Downtown Difference Maker - Bruce Palmborg, Board President, Main Street Lansing

November 28, 2022
Downtown Difference Maker - Bruce Palmborg, Board President, Main Street Lansing

For the first 67 years of his life, Bruce Palmborg lived in various locations in South Minneapolis. In 2003, Bruce and his wife, Mary, sold their house and moved to downtown Minneapolis—23 floors above the Nicollet Mall within a short walking distance of Orchestra Hall, Loring Park, and the Walker Art Museum. They loved it! In 2009, as retirement was approaching, the Palmborgs moved to Lansing, Iowa into the house (built around 1880) in which Mary had grown up, located just one block off of Main Street. Although, people were curious as to why a big city guy would move to a small town in Iowa, Bruce has never once regretted his decision to do so.

As a result of Bruce’s work prior to retirement, he was knowledgeable about the Main Street Iowa program and introduced it to Lansing, Iowa just around the time the Chamber was faltering. A local realtor knew the “movers and shakers” in town and soon a steering committee of ten was formed and Bruce served as Chair. Lansing, Iowa, population 968, became a designated Main Street Iowa community in 2012 thanks in part to his efforts.

What’s not to love about Lansing? Being in the heart of the Driftless Area, the natural landscape is stunning year-round, and the Mississippi River is right at their doorstep. No matter your choice of outdoor activity, it’s all doable in Lansing: fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, birding, boating, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling—whatever suits you it’s available in Lansing. Bruce bikes and in the Driftless area that can be very challenging. One of the Palmborgs’ favorite pastimes is sitting on their south-facing back porch (with a cocktail in hand) with clear sightlines to the river, watching the tow boats and barges pass.

Bruce’s parents, especially his mom, taught Bruce that things can always be better and it’s up to you to make them so. It’s up to you. It’s up to us. (If you think about that, it can also be a curse —it’s never good enough). Bruce’s passion is helping his town be the very best it can be.

Currently, Main Street Lansing has a strong, positive Board and Committees, an Executive Director who excels, and a supportive City Council.

Main Street must always be changing. Downtown Lansing’s statistics are all up — high storefront occupancy rate, higher sales, increased number of employees, and an increase in tax revenue. Lansing can make room for more shops, more businesses. Although, Lansing is not the county seat, they do have a full-service Main Street — a medical clinic, a dental clinic, grocery store, post office, a bank and an insurance office, an attorney, two hardware stores (one of which is focused on agriculture), and several restaurants. This past summer Lansing was the end town for the 49th Annual RAGBRAI which brought thousands of people and bicycles to the community.

A frequent sound is that of train whistles blowing through town. A necessary occurrence since the track runs along Front Street and there are businesses with their attendant crossings located between the tracks and the river bank.

And, of course, there is Horsfall’s, a world-renowned variety store (shoppers include folks from as far away as Hungary). Horsfall’s lays claim to over a million articles — if they don’t have it, you don’t need it, and if you need it, they probably have it (at a good price).

As of this writing, Bruce and Mary are in the midst of renovating a plaza owned by Main Street Lansing. It’s located in the heart of downtown, right on Main Street. The community of Lansing received a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile to revamp their plaza to make it more inviting. A mural by a very reputable muralist will become part of the project next spring.

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