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Every day we live here, we like the place more and more (05/30/2007)
by Rich Enochs

About 25 years ago, I made my first visit to Winona. I was a youngish salesperson living in Chicago, and Minnesota was a part of my territorial responsibility. From that very first drive down the Mississippi from Minneapolis to Winona, I became a very big fan of the beauty of the region. Once in Winona, I established some long-lasting business acquaintances, and based on the genuine business and personal values that I began to see in each of these individuals, I began to like Winona even more. I would look forward to my scheduled visits to Winona. The town was lovely and the people genuine.

I would often return to Chicago and tell my wife Nancy about this great little town called Winona, and we would talk about how nice it would be to live and work in a smaller town. Remember, at that time we were living in a megalopolis with very few friends and even fewer dollars. I still held on to the conviction that should there come a time that I could hang my shingle in any town that I wanted, that Winona would be on the short list. However, a series of corporate moves to San Francisco, Connecticut and finally corporate headquarters outside of Philadelphia turned Winona into a distant memory.

As fate would have it, I worked for a company that was on an acquisition binge and we ended up buying Beatrice Chemicals, a part of which was a company called Fiberite located in my fondly remembered Winona. Shortly thereafter, I was to become a Winonan after all. I came home from work one day and said to Nancy, "Remember that little town called Winona that I liked so much? Well, we just bought a company there and I have been asked to go to Winona." Now, Winona does not have all of the attractiveness that say a San Francisco does, nor does it have the shopping and theaters that New York City or Philadelphia does, so Nancy was not exactly jumping up and down with glee when I delivered my great news. But I persisted, and we moved to Winona.

We have never regretted that decision. Every day that we live here, we like the place more and more. I am still excited about the people who I have come to know in Winona. I have met great businessmen and businesswomen in this town, anyone of whom would have found success anywhere. I have worked with so many great people whose whole lives have been dedicated to pursuing their daily tasks with a sense of character that I have seldom seen elsewhere. I see a vibrant community filled with an entrepreneurial spirit, the likes of which you will not find in other communities. I see the beauty of the geography and the topography with which we are blessed. I see outstanding educational opportunities for all residents, due to the diversity of the various schools that we have to choose from. I see a community founded on the river, whose character espouses the river's philosophy: we endure.

This is our home. It doesn't have as many good restaurants as Nancy would like, nor as many shopping opportunities as we should have. What we do have is a home that is surrounded by good friends and a love for our community. My shingle hangs proudly in Winona. 


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