A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from Ely, Minnesota. Program highlights the northern Minnesota town and the BWCA, twenty years after major Congressional legislation in 1978; a controversial Act that banned mining, logging and most motor use. Rachel Reabe interviews Mike Hillman, a local historian, and Jim Krile, Director of the Blandin Community Leadership program. They discuss the renaissance and hard changes taking place in Ely and in other small northern towns. Hillman and Krile, also answers listener questions. Later in program, Reabe speaks with a trio of business owners, who reflect on Ely's past.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
NPR's Main Street radio coverage of Royal issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. We invite you to visit the Main Street website go to www.mpr.org where you can hear today's program at your convenience as well as other Main Street reports. The address again is www.mpr.org. Good afternoon, and welcome to the special Main Street radio show were broadcasting live from Ely today a small Northeastern Minnesota town on the edge of the Wilderness. I'm Rachel Ravine. You can probably tell we're set up on one of the busiest Corners in town on the green outside progress Northwoods company and the Chocolate Moose 20 years ago the battle over the Boundary Waters canoe area was being fought here in the town of Billy Landmark legislation passed in 1978 prohibited logging and Mining inside the Wilderness and sharply reduced motor use some predicted. It would also strangle the town of Ely long dependent on the steady flow of Taurus, but instead he leaves experiencing something of a Renaissance new upscale businesses selling Wilderness gear in Northwoods Furnishings line Main Street new people of moved to town tourism is at an all-time high. Let's talk about what's happening here. And in other small towns Mike Hillman a fourth-generation to Ely I didn't local historian is with me here and Jim Creole a rural sociologist and director of the Blandon Community leadership program joins us from our studio in St. Paul. Welcome gentlemen, thank you Rachel. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments. You can reach us today by calling us at one. 800-537-5252 Michael start with you your father lived here your grandfather your great-grandfather. Would they recognize this Ely gentrified? I think past the point that any of the original settlers would have ever envisioned. Is it an improvement? I it's different. I I think that you know, you're there you can escape what was meant to be and it just happened that the mining people came here because the iron was here the iron lasted about 280 something years and then they didn't need it anymore. I think I learned more last summer from when the Cornish American Heritage Society came to town because they go to Old mining towns and they were so impressed with you because there was a life here and a vibrancy and I think for the Old Town people what might be missed as the fact that change is a very difficult thing to accept and some of the old people will say to me. What do you think about this really in all say look at the Town? Look how beautiful it looks have you ever seen it looking this vibrant and you can see that there's a sense of Pride and I think A gratefulness maybe now that starting to be appreciated because we had something after the mining to build on it's not perfect. But maybe the economic curse of Elia said it's always been one economic base. That's why I'm so happy that Patty's going to be on later because we do have other things going here. Ali was dependent on mining when the steel demand would miss a Year. Everyone would be laid off and it would be hard times last winter with the El Nino conditions. It was very tough here. We didn't have any snow one. If you don't have any snow you don't have any skiers. And if you don't have any snow, you don't have any snowmobilers and so we really felt it up a pinch. That's why the elite Economic Development Council is trying to reach out a little that. We've got a business park. 10 years ago. It was the veterinary clinic in a revenue building and now it's it's blocked them out for the homeless degar mukluks and Hallmark cards. There's some wonderful things happening the state of Minnesota Revenue building is there so we're having something other than tourism, but I'm ungrateful old mining town know I I don't think so. That was a very deliberate change of perspective. We never wanted to be a birthstone. Some places seem to be born for tourism and other places happy and I have tourism thrust upon them when the Pioneer mine shut down in April 1st in 1967 the town chased other mining Phantoms, they look for copper and then they look for nickel there was operations salt the Babbitt every test shaft that went down. It was going to be a bonanza. They were drilling for gold in the 1980s on the better shag will lake. So we said they didn't let it go quickly fried. These people are hard rock miners. These were the the men that went underground. They were the elite of mining. This was a very close-knit. I'll give you a great example. We're sitting on what used to be the turf all the old shag will hotel and next to us was the old Ely Shopper which is now the parade gets Northwoods company and upstairs is the Brandenburg Gallery Brent Spink was having he's a local artist. Okay, he's having an opening Joe seliga. The canoe Builder is standing next to me and we've got a little boy leaves on her hands and Tiny sandwiches and Jose turns to me and he says in this something here you and I are above the old Ely Shopper with doilies on our hands eating canapes and an Art Exhibit and you're the only person I know he said you remember the days in the park when if somebody knew came into town that everybody would be talking. Who's that with the Henning family all that's his Uncle Bob. Okay, and everybody