Historic Bluff Country sets annual meeting for April 25

Southeast Minnesota Historic Bluff Country will be holding its annual meeting on Thursday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Elsie's on Main Street in Caledonia.

The regional tourism organization promotes businesses, communities and events covering an area north and south of the 88 miles of Minnesota Highway 16 that runs through southeastern Minnesota. The organization was created along with the creation of the Southeast Minnesota Historic Bluff Country National Scenic Byway, and is the sole administrator of the nationally and internationally-known byway.

Sylvia Leitzen, a retiree and former HBC director from the early 2000s, is back on the executive board of the organization.

“Without HBC, there is no byway,” Leitzen said when reached for comment. “That's just the way it is.”

The annual meeting is a place for people from communities all over the region to meet and discuss the way forward for promoting the region as a whole, filling the gap between statewide agencies and smaller, local operations. The organization allows for the local operations to pool funds and resources to reach a larger audience for a lesser investment, seeing returns from a federally recognized and internationally renowned resource of the area. Community officials, business people and citizens are encouraged to attend with their questions, comments and concerns for the region in what is being called “The United Nations of Southeastern Minnesota,” said Leitzen.

A bill has been passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently moving through the U.S. Senate to revive the federal byway program, which will bring more attention and possible federal funding to the area. As the administrators of the byway, HBC stands best positioned to manage the region's continued entry on the exclusive list of federal scenic byways, and is hoping that renewed interest in the program, the byways and the region will be a hot topic in the months following the meeting, said Leitzen.

Questions about the organization or RSVPs to the meeting can be sent to hbc@bluffcountry.com.