restaurants and Hotels, Bed & Breakfasts, Resorts, and Campgrounds.

Descriptive links: http://www.willmarlakesarea.com/content/experience-willmar-lakes-area

For more information contact:
Sara Jacobson (City staff)   |   sjacobson@willmarmn.gov   |   320-235-4760

Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce; Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

View All Willmar Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Angie Bourdaghs, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2176, angela.bourdaghs@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/sbeap