would be placated and that's changed now. There's a It's kind of a repeat of history in the 1880s 1890s 1910. This was a place to come to because it had good jobs the quality of life and opportunity. Many people came 41 different countries. That's what's on the u.s. Steel registry for for people that came to work here. 111 years later people are coming here again every year there's less Wilderness permits, but there seems to be more people in town because I think the one thing that people tend to miss when they talk about the Wilderness is that people relate to Wilderness through place and it's very important to have a place that's near A wilderness like The Boundary Waters and it does my heart good because so many people now are coming here because they realize it's a wonderful place as you make it your business to study small towns the fact that Ali had to turn away from its mining roots, or at least let go long enough to move ahead. That's something we're seeing repeated over and over again in small towns. We see it. I think it's as you said Rachel over and over again and sometimes communities are not quite as successful as usually has been in terms of redefining themselves people move to a place because they can make a living there and then they develop an identity around that we're miners or were farmers or where Lumber people or whatever. And when the economic function of the community changes, we have to change our identity. I thought Mike's story about looking for every kind of mining possible was very typical of what happens in communities in business. We say we've developed a core competency and we'll go with that core competency what communities develop a core competency a night and then identity with Windows economically plates shift and then the challenge for the community and its leadership is to say if we can't exercise B's core competencies what other resources do we have around us and what other kind of identity and skills can we create for ourselves as a community? 20 years ago, we had people say if the 1978 legislation restricting the Wilderness is passed Ali will die. It will be a ghost town and as we sit here today on one of the busiest corners of town, it doesn't look like a ghost town gym is what happened in Ely quite unusual listeners our ability to predict which communities are going to live and die based on truly external knowledge of that Community is pretty hit-and-miss. I think you lie is a classic example of a community in which The leadership new and old people who cared passionately about the community look at their opportunities and invested heavily in and making some changes. We have a large history in in the state of Minnesota of predicting which communities are going to live and die one time Minnesota had a history of trying to create experimental communities because we thought certain small towns were going to disappear, you know, the basic asset any world Community has any Community has any neighborhood has are the people who live there and if the people who live there are willing to not necessarily Embrace change and say this is the greatest thing ever but to accept it as a reality and say, how are we going to manage this in a positive way? How are we going to continue to live here and maintain some positive values about this place? There's no guarantee that a community like Eataly will die. There's no guarantee that it will live either but to those kinds of predictions in That we tend to make is Outsiders an expert usually underestimate the power of a community to pull itself together and continue forward. When we covered the town of comfrey after the tornado or when we were in Breckenridge or Ada after the floods the things that we as a Staff Force truck with over and over again is people's unbelievable tenacity. It didn't matter that the town was gone. Mostly or the town had been flooded or most of Main Street was gone or City Hall was gone. All they kept saying is we will rebuild we will rebuild that real sense of this is our place and we don't want to pick up and move 15 miles down the road to another town. This is our town. It may not look like it did yesterday, but it's our place. Is that something that is We see often in small towns, or is that something that we see in any size towns that real sense of this is our place. This is where we stay. I think this place is important. I mean we tend to identify ourselves in terms of place. I'm from and then we name a place or if we're in an urban area. I'm from such and such a neighborhood. I lived in Saint Paul for 15 years. I was from the East side that was an identifiable place but along with that are those emotional connections people aren't just in a place. They're also in relationship not to the place alone, but to the other people who live their income free and Ada and East Grand Forks part of what kept people there is that it wasn't just their Town. It was their Community. It was their home. There are relationships there. There's history. There are identity comes from that. And it's it's part of that and I think we can change those things. But if you know, there's we are a mobile Society or a society that's talking about living in cyberspace and yet the realities of life where we get our affirmation where we find meaning we raise our children where we grow old where we bury our dead are named places it within which we have deep relationships with other human beings. Are phone lines are open today? You can call us and tell us about your town one 800-537-5252. There was a comment made by one of the other people I talk to about the showing their comment was that some towns seem to have almost a suicide mentality that they can't get over. What is going on before and they are so still wrapped up in what is an anymore that they're almost unwilling to move forward Mike. How did the people here get themselves to finally take the mining out of their hands and