RED WING-- You could say that Michelle Larson entered into the chamber of commerce world because of her fascination with the human brain.

Larson stepped into the executive director position for the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce in February after holding the same job in Lake City for about four years.

“I grew to love the work that chambers do when I worked in Lake City and it's an amazing organization,” she said.

While Larson is passionate about business now, she did not always plan to study business.

“Well, it's kind of funny. I was originally going to school at the University of Minnesota for neuroscience. I'm very fascinated with the mind and how the mind works. But after being in that program for a couple years, I kind of completely shifted to marketing. So I like to joke that marketing is like the brainchild of business so it's kind of the same thing -- but it really isn't.”

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Larson earned her bachelor's and then a Master of Business Administration from St. Mary's University.

The connections to neuroscience aside, there are numerous things that Larson loves about business and marketing: public relations, developing business plans, creating marketing strategies, setting goals for organization and more.

Larson is originally from Lake City and she and her husband agreed that they wanted to raise their three sons in the area, meaning that Larson was intimately familiar with Red Wing and its business community long before stepping into her role with the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce.

“This is an amazing community with so many things to offer,” Larson said, “from retail and dining to amenities and activities to manufacturing and other types of business.”

As Larson settles into her position there are a few goals that she hopes to accomplish early in her tenure. One is connecting and creating relationships with business owners. Larson explained that this can be difficult due to the pandemic:

“We have been trying to get out to visit the businesses it’s proven to be a little more challenging given the climate that we're currently in. Some businesses are open, some are not.”

Larson and her team also launched a membership satisfaction survey to better understand what chamber members find useful and what they would like to see change.

Starting a new job during a pandemic can be difficult, but Larson is optimistic about the opportunity and her time in the community.

“Red Wing’s got a lot of exciting things going on and I am very excited to be part of it,” she said.