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On the Move BUT STANDING STRONG

Bemidji continues its transformation into Northern Minnesota’s regional center

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BEMIDJI HAS THE ‘IT’ FACTOR Community has evolved from resort town to innovative, regional center

By Matt Cory help foster not just development, but smart developmcory@bemidjipioneer.com ment, in the city. Dave Hengel doesn’t exactly know what “it” is. All that work is turning many people’s perceptions But he knows Bemidji has it. of Bemidji from a small, rural, sleepy resort town to an As the executive director of Greater Bemidji, a emerging business and population center in the northregional economic development organization, Hengel woods. A community that boasted several companies has seen how Bemidji has grown over the past decade, on the 2015 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing compamore specifically, the past five years. nies in the country by Inc. magazine. “Bemidji has a buzz right now, and I would say it’s a statewide buzz, that says ‘Wow this is an emerging Challenges remain regional center that has figured it out,” he said. “And That’s not to say there hasn’t been, or won’t be, people are trying to figure out what the ‘it’ is.” growing pains. A growing population brings a chalAs the largest city in the immediate area, and a col- lenge to infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, as lege town, as well as the county seat, Bemidji has well as pressure on the housing market and wages, always been a regional center. But just in the past few both of which have been felt throughout the communiyears, Bemidji has evolved into being recognized as one ty. More population can put a strain on social services, of the fastest and more innovative cities and regions as well, and lead to an increase in the crime rate. in Minnesota. Hengel said he sees that as one of the And it’s not just local boosters saying biggest challenges facing Bemidji — a that, either. growing income gap in the popula“But while you weren’t looktion. “We all have to be sensitive ing, this town of 14,500 people to that,” he said. — and surrounding population How physical growth and of another 65,000 — have development is managed also 160,000 become one of the most is an issue. Rampant urban dynamic regions in Minsprawl can make one town 135,000 nesota — if not, in fact, the look just like another — most dynamic. an “Anytown, USA.” But 110,000 “It may be the best-kept at the same time, there’s secret in the state.” been a perception that 85,000 Those accolades come Bemidji, especially on the from Twin Cities Business’ government level, is not 60,000 Gene Rebeck, the magabusiness friendly and is sti35,000 zine’s northern corresponfling growth. dent. The business journal Finding that balance is a 10,000 featured Bemidji in a 17-page constant challenge, but that 15 mi. radius 30 mi. radius 60 mi. radius spread in its February issue. can be a good thing, as well. 2000 2010 2016 2021 (projected) So what is driving Bemidji’s People in Bemidji have strong growth? Hard work and people, feelings about protecting the natuHengel and others say. And while it ral amenities, the outdoors, the lakes, Sourc . e: Greater Bemidji , Inc may seem like the growth has exploded the trees, the wildlife ... the way of life in just the past two or three years, there’s here. And that tension between wanting to been a steadiness that sometimes flies under the radar. grow but also wanting to keep the small-town feel There are multiple community, government and leads to smarter development. private business partners who have had a hand in the “I think Bemidji has been able to capture, and mainemerging growth, building a base Bemidji can stand tain, the essence of its character,” Hengel said of the on and from which to take off. Sure, there’s Hengel’s past few years. Greater Bemidji organization and the Bemidji Area Bemidji’s growth also can’t be seen in just one secChamber of Commerce, but they can’t move the needle tor, such as in retail or manufacturing or even just in just themselves. You need buy-in from many sectors traditional business terms, but rather throughout the of the community, and that is where Bemidji leads the community. That includes several bedrocks of a comway, no pun intended. In fact, efforts such as Bemi- munity, such as health care and education and contindji Leads and the LaunchPad’s entrepreneur meetups ued growth of downtown. and mentorship program, have helped bring in those key partners to set the course. From Sanford Health A center of health to Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical On July 19, Sanford Health of Bemidji held a conCollege to the city and county governments, as well as struction celebration for the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer private business, there has been a coordinated effort to GROWTH, Page 3

Population

Population Growth in the Greater Bemidji Region

About this section

Look around, Bemidji, we are growing. From the growth of the retail sector — there seems to be new businesses popping up around town all the time — to the development of the Sanford Bemidji health campus on the north end of town or the ongoing construction at the South Shore, Bemidji is on the move. And that’s what we wanted to capture in this section. Our goal in this section was to show some of the strides — and the people behind those steps — the community has taken the past few years as Bemidji cements itself as the regional hub for Northern Minnesota. In doing so, we tried to cover as many areas and issues that have driven that growth, as well as some of the challenges and obstacles a community can face as it experiences those growing pains. To move a community forward, you need the people to do it, and we tried to profile some of the people and business ventures in Bemidji helping to drive that growth. By no means is this an exhaustive list — we tried to pull in a cross section of the community — and we simply couldn’t get to everyone who are helping Bemidji move forward. So, you may not read in this section about some of the new or expanding downtown businesses, such as Downtown Meats, who invested and built a large new store, or Karvakko, which in recent years has merged with a regional architecture firm and continues to be at the forefront of engineering in the Upper Midwest. Or even Paul Bunyan Communications and its continued development of the GigaZone, which helps drive not only business infrastructure, but the quality of life for us, the residents. There’s also a bevy of new smaller businesses in town, just take a walk downtown or a drive along Highway 197 and you’ll see them. Just because we didn’t include them here, doesn’t mean we don’t recognize their movement and contributions to the region. We hope you enjoy the section, and please let us know any feedback you have about it. Email us at news@bemidjipioneer.com Happy reading. — Matt Cory, editor


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SOUTH SHORE SURGE By Micah Friez mfriez@bemidjipioneer.com Not long ago, the south shores of Lake Bemidji weren’t home to much. But now, within the past several years, it’s become one of the fastest-growing areas in the city. The Sanford Center opened its doors in late 2010, the DoubleTree and Country Inn hotels followed not long after, and now apartment complexes and luxury condominiums are in the works and under construction. Plus, to top it all off, Bemidji Parks and Recreation opened the new South Shore Park this June — just in time for summer. “That park project started a long time ago, kind of with the whole vision of South Shore,” said Parks and Rec director Marcia Larson. “The minute we opened the park, as long as it has been warm out, it has been really busy. So that tells me that we probably did something right there. We listened to what the community wanted and built a gorgeous beach and bath house.”

Growth

FROM PAGE 2

Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer

Workers from Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. on July 24 at the grounds of the new Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center.

Center, which will open in fall 2018. The $12 million project is the latest investment for the largest health care provider in the region, with more to come in the foreseeable future. In fact, since 2011, Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota has invested $73 million in the Greater Bemidji region, according to information provided to the Pioneer. And in the next five years, the region’s largest employer also anticipates an additional investment of more than $100 million. In just the past few years, growth at the Sanford Bemidji campus on the north side of town and in the region has been steady. Highlights of that growth include adding 35 new health care providers, Sanford Health says, as well as adding 3D mammography to the Edith Sanford Breast Center and opening a specialty nursery for high-risk babies. The growth also isn’t confined to Bemidji, as well, as Sanford has opened a new clinic in Park Rapids, as well as added new services to its facilities in Bagley and Fosston. All told, Sanford Health of Northern Minnesota’s economic impact this past fiscal year (July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017) was $565.5 million. And Sanford anticipates that by fiscal year 2022, that impact is projected to reach $748.1 million. As for the future, Sanford also plans to donate land and up to $10 million to build a Sanford Family Wellness Center & Youth Sports Complex on its Bemidji campus. In addition to the new cancer center, Sanford Bemidji also plans to expand the Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, as well as in other areas. And that means Sanford Bemidji will need to recruit some 50 to 60 new doctors in a variety of fields.