move forward. I don't think we really did that. I think Ali will always recognize its mining Heritage. It's Lumber Heritage. It's voice is your heritage the heritage of Native American people have some history here that goes back a long ways. One of the things that I think that people were afraid of here. Is that what was here was almost going to be in golfed. I asked Charles kuralt's field team. One day. I said you come back here now for three or four episodes of American moments. I said surely you must have another place that you could find an American moment. And is he black minutes photographer turn to me and he said Charles likes Ali because Ali remembers who founded it it remembers who it was and some of this has been melted into the new town and I think maybe more than anything else people say, why did mr. Cross by the radio station and his response was I I don't want Ali to lose its voice. And I think by giving local people the chance to run that station Jim Brandenburg called one day and I've never met him and he said I got to meet you for lunch and he came in and he said you're you're the Synergy between the old and the new town. You're the thing that made it kind of metal together because it would be such a shame to lose such a rich history and in an identity and the people that are coming here. They're the people that go down I-4 years at the soudan. Mine is a historian. Most people that came from other places that were fascinated by what went on here. What I would say to Old Town people they would say boy you sure talk to Outsiders a lot and I'd see if you're not going to use it. You're going to lose it. The one thing you can take with you is your history. You can take your time zone to CST. You can take your family's history. And if you don't share it with people if you don't talk to him, it'll it'll be gone and 20 years from now if you'll you'll miss something. We have Norman from Ali on the phone with us today. Good afternoon, Norman. Oh, I was just kind of wondering what the school enrollment is now compared to what it was in 1978. That's a big problem. I I couldn't give you a straight answer Norman, but I can tell you this one of the big concerns that we have here is a community and one of the reasons why he lie wants to diversify to get the right kind of businesses. Here are School enrollment has dropped quite a bit and we're doing what we can the one thing about tourism. The one thing about being a desirable places. You have to have a lot of money to get a place on Burnside. You have to have a lot of money to get Lakeshore here in a lot of people that are coming are retirement people. We need to have something that will bring people into town that are raising families and people like Bill handing in the Ely area Development Council are doing their best to see that we try to do that phone. Number one 800-537-5252. I'm Rachel reabe. We are broadcasting live from Ely the corner of Sheridan and Central on this Friday afternoon my finger. I'm here with the Ben Johnson. It was a graduate student in the department of history at the Yale. He's visiting Ely. He's been studying Ely. In fact, it's part of his studies at Yale and its various periods of conflict and gross and he has a question for I guess sure. I've started coming up here eight years ago. I guess I was a freshman at Carleton College and as many of the panelists have noted the the growth in eat in Ely is meteoric a noticeable every year. It seems like a couple of new buildings have gone up but I wonder if this is entirely a good thing certainly good that he has been able to find a replacement for the jobs lost with the decline of the iron mining industry. But I remember other towns in other towns many in the west which have seen such rapid tourist development and so many well-heeled Outsiders coming in at the cost of living skyrockets your property you may not be making any more money but your property values increased by 4 5 6 time so somehow you have to come up with the money for the excess taxes Builders have no incentive to build for Modest homes or apartments for folks if they can sell million-dollar million-and-a-half dollar cabins took two people from Minneapolis or Chicago. So I guess my question for for any or all of the panelist is ezeli growing too fast. Is it in danger of becoming a sort of tourist colony of the Twin Cities? What's your address that Mike? What do you think about the change? I think it's inevitable. But is it a huge concern? Because the number of people that can come into the Boundary Waters has been set at a certain limit that that is that's going to help things. Okay, I think in 20 years you're going to see Northern Minnesota spread out down towards the North Shore. Our population is going to get bigger as the Lakes get bought up here. There's some wonderful property going down Highway 1 in that country. I think you're going to see more and more people that want to get out of the city center going to be looking for places. The alternative is Norway, Michigan where the mining man came from the Upper Peninsula to mine iron here Norway, Michigan had nothing to fall back on. I like most mining towns. It was a geological rose that Blossom for 80 years and I'd be alternative. I mean I I'm concerned about it, too. I don't want to see the town here. Turn like the Front Range where you go back to a little town up in the mountains and all of a sudden there's so many new people there that nobody remembers the stories and that's a concern that Charles kuralt at gym Creoles. Is that a problem how you change and how you adapt to the changes? Should there be a concern for Ely that tomorrow it will wake up and be Wisconsin Dells and it won't happen tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow I might start worrying about it. I think I think it's well poised question. I don't think either has a choice anymore. It's going to grow and tourism is going