Tourism training: New director for Buffalo City Tourism focusing on learning areaSearle Swedlund is going to get the word out about Jamestown and North Dakota. But first, he said he needs to learn more about the community to help the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation achieve its goals of promoting the area. “Coming from my background I have a lot to learn about this community and understanding its gifts,” he said. “I’m the type of person who values getting to know a system, and in this case a community, before charging in with changes.”
By: By Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Searle Swedlund is going to get the word out about Jamestown and North Dakota.
But first, he said he needs to learn more about the community to help the Buffalo City Tourism Foundation achieve its goals of promoting the area.
“Coming from my background I have a lot to learn about this community and understanding its gifts,” he said. “I’m the type of person who values getting to know a system, and in this case a community, before charging in with changes.”
Swedlund started his new job Monday as the executive director of the BCTF. The Velva, N.D., native worked the last 14 years at his alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. He started in admissions and worked his way up to associate director of alumni relations.
Swedlund will replace Nina Sneider, who is retiring after nine years in the position. She said she is leaving in March and is moving to Minnesota to be closer to family.
Swedlund said he is excited about the foundation’s new website, a project Sneider started and is in development.
“The new website will make it easier for people from around the country to find out what Jamestown and North Dakota have to offer,” he said.
Getting the word out about the area and the state is the biggest challenge the foundation faces, Swedlund said.
“There is always going to be the challenge of getting past what people think they know about North Dakota and Jamestown,” he said. “There are some really unique experiences for outdoorsmen and people who want to experience the peaceful ambience that North Dakota offers.”
Swedlund said he had to reacquaint himself with some of the natural beauty that Jamestown offers.
“I was familiar with the town, but hadn’t ever really visited the reservoir north of town,” he said. “It’s huge and just beautiful.”
The work of the 16-member BCTF board is helping tourism-dependent businesses in the city connect with customers in a positive way, Swedlund said.
“The (foundation) board members, they are passionate, heartfelt wonderful people who are very engaged in this community,” he said.
Growing up in a small town and having that experience is part of the reason why Swedlund said he applied for the job.
“This was a great opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m familiar with Jamestown as it is between my hometown and Moorhead.”
Swedlund’s family visited here many times in his youth.
“I have a photo somewhere of me at 7 years old trying to touch the beard of the giant buffalo,” he said, referring to the World’s Largest Buffalo.
Alden Kollman, the foundation board president-elect, said Swedlund was one of 20 applicants for the job.
“Searle’s qualifications are what made him stand out,” he said. Kollman mentioned Swedlund’s experience in alumni and public relations as well as his overall enthusiasm for promoting Jamestown and North Dakota as reasons why he was chosen.
Swedlund has a degree in health care administration from Concordia. He did an internship in his chosen field in Whitefish, Mont., after graduating from college.
“I figured out that route didn’t appeal to me,” he said.
After two years of working with the Boy Scouts organization in Bismarck, Swedlund went to work for Concordia College.
The BCTF will host a public meet and greet for Swedlund at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Lantern Room of The Depot. The foundation will host the annual tourism meeting at 4 p.m. in the same location.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com