HJ/EDMarch 27, 2006

Howard Lake Business Assn: promoting prosperity and growth

By Jenni Sebora

Launched in 1951 as the Howard Lake Businessmen’s Association, the present Howard Lake Business Association has changed its name over the course of time, but not its mission.

That mission, which was originally formed by the association’s founding fathers, is to promote “the growth in advancement of commercial, mercantile, manufacturing, social, economic, civic, musical, athletic, and agricultural interests in Howard Lake to promote fellowship, community spirit, and support that may lead to the betterment of life in Howard Lake.”

The association and its purpose were originally formed by approximately 10 businessmen in Howard Lake who thought it was important to take care of the businesses in the community.

“It was unusual that such an association at that time was formed,” said Bonnie Seegmiller, secretary and longtime business association member. “Chambers were forming all over, but the founding fathers thought it was important to start the business association to help the local businesses in Howard Lake out.”

At the time the business association was formed, there were no females, at least in the Howard Lake area, who were members of the business community. That changed over time, and females joined the business community and association.

This may have prompted the name change to the Howard Lake Business Association in 1978, Seegmiller noted.

But the goal of the association withstood time and continues to be the promotion of the City of Howard Lake and its businesses.

The original purpose of the business association remains the same today, Seegmiller noted.

The business association plays a vital role in leading the growth of the community through its personal improvements and in working closely with the citizens of the city and the school district in the Howard Lake area.

The association has been involved in the Good Neighbor Days celebration by hosting such events as the Good Neighbor Days royalty banquet and helping with the royalty float in the parade. The association also awards scholarships to the Good Neighbor Days royalty.

At one time, the business association was in charge of all the festival events. Now, other organizations, such as the American Legion, the Lions club, and the fire department, have been involved in hosting Good Neighbor Days festival events, also.

Assisting with Howard Lake’s beautification project has been another endeavor taken on by the business association. The association has worked with the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School’s FFA organization, the Lions, and the American Legion in Howard Lake to place benches and planters in the City of Howard Lake.

The annual Howard Lake Community Expo, which recently took place, is another major event that the association sponsors.

Former association officer and 11-year member Denny Frey noted that the business association is in charge of the expo, from its set-up to the culmination of the events.

The expo has grown to include 60 to 75 exhibitors from Howard Lake and surrounding communities, such as Watertown and Lester Prairie.

A health fair representing area health care facilities, a miniature farm machinery show display, and a free pancake breakfast, which served between 1,500 to 1,800 meals last year, have been annual events at the expo.

“The expo is a good place to show what our town has,” Frey said.

“We don’t have a very big main street and people don’t know what we really all have,” Frey said. So, the annual expo event and the business association work to promote the City of Howard Lake and its businesses.

Association members also have an annual Thanksgiving turkey drawing and a holiday Christmas dollar promotion.

The association has participated or donated to other community or business events, such as the Lion’s Halloween party and the Good Samaritan Care Center’s Santa bags.

The association meets the third Wednesday of each month. Speakers on various subjects pertinent to business speak at the meetings occasionally. Representatives from new Howard Lake businesses may speak about their business, and what they offer the community.

The association continually sets long-range goals aimed at future growth for Howard Lake.

There are currently about 50 members, but that number is growing, business association president Kristi Vater noted.

Churches are also active in the association as associate members. Each church has a voting delegate to the association and is invited to attend the monthly meetings, but these associate members do not have to pay the annual dues.

“The association is a wonderful group of business members. I encourage other business members to come to the meetings,” Vater said.

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