to go as long as there's a section of the economy that has a high degree of disposable income. I think the question is, how do you manage that growth? Is Mike mentioned earlier just to keep in mind that you lie is is really trying to make some progress in terms of diversifying its economy. I might mention Bill Hennigan and his organization there doing some joint Powers agreement with us. District and surrounding townships are they can be more effective and diversifying the economy. But if I if I had a word of advice for Ely is keep keep struggling with your vision and for any Community, what is it that we want to be and what are the boundaries we want to put on on this? I think again, Mike is is very wise the settlement pattern. If you will love sort of Tourism settlements retirement homes, second homes this kind of thing the minnesotans, you know up north to the lake used to mean going to Brainerd. Well drive to Brainerd some Friday evening and save yourself to you. This is good rush hour traffic. So now we see the expansion to the Grand Rapids area North Shore. If you look at Cook County the population changes their that marvelous little signs on Highway 61 tired of the Rat Race Day in Cook County in 10 years. We're going to put up a little signs and Cook County saying tired of Cook County go someplace else. Call the Oregon syndrome. I think managing growth for a popular destination area Lykke Li will become a significant piece and in part of the Boundary Waters issue is going to start taking on the character of people who want to move up there and use that is not tourism country that you come to visit but recreational area that you consume locally based on larger larger disposable incomes. I think it's a real challenge for Ely or any other community for whom tourism is a part of the economic Mainstay & Johnson. You've got a follow-up question. Yeah just actually to follow directly on what the gas was saying. I mean, I think you're right. I think Mike is right to suggest that it's not a question between going there's no question that either can't go back to free Boundary Water status, but I wonder if it's a question really of nothing or complete unregulated growth until I guess I would ask is a follow-up if Any locals are local political organizations including perhaps conservation's with common sense her trying to come up with ways that Haley can manage its growth or if this is just something that people sort of worried about I know the guy who works in the stockroom at the grocery store told me that his property taxes have gone up six times, you know over the since he bought his house 10 years ago. Is anyone doing anything about this yet? Annie Lee was it just sort of something that people talk about over a beer or coffee. We are putting together and I I wish Bill probably Henning could address it better than I could but right now I think that if you look back on ely's History by address the group from St. Louis County Historical Society in May of 1995, and they said what's happening here, and I said, I think what's Happening Here is the Old Town in the new town or melding Together by The Holiday Inn was coming online the Super 8 Motel was coming online. I think people finally right now in 1998 or just really realizing and just beginning to believe how much growth this place is going to see. I hope that I'm lucky enough to be sitting next to Bill Mills 20 years from now with you underneath the canopy talking about where it's gone. And when and where we write. Some people are concerned about that 9 million Acres. That's what Ernest oberholtzer wanted in. The first place was a 10 million acre Wilderness here. What are we going to do with the Superior National Forest big questions Genie from Stillwater is on the phone with us Genie. Go ahead with your question. I'd like to say that I'm glad that languages is the same I can detect and I asked that's what the people from Ely and my question is that we have gone up to a family camp for years and years and I've heard that there are conflicts with the camps in the area and I'm I'm curious about what kind of relationship you see between the camps and the town of Ali and what can be done to better his relationship. I don't see any problem. I don't see any resentment. How can I resist how can I dislike somebody for coming up here and wanting to spend some time and love the place a little bit for the same reason that I do. I think the thing that that I would ask if people coming here is to practice good stewardship and remember that this is a special place all the people that I learn the country from back in the late 50s and early 60s. These were people that took care of the place. They practiced no impact camping. They had reverence for the country and I would say if you were coming up here. We're really pretty friendly people and if you meet us halfway will meet you halfway. And if we see that you're a good camper appreciates the country and willing to take care of it. I think will make you feel welcome. Well, I'm glad to hear that. I loved it up there you come up there ma'am. You call the radio station if anybody gives you any trouble you ask for Iron Mike afternoon one 800-537-5252. This is a special Main Street broadcast coming to you live from Ely. We've invited a trio of Ely business owners to stop by and give us their perspective on the community. Bill Mills family has run a clothing store in Ely for 85 years the date JD Mills company just up the street from us now is operated by his son Patty Steiger Holmberg move to Ely 20 years ago in 1986. She opened Steger mukluks and finally Rosie earns the owner of the Ely Barber Shop, which is been in business for 2 years. Thank you all of us for stopping by and taking Mike off the hook who had to answer for the entire community and all the citizens of Eli so you can help him out a little bit. Let's talk about some of the questions that have already come up. The