Nicole left island life behind for New York Mills

 Nicole Lalum, explore Minnesota

Nicole Lalum knows a few things about tourism. And about where she wants to live.

Currently Nicole is a regional tourism manager for Explore Minnesota in the northwest and central regions. Originally hailing from New York Mills, after college she spent time in Duluth promoting and marketing four radio stations. That eventually led to a gig in the Caribbean where she worked for two radio stations in the Cayman Islands.

“Living in the Caribbean is sort of like living your vacation, but it’s amazing how easy it is to take your surroundings for granted,” Lalum says.  “And we would return home every summer to Minnesota to visit family in the Otter Tail lakes area.  My husband would head up north on his annual fishing trip with the guys and I would hang around on West Battle Lake at my parents’ place.  We usually got here in time to enjoy Battle Lake Wenonga days.”

That’s right, she would come back from vacationland to vacation.  After five years of island life, the Lalums decided it was time to head home.

“We came back for family, the changing seasons, all the activities, deer hunting, ATVing, ice fishing,” Nicole said. “We missed those type of things.” She also admitted that she wanted her future kids to have a childhood much like she had growing up in west central Minnesota.

Upon their return, the tourism industry was a natural fit for Nicole as she found herself marketing and coordinating group sales and weddings at a local resort which led to a position managing the chamber of commerce and visitors bureau in Park Rapids, MN.

Now living near New York Mills, Nicole finds herself active in the community and raising her two kids, 7 and 9. She travels the region, offering to help communities and local attractions market themselves.

For Nicole, the Live Wide Open movement “has an emotional tie to it, it means having the freedom to do anything,” she said. “There’s the infrastructure, good internet and great people.”

And sometimes in the summer she even gets tropical weather.

Steve Henning