Even though the weather didn’t provide the nicest welcome, downtown consultant Ron Drake said the people he’s met in Sleepy Eye have provided a warm welcome.

Even though the weather didn’t provide the nicest welcome, downtown consultant Ron Drake said the people he’s met in Sleepy Eye have provided a warm welcome.

Drake arrived Sunday evening, April 8, driving through the snow after flying into the cities. Monday morning EDA Coordinator Kurk Kramer collected him from the AmericInn and started to show him around town. Those that follow social media have likely seen some of Drake’s posts from his time in Sleepy Eye (if not, just look for Flip this Town on Facebook). Kramer provided Drake with a perfect opportunity to show his followers that he “walked on water” in Sleepy Eye when he brought him to the lake to see one of Sleepy Eye’s attractions. That was a new experience for Drake who thought he’d probably not walked on a frozen lake before.

On Monday and Tuesday Drake and Kramer, at times joined by others involved in the effort to bring Drake to town, walked up and down Main Street stopping to see downtown buildings, visit with business and building owners, and check out second floors and basements along the way.

In addition, the Sleepy Eye CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) hosted three gatherings for Drake. Monday noon he met with Sleepy Eye realtors and bankers to tell them about his experiences developing downtown buildings in other communities and discussing the local housing market and availability of investment funds.

Monday evening, a group of about 50 business people, chamber board members, and building owners/investors attended a dinner meeting at the Event Center to hear Drake’s stories and ideas and ask him questions. The evening included time for Drake to mingle with those in attendance before dinner and to speak with individuals with questions after the presentation.

City officials, including council members, the fire marshal, fire chief and building inspector met with Drake for lunch on Tuesday.

After this issue of the Herald-Dispatch went to press, Drake met with elementary and high school students at St. Mary’s and Public School to get their perspective on Sleepy Eye. Wednesday night a community presentation was held where Drake shared his experiences and ideas on revitalizing Sleepy Eye’s downtown. A report on the Wednesday events will be in next week’s newspaper.