conversation today bill when you and I talked on the phone and we talked about the Ely Renaissance. You said this is not a Renaissance things are not as good as they were when the mind was in town talk to me about that. That's true. That's true. We've switched around to wear their visitors and our summer residents are an important part of the economic base year. It's not too recent when we had a lot of people working at woods, but then we got the force or so paranoid that there can be in a lawsuit that it's almost knocked out and things like that. Let's talk about your business, which is a good example of a business that operated during the Heyday of the mines and in the after Mayan era and now in front of the new tourism board here in Ely have there been many changes since your father ran it to when your son has run a do you have to gear up in a whole different way to appeal to Ely as it is the 1998 basically a customer is the same kind of a person that you and I are We got to know his wants and Lisa fire. That's what you're doing. I was born two doors down from here in Jim Brandenburg has the apartment. I was born in the front room of that building up there. If you look up stairs the right right window, that's the room. I was born in I played ball on the street out here. One time one of the older boys had a 14-foot blanket, we could two sleds and we started on the top of the hill in the winter time when all the way down the hill here. They're cops are watching we got the we were so fast that got away from him. And actually you were one of the ones who told me not even in the old old days just the old days 20 years ago. You could walk down the middle of Sheridan Street and not have to worry about somebody hitting you with a car. Yeah. That's pretty true. I was going to make a comment on it with Bill the population here is a lot lower than it was when I first moved here. The population was a lot higher so the boom that you're talking about is a relative thing. It's a tourism boom as what you're saying. You're seeing a lake home. Boom. You're not staying up an actual boom to the city of Ely in terms of population population was I think 6000 on a real parrots for now, so no and then the winter most of everybody here will recall that a lot of this Main Street businesses closed. Wonder you couldn't get in welds actually main main street shifted to the Chapman in the winter. And so the local people mainly shop that put my didn't Bill Mills clothing store and the as everybody recalls. The hardware stores are over there. So the main street where the tourism business has existed just kind of closed their doors and all went to Florida guess. I don't know where they all asked. How do you open your business 20 years ago at a time where some people were saying get a good look at Ely because it is on its way down. That's the time where you came in and opened up to your mom football. Correct that I moved to Ely 20 years ago, but my business my first in 1987, I opened up my doors in Ely. That was the first my first store on Main Street and what's your business or is any successful business in Ely gear to the tourism trade? Does it have to be I'm sorry. I didn't does it doesn't have to be. If you want to succeed in a big way, yes, I would say that any of us that are are really catering to the tourism need of Taurus and and the people but I have to stay on the other side of that coin for me and Rosie. I'm sure to as well as Bill you're looking at three people that cater and sell a lot to the people from Ely in the area of huge chunk of what I sell goes to the people in this town. Rosie's customers are mostly local bills or as well or not not involve formerly. He's retired eagles mostly now, so you still sell a lot locally, even though tourism is a big but I would say I don't know what the breakdown is. Regionally locally. We saw a tremendous amount of goods up here because it's called So the people here needed works out really well for us. And the reason I started this business here was not because I thought I was going to sell Goods to people coming from out of town. I intended my business to sell to people that live up in the school region and it was a bonus and the bonus was tourism right Rosie. Let's talk about your situation because it's a little bit different than bills and Patty's you wanted to live in a lie, but you had to figure out something to do so you could live in Ely right and everybody needs a haircut. So how did you come up with a barber shop how that work? Well. it's a sort of turned of a hobby into an income when I sort of looked around and and I came from working at a camp setting in the area and talk to different people who were also folks who were here year-round, but felt a strange from the town and they're they're scared to death to get a haircut in town. Not for very good reasons necessarily, but I thought we'll at least said they would come and get a haircut and just so that's what spurred me to decide to go to barber school and see if I could make it work, but mostly I just look for openings. in the situation to see what would work up here and the more that I looked around is started to appear that Barbershop was what was needed and I talked to a lot of men in town when I would come up and visit friends from when I lived here before and They said yeah, absolutely Barbershop is needed. Then you have to be open before 6 and you have to be open after 5 so or before 8 in the morning and after 5, so I came up with some crazy hours of 6 in the morning till 6 at night and it works because there were there to meet peoples needs. Is it all worth it so you can live in a lie? Sure. This was the plum. Yeah to be able to live here. Are you concerned about worth it? If you don't get any time to enjoy do whatever you do, whether it's you know, ATV travel or fishing or canoeing. And so yeah, this is I run a business that there are two employees myself