Education leads to success One of the keys to not only fostering new growth, but maintaining it, is through education and training, Hengel said. And Bemidji is poised to handle that at both the primary and secondary education levels. One of the community’s main economic drivers is that of being a college town, and both Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College have made investments and developed new programs the past few years to keep that engine runFaith Hensrud ning. From the renovated $14 million Memorial Hall that opened in August 2015, to the new University Heights student housing complex (near where other housing/retail is expected to occur), BSU and NTC definitely have been part of the construction boom in the city. And BSU continues to work with the Minnesota Legislature on replacing Hagg-Sauer Hall with a modern facility. But their growth also goes beyond the physical, developing new programs and enhancing others to better prepare graduates for an ever-changing world. One of those highlights was a historic transfer agreements between BSU and four Minnesota tribal colleges — Leech Lake Tribal College, Red Lake Nation College, White Earth Tribal and Community College and Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College. After completing their associate of arts, associate of science or associate of applied science degrees at those colleges, students can seamlessly transfer to BSU with junior academic standing. NTC also has developed a certificate program in welding that can be completed in as little as one year, a boon to many regional manufacturers in need of qualified welders. NTC also was granted $29,000 by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota that allows for qualifying students “to pursue free educations in medical coding,” according to a release. BSU and NTC President Faith Hensrud, who took the helm at both institutions in July 2016, said in a statement to the Pioneer that her first year has been exciting and she sees more of that in the future. GROWTH, Page 4

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Bemidji’s South Shore continuing its growing trend

Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji's South Shore developments. Standing beside the beach is the restored bath house, which was built in 1941, and has a sign detailing the history of the South Shore that includes information provided by the Beltrami County Historical Society. It was all made possible after a lake bed clean-up project by the city of Bemidji, paving the way for the latest addition in the South Shore’s stillbuilding momentum. “The council always wanted that to be a beach area,” Larson said. “People can bike there, they can walk there. It’s really fun to see people traveling from Diamond Point up to (Paul Bunyan Park) to South Shore… It’s just amazing.”

And already, Larson has seen it attract even more people to the ever-growing South Shore. “It’s been really, really fun to see all the kids there and all the uses of it,” Larson said. “It’s really fun to see them there at the park and using the beach.” Although all the plans for the South Shore haven’t yet been completed, the active efforts to improve the scene has made an impact in town that will pay dividends in the years to come. “It’s really fun to be involved and try to build what the community wants,” Larson said. “I think it’s worth every cent.”


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“Bemidji State’s enrollment is strong. We are planning for further enrollment growth, with increased emphasis on serving our region’s native peoples, international students and other populations that have been traditionally underserved by higher education,” she said in the statement. “At Northwest Technical College, I’m excited by the energy from Darrin Strosahl, the college’s new academic leader, who will reinforce and expand the college’s vital role in the Bemidji region. The college will continue to add academic programming that supports the needs of employers in the region, as seen with our recent addition of a welding certificate program, while providing opportunities for our students to pursue their educational goals in a way that meets their needs.” That type of partnership between employers and education providers is key to Bemidji’s continued growth and development, Hengel said. It was the impetus behind the development of the Minnesota Innovation Institute, or MI2. Started in 2013, MI2 is a partnership between Greater Bemidji, The Idea Circle, BSU and Northwest Technical College, to create a workforce pipeline for the region. Regional companies such as TEAM Industries, Potlatch and American Crystal Sugar already have worked with MI2 to develop their workforce, Hengel said. And the learning isn’t only for secondary schools, as well. At the high-school level, Bemidji Area Schools recently developed its Career Academies, which are designed to help students explore and take classes in various fields and trades, with a plan toward a two- or four-year degree after high school. There’s also the Students First initiative, which matches a student with a local civic or business leader and a success plan is developed over time that sets academic and post-school goals for the student. Initiatives such as those, and creating a talented and trained workforce, Hengel said, is one of the keys to growing the region’s manufacturing base. And, that in turn, will help lessen that income gap in the region. The way to lower it is with good-paying jobs, he said. $2.5

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LOOKING TO MIX IT UP

FROM PAGE 3

Growth

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Pioneer file photo

Local business owner Mitch Rautio hopes to develop Bemidji's downtown rail corridor making more space for housing and businesses.

Entrepreneur sees smalltown traditions and big-city amenities in Bemidji’s future

By Matthew Liedke mliedke@bemidjipioneer.com Bemidji business owner and developer Mitch Rautio believes a healthy downtown is crucial for a growing city. For that reason, he has a plan in mind to expand the downtown by developing an area that’s long been used for utilities. For several months, Rautio has been in communication with the city of Bemidji to discuss the future of what’s called the ‘rail corridor.’ The site is located just south of the city’s downtown area, extending from Park Avenue Northwest to land near the Mississippi River and is bordered by existing rail lines. The corridor was purchased by the city in 2003 to install a sewer system and other work and the area itself has long been used for industrial purposes. With BemiTech-friendly $2.4 dji’s growth, though, Rautio sees the And those potential in switching from rail to $2.3 good-payresidential. ing jobs also “I have many residential units in $2.2 are bolstered the downtown and there’s definitely a by having the $2.1 need for more,” Rautio said. “The rearight technolson I want to develop that rail corridor ogy infrastruc$2.0 is to support the downtown, too. The ture in place. $1.9 Oftentimes, strength and growth of our downtown is when a company something that’s been my No. 1 goal for $1.8 eyeing a possible our city.” 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 move or expansion Rautio said the buildings he wants on *An adjustment was made in 2013. to Bemidji calls HenIn addition, Dec. 2016 collections are the land, which ranges from 20 to 24 acres estimated based on past years. gel, the first question Sourc of property, include 24 brownstone-style apartis about having a qualified e: Greater Bemidji , Inc. ment buildings and 15 to workforce. While that mostly 20 buildings with space for remains in the top spot, a close No. 2 mixed-use development. GROWTH, Page 5

Millions

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“I want to create taxable property in the city, too,” Rautio said. “Currently, the city has nearly half of its property as non-taxable. So, the more property we can move from non-taxable to taxable is going to help us.” A major reason Rautio said he sees a future in developing Bemidji’s rail corridor is the city’s growing presence on the map. “The growth of the city has a lot to do with its location and its amenities in northern Minnesota,” he said. “People are starting to see that, thanks to technology, they can do work from non-metro areas these days. With all that Bemidji has, people are starting to ask ‘Why wouldn’t I want to live and work up here?’” While Bemidji is expected to continue its upward population trend, though, Rautio said the small-town charm is here to stay. “In Bemidji, some people want to hold on to the small-town tradition and then there are others who want to grow the city with modern technology,” Rautio said. “I think we are going to end up with a mix of that in the city. It will have the growth in the urban areas, but still hold on to that small-town tradition.”

