High hopes for Ely in 2020

Looking back on 2019 we realized there was some news we’d rather forget. Looking ahead to this year, we’re hoping the headlines are much kinder to the Ely area.
Losing the Shopko store was a major hit to the area. Consumers lost a place to pick up items not available at other Ely retailers. The Ely Echo lost a major advertiser since we were the main distribution method for the company’s weekly fliers.
Not having a place like Shopko in town hurt every retailer. Faced with a need and a lack of a store to get it from people will travel out of town or take to the internet to spend their money. Those dollars then never circulate in Ely to help our local economy. They are lost forever.
One of the two dollar stores closed as well, although this could be seen as a blessing in disguise since dollar stores often have a negative impact by taking sales from other local businesses and by not contributing back to the community. Even Shopko had a grant program that poured thousands of dollars back into worthy causes. The dollar stores don’t give back and that hurts a community.
In 2019 we also had the Forest Service again making it more difficult for people to go on trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. If the agency ever really wanted to find out why fewer and fewer people are taking trips, a look in the mirror would be revealing.
By removing the lottery system and relying on users to have an equal playing field via the internet to get certain permits, the Forest Service violated its own rules and regulations to provide for public comment and review before implementing such a major change.
This didn’t help Ely, it hurt our local outfitters and resort owners, plus we saw major complaints leveled by the veterans community against the Forest Service for how the motorized permits are distributed.
We believe time will held these wounds and we have high hopes that 2020 will bring greater fortune to the Ely area. Filling the empty Shopko store would be a good start, any takers? How about getting the company that handles the BWCA permits to relocate here?