and Jeff dahlin, and we only work we're only open for days a week. And that's so we have three days to go canoeing in some people have a hard time with that. But then when they think about it, they realize that that's why we're here. I don't have to get their haircut too. So they can wait till Wednesday. Let's talk about some of the issues that were brought up in our earlier conversation. What about property taxes? I know Rosie when you and I talked you said hard to buy a house it's expensive and it's getting more expensive. Is that the downside of the popularity of Ely of the growth of a lie for you? Sure, it's it's something that I anticipated I come from the East Coast originally and I worked in coastal towns when I was in college and high school. And so I knew what I understand the tourism economy and when I came here I saw it coming here and I knew that in in those towns, it's pretty much split. There's the people who serve everybody and then there's the people who own everything and they're not the same people and I hope that doesn't happen to the extreme that is happens on the East Coast, but I think it's possible here if we don't look at our zoning and make some decisions. So be smart about growth. I understand now, it's more laissez-faire in and more targeted towards let's get some more industry here, which makes sense, but I think some things could be done in terms of zoning and local taxes that could protect the old town and go from there Jim creel. Is that a very important factor that you've talked about growth change is inevitable but should towns be very careful about the way they manage that growth and be very proactive instead of reactive. Obviously, yes, you know change change is inevitable development requires some intentionality, I think. Communities that are are in the process of changing and you noticed one of the earlier speakers reminded us that at least within the municipality of Ely the population has gone down the India. We have folks been living out on the Lakes who want goods and services drive on our streets, whatever so growth and development are not necessarily the same the same kind of thing and I think that's a challenge for any community that has the kind of opportunity that he only does. How do we how do we manage growth in a in a useful way? And how do we maintain some of those core values that make us an attractive place to live knows Brody talking about her Barbershop and grow smart enough to take 3 days off so we can go out. Hunting or fishing or just enjoying the woods? How many people interested ounce during the peak season weather that's the winter or the summer the reasons they moved up to Ely or Cook County or down to Lanesboro to sort of enjoy that environment. Once you get hooked into the tourist trade. Those are your Peak seasons and if you're going to make a dollar you're going to have to work awfully hard at that time. So, you know, it's true that individual is also true for the community. I was just another tourist Community earlier this week and they were talking about recreational opportunities and every recreational opportunity identified was for Outsiders there. No public beaches. There were no things that were a very few things I should say they were available for local residents to use do they work all geared for addressed economy and not open to local participation. And so the quality of life actually for the year-round residents had gone down not up and I think that's part of what I mean about the difference between Change and development change means things aren't going to stay the same development means there's some intentional positive outcome for what's happening to our community. Gene from Ely on the telephone with us. Good afternoon Gene. We still got you on the line. Our phone number is one 800-537-5252. If you would like to give us a call, that would be great one 800-537-5252. You've been throwing the name Bill heading out a lot here. I've got bills standing right here with me wants to make some comment. Yes. Thank you. And hi Jim and everyone here development would like to talk about the community and economic development Bill knows he's a member way back of the LA area Development Council in that back to the records. Go back to the 1910s or something where Economic Development was an issue with the community. It's been alive and well, we are developing just back up to Ely area Association and councils that is an area why the economic and Community Development organization of about 30 members and it ranges from business people run across the board and the purpose. I'll read one of our classic. We do have a vision statement and it's very important because it came from this group about four years ago. It is the Eid a vision is to work cooperatively to create Economic Opportunity for a stable talk about that and diversified we talked about that economy. And here's the key part that's always in the equation y mean. Painting or quality of life. And that is the issue. We work towards constantly what's happening in the in the recent development. We're bringing fiber optics coming to Ely Minnesota. This was not a plan in the year in the Years passed marketable up for a market standpoint. The other providers don't see it as a good Market, but we convinced them that really is a good market. And so we have fiber optics coming up here. We have a hybrid cable modem system coming up here this year in 1998. What does that do for us that does everything the rest of the world are saying telecommunications you can live in Ely Minnesota in a business park. You can have your business in the business park on a trout lake on a recreational trail system that includes skiing hiking walking biking snowmobiling. This is our business park. It doesn't look like a business like I got to tell people these lobster for sale. They keep thinking it's it's our business park we have this Billboard that have their internet