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FROM PAGE 4

question now almost always is “do you have enough broadband?” And Bemidji can answer “yes,” whereas many communities Bemidji’s size may have to answer “kinda.” And that’s directly because of Paul Bunyan Communications, Hengel said. The cooperative investment in developing an all-fiber optic gigabit network is “massive” for attracting and building companies in Bemidji. “It takes that question off the table for us ... it’s huge,” he said. In fact, Hengel said he recently traveled to the Twin Cities area to talk to two companies that are looking at Bemidji specifically because of the broadband capabilities in the region. The Minnesota Legislature has been pushing the past few sessions to help develop the broadband capabilities in Greater Minnesota. It’s a problem that Bemidji doesn’t have.

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TAKING FLIGHT

Come on down Attracting those tech-based companies, and those employe es, also means Bemidji needs to have the amenities to serve those workers. And while most know about Bemidji’s great outdoors assets, other bonuses for attracting and keeping people is a vibrant downtown and locally owned businesses. For sure, there’s a need for a bit of urban sprawl, and Bemidji wouldn’t be what it is without having the Wal-Marts and the Targets, as well as the Paul Bunyan Mall and its recent expansion with Kohl’s and Hobby Lobby. Still, there’s just something about downtowns, Hengel said. “Millennials love downtowns,” Hengel said. He and others say Bemidji’s downtown always has been a focal point for the city, but in recent years, it has taken on a new dynamic, with a mix of trendy shops and services, as well as eateries and By Micah Friez mfriez@bemidjipioneer.com nightlife. Add in some housing options, and it’s a great selling point for the city, Since beginning AirCorps Aviation in 2008, Erik especially for young people. Hokuf has seen the business flourish in the place “There’s just a depth where it all began. to downtown that I “I grew up in Bemidji and got interested in don’t really recall as airplanes when I was a kid,” he said. “And a college student, I’ve always had a passion for World War admittedly ... I II and that vintage airplane. So that 2016 wasn’t nearly eventually turned into a business.” as tuned in as I Now, Hokuf has an enterprise with 2015 am now,” said customers and projects coming from Justin Kaney, all over the world. AirCorps’ work 2014 one of the ranges from restoration to fabricafounders of 2013 tion, from buying and selling parts Bemidji Brewto reverse engineering. Add in softing, which has 2012 ware programs and aircraft mainbuilt a new tenance, and the business has seen 2011 brewery downplenty of growth since its early days town. “But it in the Twin Cities. 2010 certainly seems “I moved to Minneapolis, worked to me as a health$15 $20 $25 $30 $35 $40 $45 $50 down there and got connected to the ier downtown ... all Millions owner of a construction company who has the way from like a passion for collecting and flying World Sean’s virtual reality War II airplanes,” Hokuf said. “That’s where I Sourc arcade (FroydTech) and e: Greater Bemidji , Inc. gained my experience in the World War II aviation then we’ve got of course the area. Thai place (Tara Thai), the hot “When we decided to move to Bemidji in 2011, I GROWTH, Page 7 sold (Eric Trueblood, Dan Matejcek and Mark Tisler)

Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer

A P-51C-10NT airplane replica, named Lope’s Hope, sits in the shop as the AirCorps team continues work on the project. The original plane was piloted by Lt. Donald Lopez during World War II.

AirCorps continues its soaring success

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a little bit of the business, so we all teamed up. That’s what’s really allowed us to grow, because we all brought different things to the table.” Starting with the team of four back in AirCorps’ genesis, and now to upwards of 35 employees, Hokuf’s interest has grown into a career. From on-thejob training at Bemidji Regional Airport as a high school student to 20 years of experience working on airplanes, Hokuf has develErik Hokuf oped a love for aviation. “It’s definitely become a passion. It’s still exciting,” he said. “The most rewarding thing is seeing other people really get excited. They come to work and they love their job, excited they get to do some pretty cool things. That’s actually a lot of fun for me.” And it doesn’t hurt that it’s all happening in Hokuf’s hometown. “We hope to continue to grow. We’re happy to be here in Bemidji,” he said. “We decided that Bemidji would be a great place to be, and so far we’re very happy with that.”

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April 14 at the Historic Chief Theater in front of a sold-out crowd. She credits the enthusiasm of the team and others in Bemidji for coming together to make it happen. The collaboration she sees in the community, Nienow said, is key to what keeps Bemidji thriving. Nienow, who usually works out of her home for Red Zest Design, is also a member of the LaunchPad and takes advantage of the coworking space once per week. “Seeing the lower level get redone and seeing businesses grab onto the idea of having shared, coworking space, that mindset shift to me shows growth and collaboration,” Nienow said. She’s part of weekly Entrepreneurs Meetup on Wednesdays so she will typically end up working there midweek. Nienow also occasionally attends the Women in Business meetups on Tuesdays. She also recalls that two weeks after the TEDxBemidji event, BSU helds its TAD Talks, which is a similar affair. The auditorium was packed and Nienow said the talks were well done. “It is fantastic to see support for more learning and the public being curious and wanting to grow or see what’s going on,” Nienow said. “I love that.”

LU

By Jillian Gandsey jgandsey@bemidjipioneer.com As the owner of Red Zest Design, Sam Nienow regularly works with TEDx presenters, which led her and a team of others to bring TEDx to Bemidji. Nienow started Red Zest Design in 2009 and helps presenters, executive directors, CEOs and more give talks, make fundraising pitches and beyond. She began working with TEDxFargo in 2013 to help presenters with their slideshows. “Most of them have some kind of PowerPoint and those who choose to have some help with that PowerPoint to make sure it looks great, I’ve been helping out,” Nienow said. A specific moment while working with the Fargo crew triggered Nienow to want to create TEDxBemidji. She recalls being with their team in 2013 and experiencing their thought process of “Yes, I live in Fargo and Fargo’s cool.” “To see that mindshift happen and that belief being instilled, I was like I want to be part of this community, wait, wait, wait, I love my community. I want to help create that feeling, that energy in my own community in Bemidji.” So she did. Nienow and nine others collaborated to make the first-ever TEDxBemidji event, which was held on


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Pioneer file photo

Mychal Stittsworth, owner of Stittsworth Meats, is planning a $1.86 million expansion of the business with the help of a $175,316 grant from the Job Creation Fund from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Inspiration from entrepreneurial meetups leads to Stittsworth expanding

Growth

FROM PAGE 5

dog stand (Lucky Dogs). “All these things that are fresh and new. All these things that are pretty cool. We’ve got all of the nice boutique style stores that weren’t as prevalent. They are all doing a good job complementing the existing, anchored stalwarts that have been here for so long.” One of the champions of downtown is Mitch Rautio. The owner of the Keg ‘N’ Cork and several downtown properties has been envisioning a new mix of retail and housing on what’s called the rail corridor, which is just south of the city’s downtown area, extending from Park Avenue Northwest to land near the Mississippi River, bordered by

Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer

A Cenex store that also will incorporate an A&W restaurant is under construction at the northwest corner of Irvine Avenue Northwest and Anne Street.

