Rhonda Silence

EDA update includes report of lot sales, successful golf season

At the November meeting of the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, the main topic was activity at the Cedar Grove Business Park. EDA Director Mary Somnis updated the EDA board on several lots sales completed or under way.

One lot is going to Tyler Smith and Eric Brisson, the operators of North Superior Fishery, for another of their enterprises, a boat winter storage operation. Smith and Brisson purchased that business, which includes shrink-wrapping boats or campers for winter storage, from Kim Linnell. They may someday construct a building that might be used as a fish market, but for now, the space will be used to expand the boat storage.

Another purchase request came before the EDA from Cook County Towing. The towing company owns one lot and has a building there. There is a need for them to have more space for the damaged vehicles that they need to temporarily store. They requested the adjacent lot, which Director Somnis said is good for the business and the entire business park, as having the extra space will allow for some screening of the salvage vehicles.

Smith and Brisson and Cook County Towing both offered $25,000 for the lots they wish to purchase, which was accepted by the EDA board. The rationale for that price is that the lots are both under an acre, at .84 and .85. Both lot sales are contingent on a public hearing.

In related EDA news, the EDA also applied for a grant from the Iron Range Resources Board on behalf of the Cook County Historical Society. The historical society has purchased a business park lot to construct archival storage for its many historical items. The grant being sought is for $158,000 for site prep and infrastructure for the project.

According to EDA Director Somnis, there are 19 lots still available in the 32-acre business park.

Somnis also gave an update on the Superior National at Lutsen golf course, which finished the year in better financial shape than the EDA expected–and budgeted for–especially in light of significant winter damage to the golf course turf.

The EDA reviewed a report on the marketing efforts of the golf course. Somnis said the EDA was pleased with the outcome of those efforts and will continue with the same marketing team,WA Fisher of Virginia, MN, and Sarah Taylor in Cook County.

At the November meeting, the EDA also considered forming a Housing Rehabilitation Agency (HRA). Somnis told WTIP that this is a very preliminary discussion, but she said becoming an EDA would be a tool to help find funding for housing, which is part of the EDA’s mission.

Somnis also gave an update on CARES funding that the county allocated to the EDA to assist businesses. She said of the approximately $730,000 that the county received, $235,000 was earmarked to support businesses in the county. The EDA oversaw the distribution of those funds.

The next EDA meeting will be held via Zoom at 4 p.m. on December 8. For information on participating, contact Mary Somnis at director@prosperitynorth.com.

To hear more about the EDA activities, listen to the complete interview below.