address www.zoosk.com if you're selling everything from from me that zips to telecommunicating with the Department of Revenue doing the exact same operations. They do in st. Paul in Ely Minnesota. We have 50 people appear in the Department of Revenue. We just going to build a 2.2 million-dollar new building up here in the business part hooked up the fiber optics. And so the other side the back office operations, we have that capability. We are ready for the businesses down in the cities and where those come up. Thank you so much. We have a cold from Duluth on the line with us. Good afternoon. Call good afternoon. My question dovetails nicely. I think with what he was just speaking about a I I didn't catch his name because I was on hold. But what what what hard data do you have showing that growth could or would take place in the Ely area specifically apart from tourism just due to technological changes the T1 lines and then that's not the modem lies that he's talking about. I like the I think that it's going to have a tremendous impact because irregardless of where this place sits and it's very fortunate to sit on the edge of a 2 million acre Wilderness, but it's got a quality of life. It's a good place to come to do business good place to come to live safe place a clean place you talked about John in the Twin Cities about beaches for private people, but not for the public. We're blessed with beautiful Recreation areas here. I think that people are going to come here to do their business on the neck because it's a nice place to live. Thank you for your call. We're going now over to Fargo where Wayne is waiting on the line with us. Good afternoon Wayne. Good morning, Colorado and Aspen, Colorado. And I think it down up there really needs to be proactive about their zoning. So when they do recover some of their population, you said they'd gone down in town it got kind of set up an aspen where it literally that the people worked in the town have been driven out by really super high price doors. They couldn't afford houses in town anymore and he ended up with a sad little spots where few trailer houses be strung out along the mountain roads. And I mean course I'm talking about Mega hoses that were 10 million 20 million-dollar Horse Parade in the township Apartment 2 bedroom would cost like fifteen hundred a month. You know, it it gone crazy. And I hope that doesn't happen. I think that would be zoning. Where you Well, I think about getting all of the business owners in this town are concerned about just what he's addressing if you tax your Workforce right out of a community. Where do they go? Where do they live do they live 20 miles down the road because the taxes are lower. That's something that I think most of this business Community would like to see addressed by the city fathers by the people that you know can have an impact on that. We need to re-evaluate the text structure when you were talking about this fellow before you said it bought a house in within the 10 years. He's lived lived here. His taxes have gone up six times that was not he wasn't exaggerating the taxes have gone way up in this town the prices of a home. I would say when I moved years ago, When I first got my place in town businesses in town where the buildings in town were running in the 20,000 or you can buy a building in town for 120 thousand bill remembers this. You could buy a house in town for 10 or less sometimes depending on how run-down it was. Now those same homes in businesses are running four times that amount of money easily. So we have a huge inflation Factor going on. But again, the taxes have gone up with that and it is a huge concern that needs to be addressed and Jim Creole isn't that one of the problems in rural Minnesota when the job's come in the people can stay and there is work then there's no place to live right elbow labor pool. Hard to believe in Rome in a soda, but there are jobs that could be filled and right now we don't have the population to do that. And then secondly, where are people going to live and in the issue sometimes isn't so much for people going to live but working people afford to live is the I think you know, we can talk about price of a house going up double triple, whatever that's not very significant if wages keep Pace with that but if you're purchasing power doesn't increase in the cost of housing increases then it says something about where do people who aren't of the top end of economic scale. Where do they live and I think that's it. And that's affecting not just tourist communities are communities that are developing like he liked but you can go to Hawley Minnesota, or you can go to Gaylord and find the same kind of a kind of issue and part of that also relates to It cost more to build a house in rural Minnesota in terms of the gap between what many lenders will consider the equity in that home and the actual building cost. So I think you'll be here when I want to recognize for all Minnesota communities right now. Is this serious challenge in terms of providing affordable housing for if we can put it this way sort of there was a bus where the Common working person and working wages because isn't that always the downside of a tourism economy that people call those on the wage scale lots of times. They're part time. They don't have benefits to go with them. Their marginal wages in part is is aging here Mike was talking about addressing and you were too before we need some young vibrant couples that have lots of ambition to move to this town with her. Or have children or start families. We need more of that kind of community. That's a healthy Community with families all ages. But what price for beauty that's that's the question. There are people that are coming up here that are falling in love with this place. The problem isn't so much with tourism. It seems it seems It's with people that want to live here whether it be on a