Pandemic. Prior to this current crisis, this was a word heard only in science fiction movies. But the COVID-19 pandemic that’s engulfed the globe has affected nearly all facets of our life – even here in the Northland. The impacts on many local businesses have been profound, and with the Canadian border closed for non-essential traffic for both north-bound tourists, and southbound Canadian shoppers, those impacts are magnified. While the overall number of positive test cases in Koochiching County remains relatively low, businesses, local governments, schools, and families, are all having to adjust to this new reality. On the positive side, it’s late summer and the weather has cooperated to allow people to get out on the lakes and recreate to provide some normalcy. In fact, some resort and houseboat owners are seeing recovering numbers as people look for alternatives to vacation closer to home. Life goes on, albeit with practicing safe distancing, wearing masks, and following new protocols.
In this Summer/Fall newsletter, we’ll provide an update on projects moving forward in the County, highlight a local business that’s creating a high-speed digital workspace, meet a couple that moved their family here and made the most of getting involved, and feature a new school club activity that’s putting young people on the water.
From all of us here at the KEDA Office, we want everyone to be safe and do their part to help us get through this.
Projects Moving Forward.
Highway 53 Re-construction. Construction began in early July for the first phase of a two-year 19-block reconstruction of Highway 53 in International Falls – the central business corridor into the community. The $12.9 million dollar project was planned as a major pavement rehabilitation, infrastructure, and streetscape enhancement effort aimed at improving pedestrian accessibility, safety, and aesthetics. The construction is scheduled to be concluded in October of 2021 with final landscaping following in 2022.
City of International Falls Road Projects. As part of an ambitious infrastructure update, the City of International Falls is rebuilding/re-surfacing 82 blocks of streets throughout the city. The construction should be completed this Fall and is part of an ongoing infrastructure assessment and investment that the city has committed to and is supporting through a city-wide sales tax. The road projects will total over $2.1 million in 2020 and are anticipated to cost $2.5 million in 2021.
Big Falls City Park Expansion Project. The City Park in Big Falls is undergoing a long-awaited expansion adjacent to its current location along the rapids of the Big Fork River. The $1.2 million project includes a new bath house, an expansion from 18 to 33 camp sites including RV sites and camper cabins as well as a small river access for canoes and kayaks. The project, which should be completed later this year was paid in large part by state grants. The popular park is also complimented by a horse-camp site located across Highway 71 along the Big Fork River.
Airport runway reconstruction. The re-construction of the Falls Airport’s taxiway will be completed this Fall as part of a three-year runway reconstruction project. The $15.8 million project widened and re-built the taxiway to allow it to be used as a temporary runway next summer when the remainder of the main runway will be re-built. The project is funded through Federal, State, and local dollars.
For more information on the KEDA and Koochiching County, visit our website – www.businessupnorth.com.