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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely Economic Development Authority reworks priorities

Catie Clark
Posted 3/29/23

ELY- For years, the Ely Economic Development Authority has put broadband at the top of its priority list for the community, but on Tuesday they were able to check it off as a job that’s finally …

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Ely Economic Development Authority reworks priorities


ELY- For years, the Ely Economic Development Authority has put broadband at the top of its priority list for the community, but on Tuesday they were able to check it off as a job that’s finally completed.
“This is a big moment for us,” said Mayor Heidi Omerza during Tuesday’s meeting of the EEDA. “This makes us a viable community not just for today, but for years to come.” With the completion of the downtown fiber loop and the residential fiber hookups by Midco largely complete, Ely finally has the broadband connectivity it’s long sought.
The city’s economic development consultant, John Fedo, credited Ely clerk-treasurer Harold Langowski for his tenacity in making it happen.
Items still on the EEDA priority list include, in order, trailhead development, west-end redevelopment, work-force housing, the proposed Ely Regional Community Complex, the dentist shortage, the housing shortage, the Spaulding lots, the childcare shortage, and the trails mapping program.
In other action, Eva Sebesta, executive director of the Ely Chamber of Commerce, updated the EEDA on two job fairs. At the top of her list was the Northforce career fair on March 29 at the Vermilion Campus of Minnesota College North with over 40 employers. “There are firms hiring for both full-time and seasonal jobs,” Sebesta said. She added that the Northforce event was followed by a chamber of commerce career fair that evening at the Grand Ely Lodge with 25 employers.
Sebesta also added a plug for the chamber’s annual dinner on April 13, noting that the chamber would give out both business and citizen awards at the event. More details are available on the chamber of commerce website.
Sebesta along with Fedo detailed an upcoming April 5 event at the Boathouse Brew Pub. The Non-Traditional Lenders Forum Lunch will bring multiple non-traditional lenders to network with local businesses and entrepreneurs, including APEX, the Entrepreneur Fund, the Small Business Development Center, and several others. The coordinating agency for the event is the Northspan Group. The event as well as the lunch are free.

EEDA priorities for 2023
In the general discussion on priorities, Langowski noted that the Minnesota Housing Authority had recommended that Ely’s Housing Development Authority update its housing study, which was done four years ago. This may help with obtaining funding for projects like the HAD’s proposed townhouse project.
He also mentioned incentives available to bring dentists to communities like Ely, including $30,000 schooling incentives and $120,000 loan forgiveness programs. “If you know any dentists, you might want to tell them about these if they want to come here,” Langowski added.

720 E. Miners Drive
Langowski told the board that the terms of the lease extension for the Minnesota Dept. of Revenue’s space at 720 Miners Drive had been approved by the Minnesota Dept. of Administration. The lease agreement will be extended for five years, through June 30, 2028. The extension agreement has built-in increases for the space every year, starting at $80,323 for the 2024 fiscal year (FY) ending on June 30, 2024, and increasing to $88,294 for FY2025, $90,862 for FY 2026, $93,594 for FY 2027, and $96,365 for FY 2028.
Langowski reported that the film production company which wants to shoot a movie in the Ely area is interested in renting the space in the same building vacated by the former travel agency tenant. “The lease will be from April until early June,” Langowski stated. He asked for EEDA’s approval to negotiate terms with the film production company for renting out the space, which the EEDA gave with a unanimous vote.
In other business, the EEDA:
• Approved the payment of the $4,000 invoice for John Fedo & Associates for services rendered during February.
• Approved the payment of the EEDA February bills of $10,846.
• EEDA board member Paul Kess was absent from the meeting.
• Approved a $25,000 economic development loan, a $25,000 forgivable loan, and $25,000 private funding for True Value Hardware.


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