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products that can be sold wholesale at big box stores and other grocery markets. When planning for the company’s expansion, Stittsworth said there was no doubt he’d keep the business in the area. “I’m already tied into every part of the community. I’m on the United Way board, the Chamber of Commerce Board and I’m involved with BSU,” Stittsworth said. “Along with that, though, it’s just a good place to do it, because there’s no means of federally inspected slaughter in this whole northern part of the state right now. “However, the way Bemidji sits geographically, we do have a lot of agriculture in the area that not many people know about,” Stittsworth said. “People in the area are raising about a quarter

existing rail lines. The rail corridor development, in a way, sums up how and why Bemidji is growing. “With all that Bemidji has, people are starting to ask ‘Why wouldn’t I want to live and work up here?’” Rautio said. “In Bemidji, some people want to hold on to the small-town tradition and then there are others who want to grow the city with modern technology. I think we are going to end up with a mix of that in the city. It will have the growth in the urban areas, but still hold on to that small-town tradition.”

of what they could, and that’s plenty to sustain what we need. But what’s exciting about that is if we grow to a larger scale, there’s the capacity for farmers to grow with us.” The spark to move forward with the project to grow his business came from something Stittsworth actually helped to start. The business owner helped create a weekly entrepreneur meetup at the LaunchPad, a program operated by Greater Bemidji Economic Development. “A lot of the growth from businesses is boiling over from that, because it’s great support network. That’s why there’s lots of expansion things going on like our project,” Stittsworth said. “There’s a lot of organic business growth in the community. Regarding the talent we have in

the area, some of the mentors and former business owners we have at the LaunchPad have said that the core group of entrepreneurs in this town is some of the best they’ve ever seen.” Because of that talent, Stittsworth said growth both in population and economic development will continue in the city for years to come. “The 15,000 population number can be deceiving. Most of my friends don’t live in the city limits, so you have to count the greater Bemidji area, and that’s really growing,” Stittsworth said. “One of the things driving that are the companies. Bemidji has a few unique brands. Some of them are old, some are new, and I think they’re good enough brands to be on the national market. I think that’s exciting.”

From Bemidji to the world Ben Stowe develops NLFX into worldwide company

By Micah Friez mfriez@bemidjipioneer.com Starting from a coffee can light made in a homeless shelter to building a worldwide company from it, Ben Stowe has seen NLFX Productions flourish with dedication, adaptation and a surplus of elbow grease. “The beginnings, I don’t think, could be much more humble,” the founder and president said. “I got into high school, and I found myself out of the home. Just the process of baby bird leaving the nest before it can completely fly. You have to figure it out before you hit the ground. Electronics really became that parachute… It became that necessary lifeline.” Founded in 1993, NLFX Productions provides audio and video equipment, installation and production/rentals. And despite its humble beginnings, the company has taken off in its 25 years. “Growth has really been the name of the game for us,” said Stowe. “We’re a technology company, so as technology has evolved, so have we.” Being one of the first companies to go online contributed to its success. “Things took a pretty dramatic turn for us in 1998 when we went online. We were one of the very first companies doing commerce online, certainly we were one Optometrist of the first in our industry,” Stowe said. “That made a big difference because we Dr. Maureen Whelan didn’t have much competition. We experienced rapid growth.” Optometrist Being online has allowed NLFX to be much more than just a regional business. Dr. Susan Tesch It has shipped to six continents, putting boots on the ground in four. In fact, Bemidji accounts for less than 2 percent of total sales, and Minnesota accounts for 1900 Division Street W less than 10 percent. Bemidji, MN 56601 But that doesn’t mean Stowe plans on (218) 759-1430 leaving any time soon. Evening appointments available “Continuing to branch out globally in www.whelaneyecare.com our industry, but also increasing our footprint locally (is the goal),” Stowe said.

Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer

Ben Stowe holds up the coffee can light that became the start of NLFX Productions in 1993, which he made while in a homeless shelter.

“We’re going to continue to very actively serve our community. I think it’s a really awesome thing that we don’t rely on Bemidji for our economic support, but we get to live here.” Stowe added, in addition to continuing a relationship with the Sound and Light Academy at Bemidji High School and handling audio and visuals at the Sanford Center, he hopes to create movements to foster musical creation and growth. And even though Stowe said the work can be overbearing at times — citing a recent 100-hour work week — it’s all worth it at the end of the (long) day. It’s that attitude that’s help NLFX Productions grow into what it is. “If you wake up every day and think you want to work in this industry, you want to be a sound person or a lighting technician, then this is the only place where you’ll really feel home,” he said. “The very rock stars that you used to listen to as a teen are now calling you asking for your cables. You just kinda go, ‘Wow, how did all this happen?’... It’s been a very long grind. A steady process, an enjoyable one. We just kept moving and found our way.”

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By Matthew Liedke mliedke@bemidjipioneer.com Mychal Stittsworth is expanding his business two-fold. In the last year, the owner of Stittsworth Meats has developed a plan to get a new mobile slaughter unit as well a manufacturing and processing plant to be located in Bemidji’s Industrial Park. The mobile unit, Stittsworth said, will allow for the harvest of animals on the farm under inspection. The product will then be able to be brought back to the new Industrial Park facility to be placed in cold storage. Along with having that cold storage to allow the beef to age to create more tenderness, Stittsworth said the new building will also include a commercial smokehouse for all of the company’s homemade

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THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR CHOICE THERAPY

The Bemidji Pioneer

Jason Brodina of Choice Therapy.

Bemidji company has grown throughout the region Jack Hittinger jhittinger@bemidjipioneer.com When Jason Brodina, Cheri Ware and Joe Kapaun founded Choice Therapy in 2009, they had four employees, a small building and a vision. “When we started there was no other private practice in the medical field, and especially in the physical, occupational and speech therapy world,” Brodina said. “So we had a corner on the market as far as a private practice. If it wasn’t us, it would have been someone else. But it’s really taken off for us.” Now, Choice Therapy has more than 70 employees and six locations in northern Minnesota. The main Bemidji office has expanded into a 14,000 square-foot building they share with Snap Fitness. Brodina says they’re close to outgrowing that space, too. “Before us, there was the one place at the hospital to get physical therapy,” he said. “But now that we started private practice, the hospital therapy department has grown and so have we. The competition has been good. Everybody has grown. People in the community are more aware of what therapy can provide as far as rehabilitation and other

things.” After the Bemidji branch found success, the company opened offices in area communities — there are clinics in Bagley, Blackduck, Clearbrook and Kelliher. They also recently stepped outside the immediate area to serve the Iron Range with their Hibbing office, which opened last year. The company has also started servicing area schools, including TrekNorth, Voyageurs, Red Lake and the Bug-ONay-Ge-Shig School, as well as nursing homes. Brodina said the company’s growth had been noticed nationally as well — in 2015 it made Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America. “I think it goes back to quality work. It doesn’t matter what kind of profession you do, if you do quality work, people are going to want to come to see you,” he said. “That’s what we try and pride ourselves on, in doing the right thing and doing quality work.” In the future, Brodina said he likes how the company is growing. “We’re seeing more growth opportunities in the schools, and also in the

