LF on short list for Town 180 project

By Terry LehrkeNews Editor

The city of Little Falls is on the short list to become part of a reality television series and the chance to win $100,000 and a community makeover.

Little Falls is one of three or four cities from across the nation that may be chosen for the “Town 180” project.

Kris VonBerge, executive director for the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, applied for the chance in June 2013. In September, she was told that Little Falls was in the top 10.

Winning, said VonBerge, would put Little Falls on the map.

VonBerge has been working with community residents in either helping them create, or encouraging them to create, short two-minute videos. The videos were initially posted on UTube for the five producers working with the project, and anyone else who cared to watch.

VonBerge said the producers wanted her to find people who were interesting and able to have a conversation. They gave her a two-week extension to produce more videos for their reviewal.

VonBerge’s quest at this point, taken from one of the producer’s advice, is to find a couple of people who have different opinions, are able to have a conversation and perhaps a ignite a spark, even a disagreeable spark, or who have two different approaches to come to the same end result.

The city that eventually wins will have its own six – eight week competition, said VonBerge.

Two teams, comprised of residents of Little Falls, would compete on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The teams will be tasked with something to improve in the city. The teams will have to show how they can work together to overcome differences of opinion or planning processes, said VonBerge.

At the end of each series, mini-prizes will be awarded, something that will help with funding a project.

“The mini-prizes may be $5,000 for a mini-project to enhance businesses to come to Little Falls; it could be whatever,” said VonBerge. “Yes, we do need more businesses in Little Falls. That may be something they task us with — to create an economic increase. It’s a wide open opportunity,” she said.

Of course, teams haven’t been chosen, because Little Falls hasn’t won, yet.

VonBerge said she’s as excited about the national attention as she is about the possibility of $100,000.

“Our Little Falls marketing money cannot buy national exposure,” she said. “If Little Falls is on a show, everyone says ‘Little Falls, Minnesota’ and I just got free publicity. That’s the reason I started it.”

She said she wants people to recognize “Little Falls, Minnesota,” not “Little Falls, New York” or “Little Falls, New Jersey.”

“The national exposure is way bigger than I could ever market,” she said.

Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem, also excited about the exposure, said such publicity could draw people to the amenities Little Falls has to offer.

“Hopefully the personalities represented will make people want to come to Little Falls,” she said.

Any Little Falls resident who wants to take part can call VonBerge, at the Little Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau, (320) 616-4959.

She still has a couple of days to produce two-minute videos that will be shown to the producers only.