Nicole Fernholz loves Alexandria—and she wants you to love it too.

We recently sat down with Nicole Fernholz, the director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (the AAEDC) to talk about what her organization does and how she’s supporting businesses in this area. Take a look at our conversation below—and watch this quick video to get to know Nicole even better.

First of all, Nicole, have you been a fan of Alexandria your entire life?

NICOLE: You bet! I was raised near Alexandria, but my husband was born and raised here. We moved back after having children to be near family and be part of the Alexandria community. I love it here. The only thing missing is a sushi restaurant. I’m still trying to find someone to build us a sushi restaurant.


What is the AAEDC exactly?

NICOLE: Basically, we exist to promote prosperity and optimize opportunity for everyone in Douglas County. When a business or nonprofit is looking to expand, relocate, or develop in our area, we help support them in a range of ways.


Can you give us an example of how that might look?

NICOLE: Let’s say someone was considering moving their business to Alexandria. They could call our office to see if there’s any way to have a public/private partnership, or they could ask us for data and insights about this area. They might be interested in some financing support, or maybe they want some help finding the right site for their business.

Those are just a few of the things we’re doing for businesses on a daily basis.

“We’re here to help businesses be successful in Douglas County.”

Nicole Fernholz, Director of the AAEDC

What about existing local businesses? How do you support them?

NICOLE: There’s a whole catalog of services we offer to help businesses grow and prosper in our area. One of the really cool programs we offer is free business coaching. If you’re wanting to take your business to the next level—whatever that might mean for you—you can visit our office and do virtual online consultations with a business coach. They’ll help you with anything from figuring out your target market, to developing a vision, shaping your strategic plan, planning your budget—whatever you need.


It’s free and confidential and you can use it as many times as needed. A lot of local business owners have had great results from this service, and I’m always encouraging people to take advantage of it!

“There’s a whole catalog of services we offer to help your business grow and prosper in our area.”

Nicole Fernholz, Director of the AAEDC

What do you like about working with Alexandria area businesses?

NICOLE: Well, first, we have some really amazing people and businesses here. It’s such an amazing community. We’ve got top-ranked healthcare and schools, we’re a hub for global manufacturing, we have a thriving community of locally owned retail, restaurants, and shops of all kinds.

But the thing I love most is that people around here really do collaborate and partner with one another. Even competing businesses work together to be better on their own and to be better for the community. The willingness to set aside your own needs to make something better for everyone is something that’s really unique to our community. 


What do you tell people who are considering moving to Alexandria?

NICOLE: I tell them they won’t regret it. You couldn’t pay me to go live somewhere else. There are so many beautiful things to love—the lakes, the community, the opportunities. This is a place where you can find your passion and make your mark. You can really be known here, and you can really make a difference.

Honestly, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is walking alongside the people and businesses in this area and being the resource that they need.

Nicole Fernholz, Director of the AAEDC

One last question, about all those letters in AAEDC. Do you have a shorter version of your name?

NICOLE: Haha, yes. The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission is a mouthful, even as an acronym—but you can call us the EDC for short. Whatever people call us, I hope they call when they need support!

Want support from Nicole and the AAEDC?