Sustain Bemidji Joe Bowen jbowen@bemidjipioneer.com As Bemidji grows, people like Anna Carlson hope to ensure it grows sustainably and environmentally responsibly. Carlson is the assistant sustainability director at Bemidji State University and a Anna Carlson facilitator of the Bemidji city government’s sustainability committee. “I am all about working with people to create and sustain healthy, livable communities,” she told the Pioneer. “That can happen in a number of different ways and a number of different avenues. I think that sustainability, for me, and how I approach my work is always with this understanding that our communities and ourselves, our families, we rely on a healthy environment to survive and thrive, and the environment doesn’t really need us.” Part of Bemidji’s appeal lies in its wild spaces, and Carlson said it’s important to understand how the city’s growth can impact those spaces. Houses on the lake — prized properties in Northern Minnesota — can change the ecology of the lake on which they’re built, she explained, unless residents maintain a modestly-sized “buffer zone” between their manicured yards and the shore to help filter contaminants that would otherwise end up in the water. “It’s possible to love something to death,” Carlson said. “We all love the lakes and we love the forests. If we

don’t understand the limits that those things have, that we can inadvertently degrade the quality of those things that we love.” City leaders worked diligently, Carlson said, to ensure that a development on Lake Bemidji’s south shore included native plantings and a buffer between the planned building and the lake, and Bemidji State University staff worked with the Department of Natural Resources to restore the shoreline along the university’s campus. A handful of public and private organizations also offer home and business energy use assessments, Carlson said, and a few Bemidji businesses incorporated LED lights and solar arrays after having one done. The sustainability committee Carlson chairs collaborated with the Indigenous Environmental Network to add Bemidji to a countrywide “Mayors’ Monarch Pledge,” and the National Wildlife Federation’s website indicates city leaders have committed to launching an effort to encourage citizens to plant monarch gardens at their homes or in their neighborhoods, among other initiatives. The Audubon Society also designated Bemidji a “Bird City” in June, and Carlson said the sustainability committee offers environmentally-minded groups a place to brings ideas like those forward and collaborate on them. “It’s one of those things that takes that continual communication and understanding to know why we do things the way that we do,” Carlson said. “So as we grow and people come into our community, that it’s sort of built into how we understand our responsibility here.”

services that we provide,” he said. “Our therapists continually get more education in their specialties and their skills in continuing education, and we look to expand on that. We’re also developing a chronic pain speciality in our clinic. We’ve identified that as a big need in our community and it’s really taken off for us.” He said he’s noticed the growth in

Bemidji in general and thinks it will keep going. “When we look at how much our community has grown, it’s great to see and be a part of,” he said. “When we look at growth in this area, Bemidji is a hub. We’re drawing from a lot of different communities, which allows us to grow…. I think being that hub is crucial for our growth.”

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

D9

BREWING UP GROWTH

Bemidji Brewing Co. opened its new location, 211 America Ave. NW, more than a year ago. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

Bemidji Brewing continues its expansion with new site, new markets “A bulk of our delivery was done with just a dolly down the street, which was quaint and really nice because it gave us a chance to understand and grow and learn a lot of aspects of the business,” Kaney said. Bemidji Brewing moved to way they are now, 211 America Ave. NW, a little more than a year ago and have been brewing their beer there since April 2016. More space and moving from a three-barrel brewing house to 15-barrel allowed them to do much more. “Our brewhouse is five times the size but our overall annual capacity is significantly more,” Kaney said. “I would put it at least in the ballpark of eight to 10 times the annual output that we could do at our former facility.” The brewery began serving food in November with everything from smoked lake trout dip to flatbread pizzas on the menu. Recently, the brewery also began canning their beers, which can be found at liquor stores around Bemidji. “We feel like we’ve been getting alot of support for the community and that has allowed us to leverage the investment that we have here and without it would never have happened,” Kaney said.

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Joe Bowen to Bemidji and, hopefully, jbowen@bemidjipioneer.com keep its economy local. Sachel Josefson hopes to “The types of businessattract talented people to es we want to get here Bemidji. are going to draw money “In order to recruit top into the community and talent, you need to give circulate that money these people a reason for into the community,” he being here,” he said. “And explained. A company in this society where peolike WalMart, which set ple are working remotely, up shop on the outskirts how can Bemidji position of town, brings a lot of itself and develop a vision money to Bemidji but also to get them to move takes a lot of money out here?” — to the Walton family. A professor at Bemidji Josefson hopes the area Sachel Josefson State University, Josefson finds and recruits busiis one of the people behind the “TAD” nesses and talent that bring money into talks there, named after the Technolthe community and keep it there. ogy, Art and Design school where he He held up Bemidji Brewing as an teaches. The talks bring luminaries example: “The owners of Bemidji Brewfrom those fields to the university cam- ing went through Bemidji State Unipus to expose their ideas to the student versity. They went and left Bemidji and body and community at large. He’s also they had successful careers, and they involved with “TEDx” events at the decided they wanted to move back to Chief Theater, where local thinkers do Bemidji and be a part of the commumore of the same in a setting similar nity and start a business here, and so to the widely-acclaimed series of TED they invested their time, energy, and talks. resources to build Bemidji Brewing,” As regional powers like Sanford Josefson said. “And Bemidji as a comHealth recruit more and more doctors munity has reciprocated by going there and the city assumes the mantle of a and being a part of that community, regional hub, Josefson sees events like and it’s become a common space for those as a way to draw talented people people to congregate and talk with one — potential workers — and businesses another.”

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By Jillian Gandsey jgandsey@bemidjipioneer.com You can find Bemidji Brewing Co. beers at just about any bar and restaurant around town — and beyond. Our hometown brewery began with a Kickstarter fundraising campaign just half a decade ago and last summer moved into its current location: a 15-barrel brewhouse with a 2,000 square-foot taproom and patio. Justin “Bud” Kaney, one of four cofounders of the brewery, said their expansion was predicated on the success found at their first site, 401 Beltrami Ave. NW, where Tara Bemidji is now located. “It lent itself to us investing deeper and expanding our operations right here in the community and making sure that we were going to be able to be a sustainable business for the long run,” said Kaney, who operates Bemidji Brewing with Tina Kaney, Tom Hill and Megan Hill. At their Beltrami Avenue location, Bemidji Brewing was able to brew enough beer to keep the taproom in stock and also supply a handful of accounts, which still do business with them today, with their beer.


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The HydraHeads, representing Headwaters Canoe and Kayak, paddle during their first race in 2016 during the 11th annual Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival held at the Lake Bemidji waterfront. (Pioneer file photo) looked at what we could pull off, and what people will be interested in, and where we can draw from,” Johnson said. “We’ve got teams coming from Iowa, and Canada and all points in between. Maybe these other organizers can look at that and have a bit of confidence that if you put a good event on … our community really supports a really safe, clean, healthy fun event. It maybe just mapped out an expectation that they wouldn’t have had before. It brands our community in a really cool way.” Paris agrees that others could be inspired by the strategy of bringing groups together to put on a successful event. “Various organizations can come together for one event and it’s a bigger draw because you’ve got more people involved, she said. “You’re working side by side, you’re making connections and relationships within the community. These events have fostered more of that. And then at the end of the day, when the event is all over, we can celebrate in the achievements in what we’ve earned in giving back to other organizations monetarily as well.” Cindy Habedank, destination services specialist for Visit Bemidji, says people who live here and take part in these events are key to the success of each effort. “It shows that they love living here,” Habedank said, “and that kind of has a trickle-down effect, because they’ll tell their friends and family why they live here.” Their excitement about the events helps bring others to town for the next go around. “So we really value the local people and their great ambassadorship,” Habedank said. While no official study has been done, Paris suggests that the economic impact of the community’s events can be measured by the millions of dollars. Habedank said a visitor profile survey being conducted over the next year will help quantify the impact. “It’s not only the money raised, but also the number of people it brings to town,” Paris said. “Collectively it has a huge impact economically.” She sees it when people come to town in advance of the events and visit the Tourist Information Center. “People are kind of awestruck,” Paris said. “These are unique events. It helps to send that message out, too, about why we are such Bemidji True North.”

