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United Way and Community Resource Connections working well at new, visible location

From left: Denae Alamano, United Way executive director, with Shannon Combs, office and program coordinator, in front of their new location at 716 Paul Bunyan Drive NW. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
From left: Denae Alamano, United Way executive director, Shannon Combs, office and program coordinator, and from Community Resource Connections: Ruth Sherman, Beth Warrick and Ciana Hart. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI—Staff at the United Way of Bemidji Area and Community Resource Connections are settling into their new space along Paul Bunyan Drive.

Both agencies announced their relocation in November from the previous spot on Hannah Avenue, and so far, it's been an improvement.

"We've always lived in the back of a building. We felt if the United Way was going to move forward, we needed to be in a visible location, a place where people can see us easily and look at what we're doing," said Denae Alamano, United Way executive director, on the new location at 716 Paul Bunyan Drive NW.

Alamano said the owners of the Hannah Avenue location were selling the building, and the United Way Board of Directors thought it was a perfect time to move. The 716 Paul Bunyan Drive building became available after Stittsworth Meats moved into an expanded location down the street.

"We have a great conference room that overlooks Paul Bunyan Drive and people can see us getting our work done. We're just excited to be in our own space and not be in the back of another office," Alamano said. "It's very professional here, we work with businesses here so that's nice to have."

The United Way had been at the Hannah Avenue location for five years, and before that the office was in the back of what's now the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, which was once a Wells Fargo.

"Having this visibility is going to allow us to have a bigger impact," Alamano said. "People will see the great work we do and will hopefully want to get involved."

That same visibility will also help with the CRC, which the United Way works closely with, Alamano said.

"We both have our own entrances and share the conference space together. We're aligned very closely with each other in that we're both nonprofit partner agencies. It's fun to be in a space with another organization that has the same alignment as us," Alamano said. "We work with them almost daily, when people are calling and looking for services."

In order to accommodate both organizations, a remodeling effort was needed for the 1,800 square feet the organizations were to occupy. Both the CRC and United Way received help via in-kind work to do so from Karvakko Engineer, Kraus Anderson, Office Solutions and Fisher Paint and Paper. Both organizations also received help lease-wise from Bank Forward, which owns the building.

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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