Business development and Cedar Grove lots discussed during September EDA meeting
WTIP file photo

Business development and Cedar Grove lots discussed during September EDA meeting

The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority met on September 13 to discuss new funding projects with North Shore Waste and the One Spirit Employment Program. In addition, the EDA discussed the 2023 budget and an update on Cedar Grove Business Park. 

Dustin Hanson, co-owner of North Shore Waste, presented to the EDA during the meeting. Hanson provided the board with information regarding the preliminary construction of a transfer station facility on 11 acres near the North Shore Waste property. The building would be 22,500 square feet and allow temporary holding of solid waste.

Hanson and Barry Pedersen purchased North Shore Waste in 2012. The service consists of smaller trucks picking up trash throughout the county and then traveling to Duluth every day. Hanson shared with the EDA that constructing a transfer facility would allow the smaller “packer” trucks to dump loads into a semi, which would alleviate the need for daily trips to Duluth. 

North Shore Waste is seeking potential funding opportunities with the EDA to construct the transfer station facility. Hanson explained during the meeting that North Shore Waste had experienced a 100% increase in fuel costs and a 26% increase in the cost of dumping. In addition, the need for a transfer station is becoming more apparent as maintenance costs and amounts of waste due to increased tourism occur. 

Because of this, Hanson and Pedersen are looking at more sustainable operations, such as the ability to condense waste to be transported less frequently, solar power for the transfer station building, and, eventually, electric vehicles. Garbage trucks are really expensive, and electric ones are even more so. A traditional diesel or fuel truck is approximately $300,000. An electric truck is roughly $500,000.

The EDA appreciated the informational presentation by North Shore Waste, and discussions for potential funding will continue.

“They have a vision, and they’re creating their plan. I think at this point, it definitely falls under something that we can and should be partnering with or helping to make happen,” said Executive Director Beth Drost. 

In other EDA news, the board approved a $30,000 grant to Sarah Hamilton with the One Spirit Employment Program. Hamilton explained during the meeting that the employment program brings workers from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The program is designed to allow young people to learn new skills, earn money, and build positive relationships. 

An update on the Cedar Grove Business Park was discussed, and the final approval process for the sale of two business park lots was completed. The two approved lots are for Fort Road Properties, LLC and Pat Lindy Enterprise, LLC. 

The EDA also discussed a recent lot sold to Ron Piercy of RP Sterling, LLC. Earlier this summer, in June, Piercy bought Lot 9 Block 5 for $23,000. The EDA recently discovered that Piercy had listed the lot for sale on Coldwell Banker for $69,000. 

Drost said that since the listing, she had received numerous queries from individuals asking about wanting to build a residence or vacation rental property. She reminded the board during the meeting that the intent of the Cedar Grove Business Park is for commercial use and not owner-occupied residences. 

During the meeting, there was a discussion on whether the resale of the lot is in compliance with the EDA covenants that buyers agree to upon purchase. 

Drost said there is detailed language in the agreement and contracts between the EDA and owners regarding the resale of lots. She said the EDA would pull out the agreements to ensure it worked out. 

Drost said, “There are covenants that the people must abide by, and the lot sale and the covenants are kind of separate in this case.”

EDA President Howard Hedstrom said the EDA will have to approve the lot sale before it goes through.

No decision was made during the meeting. 

In some final EDA news, the EDA is still struggling to get its finances up to speed. 

“It’s been a bumpy road since we got new accountants, and then our accountant retired, and then we got new accountants, so everything’s just been kind of up in the air, said Drost. 

The EDA met with the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 20 to discuss the 2023 budget and levy request. During the meeting, there was a request from commissioners for further detailed financial information. 

The EDA will meet again with commissioners during a work session on Sept. 30 to provide the additional financial information needed to finalize the 2023 budget and levy request. 

Due to the delayed financial reports during EDA meetings, the board has decided to move its regularly scheduled meeting to the 3rd Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be on Oct. 18. The board hopes the change will allow for more complete financial information. 

Former WTIP reporter Rhonda Silence contributed to this report. WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Drost following the Sept. meeting. Audio from the interview is below.