Bemidji Junior Jaycees members (from left) Mya McKinnon, Brooklynn Smith, McKenzie Jordahl and Alissa Thomas jump into Lake Bemidji during the BRRRmidji Plunge at Winterfest in February on Lake Bemidji. (Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer)

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By Dennis Doeden ddoeden@bemidjipioneer.com The Bemidji area is growing, and not just in terms of population or business. Signature events are being added as well. In the last dozen years, at least four major events have emerged. Endeavors like the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival, Blue Ox Marathon, Loop the Lake Festival bike ride, Winterfest on Lake Bemidji, Mississippi Music at the Waterfront, Ride for the Troops motorcycle ride and First City of Arts Studio Cruise. That’s in addition to longstanding events such as Art in the Park, the Bemidji Jaycees Water Carnival, the Beltrami County Fair, the Birchmont Golf Tournament, curling bonspiels and a host of fishing, baseball and hockey tournaments. “There have been some key signature events,” said Lori Paris, president of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce. “But I think one of the unique things I have noticed over the last 10 years is that this community really has a way of coming together. So these events and these festivals really highlight that.” One of the first “new” events, the Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival, made its mark right from the start in 2006. It drew more than 60 teams of 18-20 paddlers and hundreds of spectators to the Lake Bemidji waterfront that year, and has become a summertime splash for the community. The 12th annual event will be held Aug. 2-5 this year. Gary Johnson, CEO and general manager of Paul Bunyan Communications, was instrumental in bringing the festival to Bemidji. He was part of a Bemidji contingent that participated in a similar event in Duluth. As a board member of the Bemidji Rotary Club and the Chamber, he rallied those organizations, along with his own company, to sponsor the festival. “It intrigued me because it seemed like we had the perfect venue and I knew we had the perfect people to pull it off,” Johnson recalled. “I knew our venue offered some things that Duluth didn’t.” The banked amphitheater on the shoreline, protected from the wind, was ideal for spectators. “I never dreamed it would get this big,” he added. “It’s been a good run for sure.” Johnson said the Dragon Boat Festival might have helped set the stage for other ambitious events to be tackled. “I have to think it did change how we

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GILMAN GUIDES BEMIDJI CYCLING BOOM Austin Monteith amonteith@bemidjipioneer.com The number of cyclists, young and old, making the 17-mile trek around Lake Bemidji for the annual Loop the Lake Festival has grown from 350 to nearly 1,000 in just four years of existence. Muriel Gilman is a key figure working to expand the event and promote bicycling in Bemidji. The chairwoman for the Loop the Lake steering committee has seen the number of participants for the annual June bike ride balloon to 941 for the 2017 edition held June 17. Gilman, a retired Bemidji State exercise physiology professor, said she

Babe Mortenson receives a high-five as she crosses the finish line at the Sanford Center in June during the Loop the Lake Festival in Bemidji. (Micah Friez | Bemidji Pioneer) never would have expected the event to grow to this size. “We’ve just about tripled our numbers in four years,” she said. The festival, organized by Bike Bemidji, aims to promote and celebrate bicycling in Bemidji. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing that half of our participants are from Bemidji,” Gilman said. “That means that we’re getting close to 450 people out on their bikes at least once a year. That’s a good thing.” Gilman estimates that about half of the riders at this year’s festival came from outside of the Bemidji area. “Another of our goals as a group is

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to have an impact on the economics of our region,” Gilman said. “And so getting more people from out of town is exposing Bemidji and letting people know what great bicycling we have here.” Gilman has been driven to encourage good fitness habits since teaching

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exercise physiology during her more than 30 years at BSU. “I personally want to promote physical activity,” Gilman said. “It’s been a goal of mine to get people to be more active and I chose to pursue an elite cycling instructor’s certification from the League of American Bicyclists. A group of us were wanting to develop an event in Bemidji that would draw people to Bemidji and get people in Bemidji riding more.” Volunteers have also come out in force to support the growth of the event. “Since it’s a community event, we’ve grown from about 40 volunteers to 130 volunteers,” Gilman said. “There are lots and lots of people involved.” Educating the public on proper bicycling safety etiquette is another goal for event organizers. “I even heard from a neighbor the other day that her son was riding after our event and said, ‘Boy, the riders around here are so polite,’” recounted Gilman. “Education is one of our goals as well and so all that’s really satisfying. Seeing people out on their bikes and seeing them following the rules more often than they used to.”

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Trusted. Local. Committed. Runners take off from the start of the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon at the Sanford Center in October 2016 in Bemidji. (Pioneer file photo)

Blue Ox marathon keeps growing

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terms of how the community has supported it, my focus has been to get sponsorships and partnerships with local business and local groups more so than us reaching out to big name companies,” Knudson said. For example, he said one other race in the area used Michelob Golden Light as their official beer sponsor. The Blue Ox Marathon, by contrast, has a partnership with Bemidji Brewing Co. “That’s more fun and I think it gives the runners a sense of being part of Bemidji, and that’s different than just going and taking part in a race,” he said. “It’s by far one of the biggest two or three events in the community, and I think local businesses and local groups are understanding that. That’s what creates some of the traditions.” The marathon uses more than 200 volunteers, mostly from those businesses and community groups that sponsor or partner with the event. Although Knutson and Gora said they’d like to see a few more runners eventually, they’d also like to see growth when it comes to volunteers and race organizers. “We have a few core folks involved, and I think we’re all very passionate, and that’s been consistent throughout,” Gora said. “I think that’s why we’ve been able to grow because we’re not always reinventing the wheel, we’re just adding.” “One thing we can always use is growth in those areas,” Knutson added. “Volunteers the day of, the day before and the day after are wonderful and forever needed, but there’s definitely room for other ideas and help and expertise. We’ll hopefully have that group too, because it will make us more easily sustainable for the future.” For more information on the marathon and all the events associated with it, visit its website at http://www.bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com.