full-time or part-time basis and are willing to pay darn near any price to do it. How can I deny somebody if you want to pay for X what something's worth? This is America and that's what's happening here. I can't stand being of the city anymore. I don't care. I want out. Well, that's where the tax problem should come the Raisin in the value of that property. The increase taxes should be paid by the the buyer of that piece of property not his neighbor. I could doing today. It's a legislature knows a problem, but they don't have the guts to do what they should do about right now. We're going to go to Maple Grove gym. Go ahead with your question. You have to be to meet manager at the IGA there. Yes. I remember you to a shannan. I'm thinking about quitting my job down here, which I have a good job and trying to get back up the alien and never thought that would happen with every corner in the panini sandwiches that drove you from Ely. Ladies was probably the hardest decade that this town is seeing if you could. About 6 weeks ago, but I think I can still get the job your heart stop and say hi coffee pots always on young people not having anything to stay for which is why they're leaving. I know somebody talk to me about a graduation gathering in one of the northeastern Minnesota towns. It was not a lie, but it wasn't far from here and they asked a show of hands how many of those young people felt that they could find a job or that they plan to stay in their Hometown and the hands that were raised were very much the minority that continue to be a concern. It really is an answer that I can tell you that if I didn't have a job offer. I would even be thinking about it, but I've had some offers to come back up there and then I start thinking about it and what it has to offer, but I want to know it should have been hustling down in the city's trying to make a buck and Patch. They're going crazy here. I think it'd be a lot better to move back up there and have them before Jim Creole. How would you respond to that? The ability to have jobs for anybody of any age and in the other is sometimes you don't have to be careful about our mythology about all kids should stay home. I think the issue isn't whether the graduating class leaves or not. They merely for all kinds of reasons including creating their independence experiencing the world or whatever, but when they start to settle down and create families and engage in that sort of career building or or job building, is it possible for them to come back to their world Community or some other world community? And I think that's that's a serious Challenge and I think one of the outstanding things about Elite is not only is it a beautiful place to live and has that kind of draw for people who grew up there and then people who just passed through but it is outstanding is a community. That's really grappling with its issues when we've listened to the voices of of people from Ely in the Ely area today. I think one of the Lessons Learned for all of us and certainly for myself is the power Local people to really engage in in productive and healthy ways not always agree with each other but have enough passion and concern for their community that they're going to do something about the future that committed in Ely maybe and continues to be a beautiful tourist spot. It really is a very beautiful place to live because of the people who are there and they're willing to take some risks and turns a building that community. not just the p but embracing the new people who have come to town and the new leaders in town. Is that part of the mix here? I think so, you know, I'm a neighbor. I'm in Grand Rapids on the highway on 169 and in you know where I'm sure it is like many other places, you know, if you've been there 20 years in some ways, you're still a newcomer and unless you have a grandparent out in the cemetery. We will kind of wonder about you but yet he lie is allowed a wide range of people in that area to call that place home and I think when you talk to people and they disagree. Because they're strangers are old comers newcomers, they disagree because they're people who care passionately about where they live and it's a great common element and I think that's what helps hold that marvelous Community together. You agree with that quickly Mike very much. So I'm sitting at a table with gentleman. I've known all my life into women that I've known for a few years and no question in my mind. The new people coming in have made an impact for the better stopping by this special Main Street radio broadcast is a production of Minnesota Public Radio are Engineers are records in ski and Cliff Bentley on location Steve Griffith in St. Paul producer. Sarah Meyer executive producers are male summer and Kate Smith Field producer life. Anger. The sigurd Olson essay was read by Dave sleep would like to thank the Chocolate Moose and progress Northwoods company for allowing us to broadcast from this corner today. We invite you to visit the Main Street website go to www.npr.org. You'll be able to hear this program as well as other Main. report the address again www.mpr.org NPR's Main Street coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening Minnesota public radio's Main Street team is life. Anger. Dan Gunderson, Mark style Catherine winter and myself Rachel reabe. I'm Lorna Benson on the next All Things Considered for all the discomfort the July heat brings. It's also the best time to find homegrown sweet corn. That's around the next All Things Considered weekdays at 3 on Minnesota Public Radio. Piano, W FM 91.1 You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. It's 75° a can o w FM 91.1 Minneapolis-Saint Paul Twin Cities weather for today calls for partly sunny skies high of 80° tonight temperature dropping down to 62 degrees in the Twin Cities under partly cloudy skies, and for Saturday warmer and more humid height of 85 the time 1