GoNorth to open welcome center, marketplace in Emily
GoNorth is going above and beyond to help out local entrepreneurs and welcome visitors to the area.
Last year, five communities came together to form the GoNorth initiative after receiving a grant from the Initiative Foundation and the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. The cities of Fifty Lakes and Emily joined with Fairfield, Little Pine and Crooked Lake/Outing townships to promote healthy and prosperous living for all residents and visitors.
The group's newest endeavor is The Landing Welcome Center and Marketplace, which will open May 1. The building, located on Highway 6 near the south end of Emily, will have two primary functions. The first is to serve as a resource for visitors and potential new residents to learn about the area.
"We'll have advertising for local businesses and clubs and churches. The restaurants can put their current weekly specials at The Landing," said Jan Mosman, GoNorth co-chair. "And then there will be a large map of the whole area that we're getting mounted on a table."
The "marketplace" function of the building will provide local entrepreneurs with a retail space to sell their goods, whether it be homemade jewelry, wood carvings or repurposed antiques.
The goal is to attract business people who might not otherwise be able to afford a retail space, and the group plans to accomplish this by offering reduced rent for the off-months - March, April and October through December - and no rent for January and February.
"There's not the activity up here from November to March," Mosman said. "It just doesn't happen."
The Landing will also promote cooperation among business owners through its setup.
"We're going to design the building so that all of the vendors' items work together rather than having little cubbies," Mosman said. "And we will move things around so that when people walk in there will be something that will attract their eye even if they've been there ... the week before."
Vendors who volunteer to staff the store during the week can receive reduced rent.
"If you don't have the time to do that or you're not normally living in the area," Mosman said, "then we've got some vendors who will just pay more to have their items for sale there."
Though The Landing will mainly serve as a welcome center and marketplace, shared community space will also be available in the form of office work stations, a printer and a meeting room. The whole building will have free Wi-Fi.
The GoNorth group still has a lot of work to do before The Landing can open.
"The outside of (the building) doesn't look like much, but the owner and we are going to give it a facelift and work hard to make it look really inviting," Mosman said, noting the building is a 1920s house owned by Keith Findlay, who is working closely with the group.
The local communities have also banded together to help GoNorth with funding. The city of Emily agreed to give The Landing free sewer and water for the first year, and Fifty Lakes has donated the time of its clerk/treasurer to be the fiscal agent for the project.
"The cities are stepping up to the plate and helping where they can," Mosman said. "We want to be able to make it and not have to go back to the five city governments ... and say, 'Oh please, we need more grant money.'"
For that reason, the group has started a GoFundMe page in hopes of gaining funds to cover the first couple months of utilities and other general expenses, along with some building upgrades.
"What we'd like to is have an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant restroom, which will mean a couple revisions to the house," Mosman said. "And it will mean a ramp at the front door, and so if we can raise money, that's one of the things we're going to do."
The group's GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/GoNorth-TheLanding.
More information on The Landing Welcome Center and Marketplace or the GoNorth initiative can found at GoNorthmn.org and on the group's Facebook page, GoNorth MN.
The Landing LLC is a company working for GoNorth as a nonprofit.