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Jack Hittinger jhittinger@bemidjipioneer.com The Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon started out fairly modestly, according to race organizers Philip Knutson and Angie Gora. Still, the inaugural event, in 2013, had 900 runners spread across the various races (including the marathon, halfmarathon and 5k). And ever since, those numbers have grown. The past three years, around 1,300 runners participated each year. And for the 2017 edition — which is scheduled for the weekend of Saturday, Oct. 14 — Knutson said registrations are up. “Where we’re sitting right now we’re more than 100 registrations over where we were this time last year,” he said. Knutson and Gora said the key to the Blue Ox’s success has been the community feel of the race compared to some larger races in the region. “In my mind, I always want to be quality of those big-city races, but with the small-town feel,” Knutson said. “I’ve lived in other places and have run a lot of races outside this area, and I’ve seen what races can become,” Gora added. “There is no reason why Bemidji should be any different. We’ve been pretty fortunate in a lot of regards that the community has gotten behind us and been supportive.” The race has drawn runners from more than half the states and at least two Canadian provinces. Gora said the race’s appeal is showcasing what Bemidji has to offer — few other races have the scenery that the Blue Ox Marathon route has. She mentioned Lake Bemidji, the Sanford Center and the ability to run through the BSU campus and Lake Bemidji State Park. Another reason they believe the marathon has been a hit is because of the way local businesses and community groups have stepped in to support it. “When I think about the growth in

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D12

Sunday, July 30, 2017

ANNUAL REPORT

www. bemidjipioneer.com

The Bemidji Pioneer

COMING TOGETHER IN BEMIDJI

About 30 people attended the Bemidji Truth and Reconciliation meeting in September 2015 at the American Indian Resource Center on the BSU campus. (Pioneer file photo)

Truth and Reconciliation movement looks to build bridges within the community By Grace Pastoor Treuer, aims to educate the community gpastoor@bemidjipioneer.com on both historical and modern issues Two and a half years after Bemifacing the area’s Native American popudji’s Truth and Reconciliation process lation, as well and build and strengthen kicked off, the movement’s leaders relationships within the community. think they finally know where to begin. So far, those involved in the move“In the beginning it was mostly just ment have promoted a series of events, getting community members together including weekly discussions dubbed to see if there was interest...if it was “Courageous Conversations,” trainings the right timing to begin doing this and a new yearlong series called Building work,” said Linsey McMurrin of Peacethe Bridge: Taking Courageous Action on maker Resources. “What we’ve been Racial Reconciliation. Linsey McMurrin able to do more in the recent past “We are really looking, again, for year...is really focus on where we need to start, and a wider range of opportunity for folks coming in,” that’s building relationships, building and strengthMcMurrin said. “We had great attendance at our ening the understanding.” monthly Courageous Conversation, but we were also McMurrin and Peacemaker Resources were asked seeing that the size of the group was really concenearly on in the process to participate in the local truth trated in those folks who were already involved in the and reconciliation efforts. The nonprofit is based in conversation and wanting to go deeper.” Bemidji and provides a variety of services. McMurrin and other organizers now want to expand Bemidji’s Truth and Reconciliation program, found- opportunities for engagement and include people who ed in part by Bemidji State University professor Anton

may not be as familiar with the ins and outs of truth and reconciliation. The Building the Bridge events will be held on the first Tuesday of every month and are meant to provide an entry point for new participants. “Certainly there is a demographic in the area who, despite best efforts, I’m not sure we will ever reach,” McMurrin said. “But what we’re also looking at is those folks on the cusp, you know, those folks who just simply don’t know what they don’t know.” Bemidji Area Truth and Reconciliation next event, Mawanji’idim: Coming Together Community Celebration, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 1. McMurrin said the get-together will provide attendees with an informal opportunity to build relationships by sharing a meal. “What it really is, is just an opportunity for us to come together as a community, no matter what walk of life you’re coming from,” McMurrin said. “We all want to raise our children to be happy and healthy, we all want to come together with shared understanding and respect for one another.”

A WARM PLACE ON A COLD NIGHT Chair of the Nameless Coalition Reed Olson stands in front of The Wolfe, 522 America Ave. NW. (Pioneer file photo)

Wolfe Center, overnight winter shelter, sees some 2,000 uses in first seven months By Grace Pastoor gpastoor@bemidjipioneer.com Since it opened for its first full winter in October, Bemidji’s newest homeless shelter marked more than 2,000 uses during its seven months in operation. That’s more than 2,000 times — 2,096 to be precise — that a homeless person didn’t have to sleep on the streets during the city’s notoriously cold and snowy winters. Instead, many of Bemidji’s homeless chronic inebriates made use of the Wolfe Center’s 16 beds, along with its shower and laundry facilities. “We had a really strong year, high participation,” said Reed Olson, chairman of Bemidji’s Nameless Coalition for the Homeless, which runs the center. “During the months that we were open there were no...alcohol and weather-related deaths in the community. There were some deaths, but not due to weather and homelessness.” The Wolfe Center — located at a former church at the corner of Sixth Street and America Avenue NW — is a cold-weather nighttime shelter. It opens each year on Oct. 1 and, until April 30, provides accomodations between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. Ideally, the shelter would be open year-round, or at least from September to May, Olson said. Funding and permit restrictions currently prohibit that, however. The Nameless Coalition is also working to figure out

a Plan B in the event the shelter cannot accommodate everyone who needs a bed on a given night. “One of our concerns was that now that people knew that we were there, that we were going to fill up, especially on cold nights, and we were really worried that we were going to get that 17th, 18th person,” Olson said. “We still do need to figure out what that answer is, because if it’s 30 below and we’re full and four people walk in...we’re not going to send them out.” In addition to giving the city’s homeless a safe place to sleep during the coldest time of year, Olson said the Wolfe Center benefits the Bemidji community as a whole. When the shelter first opened, many of its clients were brought there by police. Now, according to Olson, the homeless come on their own, reducing the chances that they will be arrested. Shelter staff are also able to perform first aid, keeping clients out of the hospital. “By keeping them out of jail that night, then we don’t start that snowball of added court costs and other criminal justice costs,” Olson said of the shelter’s clients. “Every night that we’re open we’re saving the Bemidji Police Department, the Beltrami sheriff’s office and the jail and Sanford emergency room a lot of money.” The shelter is set to open again Oct. 1.


The Bemidji Pioneer

www.bemidjipioneer.com

ANNUAL REPORT

Sunday, July 30, 2017

D13

MAKING THE MARK IN THE ARTS

Watermark Art Center supporters throw dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off construction in April of the new center at 505 Bemidji Ave. N. (Pioneer file photo)

Bemidji continues to be enriched as regional arts center a temporary location, at 516 Beltrami Ave NW, during the construction. The new space, which will be a little more than 10,000 square feet, will allow the Watermark to do more and serve more artists. In the completed space, the Region 2 Arts Council will return as a tenant, there will be four gallery spaces and a formal education space. “Some of the gallery spaces are unique and we will be doing a lot of our regular exhibit programming where we feature local, and regional and national artists,” Forshee-Donnay said, “We have a space dedicated to Native American art, year round, not just the occasional exhibit.” The new space will also feature a Bemidji State gallery to display the university’s collections. Forshee-Donnay hopes to be able to move the organization into the new building by the end of the year. Not only has the new building been a sign of the Watermark’s growth, the staff has also increased. Forshee-Donnay began leading the organization in 2006 with the help of a part-time employee or interns. Over the years, she has grown the team to include Cindy Stenberg, executive secretary; Emily Enger, communications director, and Karen Goule, program director of Miikanan Gallery. “We anticipate adding additional positions for the facility in education and other areas. We are looking at adding those positions and developing the design of those positions,” ForsheeDonnay said. From their new home, the Watermark hopes to be able to expand the art opportunities and reach more people. “We have more ideas than we have room for, so we have to kind of filter though that and figure out what’s best for our organization, what’s best for the programming and for the community,” Forshee-Donnay said.

Celebrating 25 years of serving the Bemidji area!

