If Ely were to get a new business…

If Ely were to get a new business, what should it be? A Facebook post by Elizabeth Thunstrom on What’s Up Ely this past week quickly generated over 140 responses.
Being Facebook, there were comments from comedians and would be comedians but there were also thoughtful hopes and wishes.
Our unscientific look at this far from scientific poll revealed some commonalities.
Food: Greek restaurant, authentic Mexican, drive through burritos, McDonald’s, bringing back A&W and even a business that just served soup but many varieties including chili. Sushi was listed several times including “Drive through Live Bait and Sushi.”
Clothing: “A clothing store, middle priced for quality,” was one post. Another said a fleet store with clothing for work, semi-casual, scrubs and seasonal. Our favorite was: “Some place to buy socks and underpants.”
Daycare: This generated some interesting responses including no one disagreeing on the need. Happy Days has started providing child care services at First Lutheran Church. But one person noted childcare needs to be more than 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for working parents and that along with housing, child care is a barrier for young families who want to live in Ely. Happy Days could expand its offerings with a person involved noting, “Happy Days will be transitioning to a full childcare center - all ages and expanded hours. Hopeful for summer 2023…We are working really hard to make a full child care center for our community.”
Entertainment: There were some interesting suggestions here. Something indoors for young kids like Adventure Zone in Duluth was one answer, brothel was another. But also listed were water park, mini golf, outdoor movies on a floating big screen on Shagawa and a multi-use indoor dome facility
Employment: Mining jobs were the main response, specifically PolyMet and Twin Metals.
Services: There was only one post in this category but it included plumbers, electricians and heating repair. While we have good businesses now in those areas, we’ve heard plenty of frustrations from people who have been told they would have to wait for weeks or not being able to get their calls returned.
Other: Walmart was mentioned and immediately shot down by one person who said they “destroy small business and downtown areas.” There was a reply saying that suggestion was insidious and it was bad enough we have “Welcome to Ely, Dollar Store on your left.” Another dentist was mentioned several times. Setting aside the Walmart issue, a home goods store was suggested. One person posted, “Privatized building inspection.” And to complete the trifecta, a Moose Center, something Babbitt has discussed in the past to add to our Wolf Center and Bear Center.
We live in Ely knowing it can’t be all things and have everything we need. With tourism being so seasonal we just don’t have the year-round buying power to attract certain businesses. Providing high paying jobs to extract the minerals located here is an achievable goal to making Ely a better place to live.
Once those jobs are here, the question posed on Facebook may receive far more scrutiny from a different audience: Those who are actually planning to open a new business here.