The second thing, which you can listen for during the Daily Circuit special is, a choice between a couple models for the future. Does International Falls want to become Ely/Grand Marais or Thief River Falls/Roseau? One is a tourism-outfitter-outdoors approach and the other relies on creation of a new home-grown manufacturing base.
Or can it be both to some degree, with a diverse economy that relies on various approaches.
Hi Diane. You're right, it's a modern approach to look for diversity in the economy. Not to just rely on one thing.
I got the sense while I was there that more people are thinking that way. Yes, there's a future in the wood products industry, but there are other options to consider, too.
I heard that a lot, Tom. That if you have a lot of different types of jobs, a dip in one sector isn't so hard to weather.
So it's a lot of little things, not just one big thing. That's hard when you see such a successful "big thing" still operating and providing lots of good jobs.
Yet, you have people like RaeAnne Conat and Stephanie Heinle, who are running small businesses in town that employ people. Their success seems to be inspiring others.
Another thing I felt (ok that's 3) was the pull of the place. It's true almost everywhere to some degree -- people grow up in a place and develop strong ties. But, talking to both kids and adults I thought that was even stronger than in some places. The hunting culture, a sense of independence. You could feel the attachment, which could translate into something if opportunities are there.
Chatting w/ Mike Ward from Voyageur's a little later in the hour!
Sue, I heard the same thing while there. It seems that people are starting to embrace the park, after its controversial beginning in the 1970s. I spoke with a local who has started an outfitting business. He said he's one of the first in the area. He's optimistic that he'll make a living from the park at some point in the near future.
Mike Ward hopes to increase traffic to the park. He thinks it could be a good driver for the economy.
Tim, the comparison to the coal fields is interesting. Have you seen any place pull off an effective transformation? Or still all works in progress?
Melissa, people bring up Ely as an example of a place that has embraced the natural wonder next door. Do you think International Falls should be more like Ely?
One of the complaints about a tourist-based economy is that the jobs are often low-paying or seasonal. They aren't the kind of jobs people have grown used to at the mill.
I heard mention of a brew pub!
Jenell Feller just brought up in the Daily Circuit special the hope that a home-grown industrial base is the ticket -- the Roseau, Thief River Falls idea.. That often seems like lightning striking to me, but it obviously happens. I wonder how a place increases the odds of that.
Speaking of money, anybody know of any Kickstarter projects in International Falls? Bemidji started a brewery that way.
The fact that International Falls is so far from other sizable cities is an issue. It makes it hard to draw a manufacturer that might ship physical goods elsewhere. And yet the city is near this very busy rail crossing.