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North House gets IRRRB grant to help purchase Dockside Fish Market.

Jan 26, 2018 06:04AM ● By Editor
By Brian Larsen of the Cook County News Herald - January 26, 2018

North House Folk School Director Greg Wright called from Eveleth, Minnesota on Wednesday, January 24 with exciting news. The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) had just voted to give a $200,000 grant to Northouse that will be used to help with the purchase of Dockside Fish Market and property that adjoins the North House campus. 

“This donation is big for us. It’s huge and a key step forward in our attempt to purchase Dockside,” said Wright.

Dockside is owned and operated by Harley and Shele Tofte. Harley is one of the few remaining commercial fishermen on the North Shore. He runs his fishing business from the site, netting fish and processing them at the fish house on the dock while Shele manages the restaurant. The couple began a conversation with North House about the sale of their property and business last spring.

North House still has to raise some more funds to be able to go through with the sale, said Wright, but he added, “We want the public to know that we plan to keep the restaurant open and definitely want to find someone who will continue to run a commercial fishing venture from there.”

The Cook County Economic Development Authority (EDA) submitted the grant application to the IRRRB for North House. Mary Somness, the EDA Director, and former IRRRB employee was with Wright on the phone call. “The EDA is 100 percent involved in this and behind North House. We are here to help North House any way that we can,” she said.

North House just finished its 20th year in operation and continues to grow. The organization was inspired by Scandinavian folkehojskolers, which were developed in Denmark in the mid-1800s. Its mission is to “enrich lives and build community teaching traditional northern crafts in a student-centered learning environment that inspires the hands, the heart and the mind.”

The school brings instructors from around the world to teach traditional northern crafts, and students come from throughout the country and beyond the U.S. borders to attend a wide variety of classes.

According to an economic impact study by The Northspan Group from Duluth, in 2008, its tenth year, North House contributed approximately $6.1 million to the local economy. By 2016 that number had grown to $10,648,395.

Growth hasn’t occurred in just the warmer months, but year round. The total number of students in 2016 totaled 2,719 when catalog and non-catalog students were counted.

The IRRRB is a State of Minnesota development agency located in Eveleth whose mission is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota.

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