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Boreal Community Media

Business and civic partnerships highlighted at Chamber Annual Luncheon

Jun 12, 2019 03:31PM ● By Editor
Luncheon attendees enjoyed lunch and spectacular views at the Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains on Wednesday.  All Photos:  Boreal Community Media

From Boreal Community Media - June 12, 2019

Approximately 60 Cook County Business and Civic Leaders heard an update on various initiatives the Cook County Chamber has been working on in recent months at the Annual Luncheon Wednesday held in the Summit Chalet at Lutsen Mountains.

The attendees were welcomed by Chamber Board Chair Karen Blackburn of Cook County Higher Education.  Jim Boyd, Chamber Executive Director, then presented an overview of key activities the Chamber and its members have been engaged in over the past year.

 Cook County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Boyd addressed the luncheon.

Among the programs that Boyd highlighted were:
  • Lobbying efforts at the State Capital on behalf of Cook County interests by the Chamber's professional representation which resulted in the State of Minnesota granting permanent recurring funding for Cook County Higher Education.
  • Boyd discussed efforts by the Chamber to help prepare local business for dealing with disruptions for the two year Highway 61 renovation project by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Grand Marais Business Coalition is comprised of 20-30 members and is actively involved in providing input on signage, parking ordinance changes and other efforts to prepare for the construction. 
  • The efforts by several Chamber members led by Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority Director Mary Sonnis to find a new source for seasonal and full-time employees in Cook County due to the limited number of international worker visas available in recent years.  This has included visits to Puerto Rico to recruit workers and the hiring of Laura Muus as Workforce Recruitment Specialist.  Muus is a native of Peru who speaks Spanish as a first language and will be working with Chamber members to secure workers from Puerto Rico and other high unemployment areas for jobs in Cook County.
  • Kelsey Kennedy of Cook County Higher Education updated the audience on the North Shore Culinary Education program in partnership with Hibbing Community College.  Students interested in the culinary arts can now receive a one year Culinary Arts diploma over two terms (34 weeks) and a certificate after 17 weeks at affordable tuition rates.  This will help groom future chefs and cooks for employment in Cook County.  Students have been recruited at regional high schools and job fairs.  Classes are held at the new state of the art culinary facilities at Cook County High School.
  • Boyd shared an update on the annual Chamber canoe raffle.  Entering its third year as a fund-raiser for the Great Places community improvement project, the canoe raffle raised $13,000 in 2018.  In a new twist, this year's raffle canoe was handmade by Cook County community members at North House Folk School in partnership with Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply.  Raffle tickets for the Canoe drawing are available at several businesses around Cook County and the drawing will be held in October.
Jim Boyd (left) with Visit Cook County's Linda Jurek.

Towards the end of the luncheon, Boyd introduced Linda Jurek, Executive Director of Visit Cook County.  Jurek talked about the strong success of the collaborative efforts of the tourism associations and its vital contribution to a local economy 85% dependent on tourism.  She said it also requires strong partnerships between all local businesses and the tourism associations.  Jurek announced that Visit Cook County will be underwriting a $30,000 sponsorship to the Cook County Chamber of Commerce to benefit the members and local communities.

In closing, Boyd thanked Chamber members and said, "A Chamber is more than a job, it is a lifestyle.  It is about building a community, what we do is about supporting all of us."
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