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Cook County Chamber of Commerce: Great Place Project Grants Awarded

Jun 01, 2020 10:31AM ● By Editor

From the Cook County Chamber of Commerce - June 1, 2020

Great Place Project (GPP) grants have been made to seven Cook County entities in an effort to offer the community something positive to enjoy this difficult summer, Jim Boyd, executive director of the Cook County Chamber, has announced. The grants come from the Cook County Business and Civic Partnership, the 501c3 arm of the Chamber. 

“When the pandemic first shut everything down so completely, we paused the GPP process because it did not seem possible that these projects could be completed this year,” Boyd said. “Even getting the necessary signatures on the grant checks involved a great deal of effort.

“But as things progressed and settled into something of a routine, we reevaluated,” Boyd said. “It seemed a good thing to go ahead with the grants as a positive celebration of community. Heaven knows, our Cook County community can use a few celebratory moments this summer.”

“We did not have a great deal of grant money available this year,” Boyd said. “Ticket sales on the wood-canvas canoe we offered last year were modest. It was a great canoe, and creating it was a terrific group effort. But  few people actually grasp the significance of wood-canvas construction and its iconic place in the history of the Boundary Waters.

“Fortunately,” he said, “we had three anonymous donors come forward with $3,000, which allowed us to top up our grant fund and also have enough left to pay for construction of a new canoe, which is being built by Josh Tolkan, North House boatbuilder extraordinaire. 

“We still need to figure out how to do a raffle on the new canoe. We have sold a few tickets, but it seems impossible to sell enough this summer to justify a raffle this fall – especially for the incredible, one-of-a-kind canoe Josh is building. So we are contemplating a two-year raffle: selling some tickets this summer and requesting those who purchase them to hold on to them until the fall of 2021, when the winner will be drawn. There will be more to come on this topic shortly.’

The seven projects which received funding for 2020 include:

  • North Shore Winery for a whimsical metal bike rack crafted by metal artist Greg Mueller. 
  • Joy & Co. for creation of a decorative, welcoming front entrance on First Avenue West.
  • Sivertson Gallery for plantings and other elements of a welcoming Wisconsin Street entrance.
  • Cook County Community Center for materials to finish  playground for tots.
  • Chik Wauk Museum/Gunflint Trail Historical Society for new trailhead signs to help visitors navigate the Chik Wauk trail system.
  • Cook County Historical Society for plantings to enhance Bill Bally Blacksmith Shop and Johnson Heritage Post.
  • Bethlehem Lutheran for a publicly accessible outdoor patio/seating area near pollinator garden and monarch butterfly way station. 

"This is the first year of operation for a Great Place Project advisory committee," Boyd said. Its members are Jack Stone, Beth Poliquin, Gary Latz and Duane Hasegawa. “Having these folks available to help made the process a great deal more fun,” Boyd said. “I am hopeful that the committee’s energy and fresh ideas will help improve the Great Place Project so it will be even more sustainable going forward.

Jim Boyd
Executive Director
Cook County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 805 15 North Broadway
Grand Marais, MN 55604
218-387-2079 (office)
218-387-2466 (home)
218-370-9665 (cell)