S&P has it right, Ely’s economy is still struggling

A report on Ely’s economy shows what those of us who work and live here already know. Things are pretty tough right now.
Standard and Poors Global Ratings stated: “we consider Ely’s economy weak.” That pretty much sums it up. No sugar coating, just the truth.
Ely mayor Chuck Novak pointed out a report that showed population declines in Ely, Winton and the surrounding townships. Another report showed the number of customers in the city’s utility service area is declining.
We like optimism as much as the next person but there needs to be a basis of understanding that where we are now is not where we want to be. Looking at Ely through rose colored glasses might make people feel better but it ignores our current situation.
The struggle for this area has been to attract young families with good paying jobs. We have too many situations where mom and/or dad are working multiple jobs and still ending up collecting government assistance just to survive.
There are signs that we have people who believe things will get better. Give credit to the Otts for investing in numerous buildings in the commercial district. They have been able to buy at the right price and then use local contractors to bring the buildings back up to code and ready to be leased.
Several of those buildings have been leased by viable businesses including Insula, Two Gringos and Crapola. That’s a good start. People need to understand, however, that there are still too many empty storefronts and empty homes.
We all have enjoyed seeing the State Theater marquee being repaired, repainted and relit. But there is no immediate timeline to start selling popcorn and showing the latest releases on the big screen.
No matter what happens in the future, the Otts have done a very nice job of fixing old buildings and bringing them back to their historic look. This has created temporary jobs and to borrow a phrase, put lipstick on the pig. But we have yet to see top end jobs being created in Ely.
If anything we have lost the very jobs we need. With the vocal minority working to stop any proposed mining projects, companies like Twin Metals have laid off workers. Instead of having families of geologists in the area, we have more homes for sale and fewer people on the Census list. Doesn’t look like that will change by Christmas. Luckily we have more motels than mangers.
Standard and Poors is correct in its assessment. Ely’s economy is still weak. We don’t have enough people here who have good paying jobs. Each summer we have a need for people to work at tourism related businesses. These are temporary positions that don’t buy fuel oil in November or pay the rent in January.
Those are the facts, as ugly as they may seem. Pass the lipstick.