EDA special meeting for hiring new director, considering fire redevelopment funds

The Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority (EDA) will be holding a special meeting Tuesday, July 20 at 4 p.m. The meeting will be held at the new EDA office at 425 West Highway 61 (most recently the pharmacy building).

There are two discussion items on the special meeting agenda. The EDA will consider the personnel committee recommendation for the hiring of the next executive director. Current Director Mary Somnis announced her intention to retire over a year ago.

The other topic is a request from Joel St. John, a developer, for use of Fire Redevelopment Funds. The Northland Foundation established this fund after the devastating fire in downtown Grand Marais in April 2020. The EDA has oversight of the funds, which are meant to revitalize the vacant lots that once were home to the Picnic and Pine gift shop, the Crooked Spoon restaurant, and the White Pine North gift shop.

St. John is the owner of the Mayhew Inn on Wisconsin Ave. He is seeking funding from the Fire Redevelopment Fund to build something on at least one of the lots, along with the Joynes Department Store parking lot. According to EDA President Howard Hedstrom, St. John is in the process of purchasing the parking lot.

WTIP checked in with EDA Board President Hedstrom after the last regular EDA meeting to learn more about other EDA activities, such as lot sales at Cedar Grove Business Park for a commercial laundry operation, about changes to zoning that will offer more uses in the business park, and about the possible formation of a county Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA).

The formation of an HRA is also on the agenda for the Cook County Commissioners at their committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, July 20. That meeting starts at 10 a.m. in the county commissioners’ room at the Cook County courthouse.

Here’s Rhonda Silence, speaking with Hedstrom about all this and more.