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Season 2Finalist

Red Wing, MN

  • 1905
    • The year Red Wing Shoes opened its doors, providing leather boots to soldiers in both World Wars and, today, both blue-collar workers and style icons across the nation.
  • 1st
    • Home to the first institution of higher education in the state of Minnesota – Hamline University – which later moved to St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • 1861
    • The year the Red Wing pottery and stoneware industry began after the discovery of large clay beds in the Northwest sector of the city.

Named for the Chief who first met with a U.S. Army Officer in 1805, Red Wing was officially incorporated in 1857. Nestled in the quiet Mississippi River Valley and flanked by rolling bluffs, the town is one of the leading manufacturing hubs in Minnesota. Known for its leather, pottery and the iconic Red Wing Shoes, Red Wing’s products are recognized worldwide.

The town is proud of its rich manufacturing history, but as the Great Recession battered small communities like Red Wing across the country, its businesses struggled to keep their doors open, lights on and families fed, with vacant storefronts increasingly the norm.

“In our area, we have roughly 40 to 50 manufacturers and, to have top-quality, world-famous products that are made here, people are so proud of this unique little place that we have.”
-Patty Brown, Executive Director, Red Wing Chamber of Commerce

Red Wing rallied together to create the change so desperately needed across their quiet Mississippi River Valley. With the support from the local Chamber of Commerce’s passionate team, Red Wing hosted small business competitions, awarding funding to unique business plans that would benefit the downtown business district. The competition yielded several new businesses, including a bike shop to help locals and tourists take advantage of the trails and great outdoors surrounding the picturesque town. With the spark ignited, the community is now looking ahead to fan the flames for a brighter future.

“Small businesses just need more help, so that we can be here in another five years and look back and say, ‘Wow, our streets are busy and our stores are full.’”
– Patty Brown

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