Countywide Chamber of Commerce introduced at Business Network Luncheon

The focus of a Business Networking Luncheon at Cook County 
Higher Education on March 28, 2012 was the creation of a countywide 
Chamber of Commerce. Higher Ed Business Training Coordinator Jim Boyd 
welcomed a large group to lunch at Higher Ed, saying he envisioned “a 
full community working together for a common cause.”  He said he 
hoped the new initiative could break through some of the “hearty 
skepticism” that has been known to exist in Cook County.
Lutsen Resort owner Scott Harrison and Lutsen Mountains co-owner 
Charles Skinner were the featured speakers. Harrison shared some 
rather depressing statistics regarding Cook County’s economy, which 
he described as stagnant.
Arrowhead Outdoor and Almost Home Appliances owner Kim Linnell was 
asked what he thought of the Grand Marais Chamber of Commerce becoming
a countywide entity.  He said he has been a Grand Marais Chamber 
member for six years, and in that time, Linnell said they have seen 
local business decline and the chamber has lost members.  He said the 
Grand Marais Chamber is very interested in expanding to include the 
whole county.
Grand Marais Hotel Company owner Barrney Peet said he saw the county 
go through tremendous growth in the 1980s.  A lot of new things such 
as Aspen Lodge and Best Western were constructed during that time, he 
said, but there came a point when the community didn’t want to see 
any more growth.  He said he hopes today’s community does, because a 
good business climate supports the school, the hospital, and the arts.
Charles Skinner spoke and said they are hoping the new chamber, which 
will focus on helping businesses throughout the county and will have 
representation from all business sectors, can generate enough dues to 
pay for a half-time director.  They are intending to create a 501(c)
(6), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of business.  
He said one thing they would do is look for funding sources such as 
grants that could help build local business and industry.  A chamber 
of commerce tends to have a lot of credibility with the legislature, 
he added.
The committee organizing the new chamber will meet with public 
officials this month and they plan to hold a community meeting in May 
to inform and get input from the public.