Think for a moment about the Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival. If you have ever watched the races, you've noticed that successful teams aren't always the most physically strong, or the most athletic, or even the most experienced.

Successful teams, no matter their strength or experience, are those teams that work in unison. By following the rhythm of the singular drum, their rowing raises their boats out of the water, increasing their speed dramatically. The successful teams have a singular goal, a common strategy and work together in sync. In one word, the most successful dragon boat teams have teammates who are aligned.

For the past 14 months, the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Visit Bemidji, Greater Bemidji and Bemidji Downtown Alliance have been working collectively with one goal in mind: to structurally align our organizations to ensure we are always working together and moving in the same direction. Why? Each of our organizations want to better serve the Bemidji region. We want to work in sync, raising our region's boat and increase our impact.

As organizations, we have much in common. We are passionate about the Bemidji area and believe in its future. We share a common mission to grow the economy and promote prosperity. While we all have our own areas of focus, ultimately, we are all working toward the region's success. We have often worked together on projects, but we need to begin to work closer on strategy.

In the coming weeks, we will be announcing our partnership to do just that-the Bemidji Alliance. At its core, the objective of the Bemidji Alliance is to help our region set its strategic direction and develop a collective plan of action for regional growth. As an umbrella to the Bemidji Chamber, Greater Bemidji, Visit Bemidji and the Bemidji Downtown Alliance, the Bemidji Alliance will work with the each of the four organizations, identifying opportunities to work together and support each other.

The creation of the Bemidji Alliance partnership does not change the importance of each of our individual organizations. The partnership will take a "noses in, fingers out" approach, encouraging collaboration and alignment yet ensuring each organization has the freedom to operate and fulfill its mission. Each organization will continue to have its own board, leadership and staff. The Bemidji Chamber, Visit Bemidji, Greater Bemidji and Bemidji Downtown Alliance all have had a rich history and together will have a bright future.

By partnering, the Bemidji Alliance will increase the impact of our work exponentially. It is exciting to think about the possibilities. Think of the what we can do as a region by bringing the collective energy and passion of our four key development organizations together. There is no doubt, together we can achieve more.

We are at a unique moment in the history of the greater Bemidji area. While we have seen tremendous growth and development, we face significant challenges. We need to provide increasing opportunities for our residents and businesses to prosper. To be successful, our region needs to come together-public, private and nonprofits alike-behind a bold plan of action.

By partnering in the Bemidji Alliance, the Bemidji Chamber, Visit Bemidji, Greater Bemidji and Bemidji Downtown Alliance are prepared to lead the way. We are committed to aligning our organizations long term to benefit our community. Through the Bemidji Alliance, collaboration will become part of the DNA of our organizations and community.

We are in the process of developing a website and other informational pieces that share more details on the Bemidji Alliance. In the meantime, if you have any questions or ideas, please contact any of the Bemidji Alliance partner organizations.

This Viewpoint was written by:

Deb Pfaff, Bemidji Chamber

Susan Goudge, Visit Bemidji

Dave Hengel, Greater Bemidji

Annie Butler-Ricks, Bemidji Downtown Alliance