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Boreal Community Media

Borderland businesses suffer as lawmakers push for open borders

Feb 26, 2021 06:29AM ● By Editor
Photo: KBJR-TV

By Natalie Grant of KBJR-TV - February 25, 2021

Reopen the border. That is the plea from many northern Minnesota businesses and now Congressman Pete Stauber.

They're part of a growing push to let nonessential travelers drive back and forth between the US and Canada, which has not been allowed in almost a year.

Ryden's manager Jaime Spry said business at the Grand Portage store has been slow.

"Yeah, without having Canadians, our business is lacking," said Spry.

Ryden's is positioned just miles from the border. The closure has taken away a large portion of their customers, stopping for souvenirs or other services before crossing the border.

"We didn't get the tourists, or fisherman, or the hunters, or people going up to enjoy their time in Canada like we usually do," said Spry.

It's not just Ryden's.

Across the country, there are businesses on the border that rely on people traveling back and forth.

That's why Congressman Pete Stauber is now advocating for a reopening.

"Those businesses that have been closed now for over a year because of the pandemic, and they can't open because there's no business," said Rep. Stauber.

Rep. Stauber recently sent a letter to President Biden, asking him to urge Canada's Prime Minister to allow nonessential travel once again. He said it's not just about business, but also people who own property on both sides of the border.

"They go to their cabins, and they will be all by themselves or with their family they have been with in their homes for almost a year," said Rep. Stauber.

His said push now hs support on both sides of the aisle.

"There is representation from both the republican and democratic side all across the Northern tier," said Stauber. "We're all in this together, and we all agree that we need to open up the borders and allow that commerce."

It is a push Ryden's hopes is successful, because they fear they won't survive another year of border restrictions.

"Any opportunity for people to be able to go up, go to their cabins. Any opportunity for Canadians to come down and do whatever commerce they are doing is a huge deal for us," said Spry.

During a typical year, Ryden's tells us they usually have about 15 employees.

Right now, they're down to five.

Recently, the Canadian Government announced the border closure will be extended to April 21.

To see the video version of this report and related articles, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.

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