Co-op provides funds to company for tourism expansion

Co-op provides funds to company for tourism expansion Main Photo

22 Nov 2021

Lake Country Power, News, economic development

A $100,000 loan provided to Jasper Company by its local electric cooperative will go toward attracting more tourism for Ely and the surrounding areas.

Lake Country Power, one of Great River Energy’s 28 member-owner cooperatives, provided the loan through its Revolving Loan Fund, which uses previously received economic development grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fund projects for local businesses that will create or retain rural jobs.

Jasper Company is a family resort and outfitting business located 16 miles northeast of Ely, Minnesota. Owners Don Beans, his wife Joan Kjorsvig-Beans and daughter Cindy Smyka are using the loan to build a 3,800-square-foot guest house on property at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

“The amount of forethought and planning put into the construction process has allowed them to find creative solutions to add an efficiently-built new destination on Jasper Lake near the BWCAW,” said Todd Johnson, manager of energy services and business development at Lake Country Power. “Through the Revolving Loan Fund, we’re able to re-lend federal funding to businesses that meet a set of loan qualifications.”

As one of its member-owner cooperatives, Lake Country Power receives economic development services support from Great River Energy. The team’s staff — made up of Tom Lambrecht, manager; Erin Sparks, economic development lead; and Jeff Borling, economic development lead — works to spur job growth in areas of Minnesota served by its members.

Part of that work includes aiding in business financing assistance and offering financing to support electrification and energy efficiency projects. Additionally, the team offers its expertise by providing technical loan review assistance for co-ops’ internal revolving loan funds, which is what they did for this project between Lake Country Power and Jasper Company.

“This project is another example of how cooperatives like Lake Country Power are ready to support businesses of all sizes, from large industrial members to small family-owned operations like Jasper Company,” said Borling, whose work focuses on economic development in northern Minnesota. “Tourism is an important industry in Minnesota and our traditional resorts are often the backbone of the local economy. We hope Jasper Company’s expansion attracts more visitors to the Ely and surrounding areas so they can see all of what this region has to offer."

Photo caption: Lake Country Power recently awarded a $100,000 Revolving Loan to Jasper Company to help fund the addition of a new guest home at the resort. Pictured (from left): Cindy Smyka of Jasper Company; Todd Johnson, LCP’s manager of energy services and business development; Tracy Peterson Wirtanen, LCP’s chief financial officer; Mike Forsman, LCP’s District 2 director; Greg Schulzetenberg, LCP’s manager of community relations and marketing; and Don Beans of Jasper Company.