The last paragraph of the Ely Echo's editorial of June 8, 2013, asks “What are you for?” That is an eminently reasonable question. We have repeatedly described in print, in public hearings, and in conversation, what we are for. We are pleased to gather many of our thoughts here, in one place.
We are for a strong, sustainable economy that is not subject to the whims of international metals markets and job-killing mining automation. We are for healthy communities and for water that does not threaten health—of bugs, fish, or people. We are for population growth and economic growth in Ely and the surrounding area. We support a strong, relentless campaign by Ely leaders in business and government to attract new enterprises and new people. We support a concerted effort to inform the world about the water, air, forested landscape, and energetic community that make Ely such an attractive place to live, to raise children, to work, and to do business. We are for continued growth in Ely’s tourism businesses; as Bill Forsberg reported recently, Ely area lodging tax receipts have been climbing steadily, with few exceptions, since 2000. We are for taking advantage of the repeated recognition of the BWCAW as one of the world’s most desirable outdoor destinations. We are for strong, well-funded schools. We are for the Farmer's Market, Tuesday Night Live, the Fourth of July Parade, the Blueberry Festival, hockey and Nordic ski team fund-raising activities, and the myriad other community events that make Ely strong.
We also are for a community that values people from the Ely area who have worked for years or decades to build and sustain businesses and to employ people; that values people who moved here and started sustainable businesses that provide employment and economic activity; that values people who have invested substantial portions of their savings, time, and energy in buying or building vacation and retirement homes here; that values people who grew up in Ely and moved away to Duluth, to Minneapolis, or to Europe, but who came back here to retire; that values people who moved here to work or to retire and who spend their money in local businesses, and who serve the schools, the athletic programs, the Food Bank, the Resource Center, and the arts programs. We are for an organized approach to providing support for start-up businesses and for assisting existing businesses to grow. We are for the kind of hard work and attitude and thoughtfulness reflected in the June 7 editorial in the Timberjay about Mary Mathews and the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund. We are for objective study of the real costs and real benefits of sulfide-ore mining; the Skurla study from UMD cautioned that policy makers need to be careful: “Policy recommendations should be based on the ‘big picture’ of total impact, and a cost-benefit analysis would be needed to assess the environmental, social, and governmental impacts of ferrous and non-ferrous mining in the State.”
We are for politicians who will listen to and represent all their constituents—not just those with big checkbooks and cynical promises of riches with no acknowledgment of poison and destruction.
We are for spirited, respectful public discussion about these values and about the best way to continue to move the Ely area forward.