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West End News: March 19

WEN_20150319.mp34.52 MB

If you’ve been thinking about starting or expanding a business in the West End, now is a great time to do it.  The Entrepreneur Fund, a Duluth-based nonprofit that provides educational and financial support for entrepreneurs, has started a new program especially for Cook County.  They are calling the program “enFuse: Cook County.”
This unique program is designed to help Cook County businesses increase revenue, reach new markets and smooth out the ups and downs of our seasonal economy.  This will be done by providing strategic advice, workshops and low-interest financing.  The goal is to see at least 25% growth in each participating business over the next three years.
This worthy effort is being funded by two local donors, who wish to remain anonymous, and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation.  West End business person, Steve Surbaugh, who has a long history of working with the Entrepreneur Fund is the local contact.  If you’re interested in growing or starting a West End business, contact Steve at 218-370-9757 or email  You can always call WTIP for contact information.
In my humble opinion, the West End is poised for success over the next decade or two.  Programs like the one I just mentioned, along with the very large expansion of Lutsen Mountains Ski Area, bode well for the future of our economy.  That, combined with a long-term commitment to the success of Birch Grove School and finally building a good supply of housing that is affordable for working families, will solve many of our nagging problems.
It goes almost without saying that the incredible natural beauty of Lake Superior, unspoiled lake-land forest, the nation’s premier wilderness area and a rich culture of arts will continue to make significant contributions to our quality of life.
As if those aren’t enough positives for the West End, we also enjoy the services of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, along with the hospital and Care Center, that give us truly world class medical care that is available and affordable for everyone.
Most of the world defines success as constant growth.  Here in the West End, success now seems to be defined by growing the capacity of our people to lead dignified, fulfilling and happy lives, free from fear and poverty.
There is so much good music happening in the West End these days, that it’s hard to single out any particular event.  But, Gordon Thorne, from Finland is organizing a truly unique and spectacular musical event on April 10th and 11th at Bluefin Bay in Tofte.  The 5th annual Fingerstyle Masters Weekend will feature master guitarist Mike Dowling, along with renowned fiddlers Randy Sabien and Tom Schaefer.
There will be workshops for musicians of any skill all day on Saturday.  Friday night there will be an informal picking circle at Bluefin featuring the visiting professionals, along with our own Gordon Thorne, who is no slouch on the guitar himself.  Saturday night there will be a formal concert.
All the proceeds from this fantastic event will be donated to WTIP for the transmitter replacement fund.  For more information, you can just surf over to the WTIP website.  Do I even have to say, you should be there, or you will definitely be square!
Speaking of happy events, how about those northern lights the other night?  It was a display to be remembered as one of the best.  As I was driving home, the aurora over the Sawbill Trail was distracting, to say the least.  At one point, the vivid green curtain wrapped around itself, forming a giant light tube leading to the heavens.  The cosmic tube of light then started dropping toward earth, giving me the illusion that I was about to drive right under it.  I thought to myself, “This is it! I’m about to be sucked into the sky by benevolent aliens!”  Well, that didn’t happen, but I did manage to stay out of the ditch – barely.