The partnership between St. Cloud and the Rotary brings more value than just a summertime festival. SBG creates quality-of-life benefits.
“There are three key things that attract people,” explained Scott Zlotnik, City of St. Cloud Parks Director. “We want to be able to provide a great opportunity for open space and the public to be able to enjoy themselves – quality of life. We want to be able to provide great jobs. And we want education. When you have these three elements, you’ll have a fantastic community that everybody wants to move to.“
We want to be able to provide a great opportunity for open space and the public to be able to enjoy themselves – quality of life. We want to be able to provide great jobs. And we want education. When you have these three elements, you’ll have a fantastic community that everybody wants to move to.
Eastman Park and Lake George is the backdrop to many community events, walks, and runs, which all help to build community and recreation within the St. Cloud region. And SBG! has also helped boost the local economy.
“The SBG vendors are small businesses in the regional area, and they sell their goods,” said Zlotnik. “And people go downtown to have a drink or dinner. So, when you start to think of the economic return and the community benefits, it’s huge. Our businesses downtown love Wednesday nights because people tend to get off work, go eat and go to Summertime, and enjoy themselves.”
But the benefits go beyond money.
“If you look at the free benefits you receive, just with the entertainment venue at Lake George, (the Rotary) provides an atmosphere where everything is free,” said Zlotnik. “There’s the very high-level social benefits that we receive and the opportunities for open space and recreation. These are quality-of-life benefits. Having that kind of partner with that kind of vision and forethought is a dream come true for a park director.”
Mayor Dave Kleis said it is vital for a community to have partners who see a need and can come up with a solution to remedy that need.
Success Builds Success
Zlotnik has a triad approach in all that he does to make sure everything is sustainable. When the parks department works on a project, they want to make sure it will last, that it is safe and secure and that it brings value to the community. So, when the Rotary and the city partnered on the park renovations, they made sure to create an endowment fund to ensure the city always has funds for park upkeep.
One of the first things the city did with these funds was to build a new performance stage at Eastman Park. Previously, they were using a portable band stage that was not adequate for the weekly music series.
The fund also helped put new lights in the park and add a power box behind the stage to power all the equipment for stage events.
And as SBG! has grown, the funds raised from the event have also increased. All the net proceeds from the event go directly into the Rotary’s 501(c)3 foundation. These funds then get invested back into the community.
The success of SBG! has allowed the city and Rotary to create more projects in the area including Pathways 4 Youth and the Community Outpost (COP) House.
“It’s a prime example of a public-private partnership that allows us to come up with something so much better than either of us could have done ourselves,” said Rotarian Tim Wensman. “And, it pays dividends into the future.”