Rhonda Silence

EDA update on Cedar Grove Business Park and more

The Cedar Grove Business Park continues to be a top topic on the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority agenda. In November, two more inquiries for lot purchases came in to the EDA and there was a discussion of four lot sales that have sales pending.

EDA Director Beth Drost updated the board on the two new inquiries—one for a possible storage facility and one for a possible gym. If those and the other pending sales take place, the Cedar Grove Business Park will have less than a dozen lots available.

The EDA board also heard year-end reports for Superior National at Lutsen, which the EDA manages. The board heard first from John Kohlhase and Sarah Taylor with an update on marketing efforts through the year and suggestions on marketing for next year. Taylor said they are looking forward to marketing to Canadian guests next season.

EDA Treasurer Scott Harrison and Superior National Golf Pro Heath Ekstrom then gave reports on the financial status of the golf course, with both saying things went well at the golf course. Ekstrom said the golf course grounds were in excellent condition. Harrison said the golf course finished the year with enough funds to make it through the winter and to make a payment on its $150,000 loan from the EDA. The golf course borrowed from the EDA for operations several years ago. The EDA board moved to make a $50,000 payment from the golf course to the EDA on that loan. That enabled the EDA to make a payment on its loan from Cook County, of $185,000, bringing the amount that EDA owes Cook County to $135,000.

Ekstrom said a challenge will be to keep the golfers who took up golfing as a way to be social and active during the COVID-19 pandemic coming back. Harrison and Ekstrom said they were confident business at Superior National at Lutsen will continue to improve.

Lack of housing continues to be an issue that the EDA is working to address. There was a discussion of the newly-formed Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) and how the EDA would work with that board. Director Drost asked the EDA if it wanted to renew its memorandum of understanding with the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP). Assistance from MHP was very helpful during the formation of the HRA. The board agreed to renew that MOU.

Drost also asked the board for authorization to put out a request for proposals for a housing study. She said many of the housing grants that the county, through the EDA or HRA, seek for housing development require a recent study of housing needs. Drost said the most recent study done for the EDA was by North Span about five years ago. The EDA board asked Drost to put together an RFP. EDA Board Member Anton Moody noted that the city did its own housing study when it was working on its zoning ordinance revision. He said that should be shared with whoever moves ahead with a study.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with EDA Director Beth Drost after the last EDA meeting about all this and more.