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By Maggi Stivers mstivers@bemidjipioneer.com When it comes to growth in the Bemidji art scene, there are plenty of examples if you just take a peek. The Bemidji Sculpture Walk went somewhere new this year, indoors. When the committee placed the new sculptures this spring, a sculpture by local artists Marlon Davidson and Don Knudson was placed inside the Tourist Information Center. Gallery North has moved into a new location, featuring a large classroom space, located at 310 Fourth St. NW in May. A “Landscape of Sound” mural was painted by Paula Swenson on the KBXE Building in March. With new a light board, sound board and sound equipment, the Chief Theater was able to host several different movie nights during the winter. The equipment is also used for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse productions during the 2017 summer season. Another current sign of growth is the Watermark Art Center’s renovation to its new home along Bemidji Avenue. The Watermark began as the Bemidji Community Arts Center, founded in 1982 following a merger between The Bemidji Community Arts Council and the Bemidji Art Center Association. They soon found a home in the Carnegie Library, where they stayed for 33 years. “That’s why we kind of do this combination,” said Lori Forshee-Donnay, Watermark Art Center, executive director. “There was one group looking to bring exhibits and kind of create a space for people to access art to come to. The original was a group that actually brought things to the community, whether it was a concert or theater.” In 2012, the Watermark purchased the former Lakeside Lueken’s grocery store building in anticipation of the move. The center was located inside the new space for a brief time before moving to

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D14

ANNUAL REPORT

Sunday, July 30, 2017

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The Bemidji Pioneer

Emily Williams, Licensed School Nurse at Charter School Health, right, consults with Elizabeth Andrews in the co-working space in February at the LaunchPad. (Pioneer file photo)

LAUNCHED AND SOARING

Mayflower building, and the LaunchPad, abuzz with activity in Bemidji By Dennis Doeden ddoeden@bemidjipioneer.com A little over two years ago, the Mayflower Building in downtown Bemidji stood vacant. Today, there’s a buzz in the structure that few people could have imagined then. Since being purchased and renovated by the Greater Bemidji economic development organization, the Mayflower has become a center for ideas, business activity, meetings, events and dreams. The building houses Greater Bemidji offices, TEAM Industries engineers, Bemidji State University marketing research program and EXB Solutions, an aerospace software testing firm. But the Mayflower has become so much more than office space. It hosts a weekly entrepreneur meetup and a mentorship program that pairs seasoned business and educational leaders with local entrepreneurs. With the recently completed renovation of the lower level, it now offers coworking space for as many as 40 members of what is known as the LaunchPad “We are primed for continued growth,” says Tiffany Fettig, LaunchPad coordinator. “We will look to continue building our member base seeking start-up, freelancers, remote workers and professionals interested in being a part of a fun, supportive entrepreneurial community. We will be looking for additional mentors willing to share their experience with younger entrepreneurs.” The weekly meetups have been going since March 2015. A take-off of the 1 Million Cups concept, it has been the foundation of the LaunchPad activities. An entrepreneur leader team was originally hoping for attendance of 20-25 when it began. Currently, meetup

attendance is averaging 30-35, with several weeks seeing as high as 60, according to Fettig. “The mix of attendees is also encouraging,” she said. Young and old, experienced business owners and newbies, business resource partners and community members and students. We see new faces every week. The regulars are good at introducing themselves to new folks making valuable connections when possible.” Fettig said the meetups are organic. “We give them a place to meet and coordinate the presenter schedule,” she said. “The rest just happens. Relationships form, connections are made, resources are shared, and learning is happening just from the ability to gather together one hour a week.” The mentorship program has seen similar success. Eight mentors are on board to work with entrepreneurs. In addition, Small Business Development Center consultants help entrepreneurs move forward. Often times both a mentor and a SBDC consultant are assisting an individual, Fettig said. As valuable as the meetups and mentorships have been, the most impressive part of the LaunchPad could be the coworking concept. The idea is to provide working space for individuals and businesses that either cannot or choose not to have their own office or facility. It started on the main floor of the Mayflower, but the lower level renovation project has taken it to a whole new level, so to speak. Several “campsites” were created, and all have been taken or spoken for. Campsite members include two web design/marketing firms, a corporate remote worker doing data analytics, a start-up research and development engineering firm, a paralegal working

remotely for an attorney in Duluth and a founder of a hospitalist staff company. “Even vacationers and business travelers are finding us,” Fettig said. “They come for daily or weekly passes to co-work while away from home.” She said nine members would be categorized as in the startup phase, young businesses or in the business planning stage. Seventeen are “solopreneurs” (one-person businesses). Thirteen are in tech-related fields. Seven members are consultants in their field of expertise. And seven would be considered corporate remote workers. “LaunchPad has given these members a place to work outside their home, corporate office, while vacationing or traveling,” Fettig said. “The eclectic membership base allows members to mix it up with people outside their normal circle. Friendships have formed. Members have taken it upon themselves to plan happy hours at the Brewery with each other.” Fettig said more plans are in the works at the Mayflower. “Soon we will launch the ‘Start A Business in Bemidji Guide’ to give those interested in starting a business a roadmap and a navigator to help them develop their idea,” she said. “We will continue to explore ways to provide established businesses the resources they need to continue to grow and remain competitive and relevant in today’s marketplace. We will look to bring back another HackFest to give those in the IT, web development and creative fields more opportunities to develop and showcase their skills. Finally, we will be exploring youth entrepreneur opportunities to expose more students to the business, product development, and tech-related fields.”

DNEPED SEKAL YHTLAEH HEALTHY LAKES DEPEND ON YOU!

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HEALTHY HEALTHYLAKES LAKES LAKESDEPEND DEPEND DEPENDON ON ONYOU! YOU! YOU! HEALTHY Clean Drain Dispose

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Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

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Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

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Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

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Native Nativeaquatic aquaticplants plantsand andanimals animals Native aquatic plants and animals play playimportant important roles roles ininhealthy healthy play important roles in healthy lake lake ecosystems. ecosystems. Some Some non-native non-native lake ecosystems. Some non-native species, species, though, though, can cancause causeharm. harm. species, though, can cause harm. What Whatcan canyou youdo? do? What can you do?

Clean your watercraft, trailers Clean Clean your your watercraft, watercraft, trailers trailersand and andequipment equipment equipment before leaving a lake. before before leaving leaving aalake. lake.trailers and equipment Clean your watercraft,

before leaving a lake. Drain your boat by pulling the plug Drain Drain your your boat boat by by pulling pulling the thedrain drain drain plug plug Clean your watercraft, trailers and equipment and leaving it out. Drain your ballast tanks, and and leaving leaving it it out. out. Drain Drain your your ballast ballast tanks, tanks, Drain your boataby pulling the drain plug before leaving lake. livewell and bait containers. livewell livewell and and bait bait containers. containers. and leaving it out. Drain trailers your ballast tanks, Clean your watercraft, andequipment equipment Clean Cleanyour your watercraft, trailers trailers and equipment Drain your boatcontainers. by pulling theand drain plug livewell andwatercraft, bait Clean your watercraft, trailers and equipment of unwanted bait in Don’t Dispose before before leaving leaving aout. lake. before leaving aalake. lake. Dispose Dispose ofof unwanted unwanted bait bait ininthe the thetrash. trash. trash. Don’t Don’t and leaving it Drain your ballast tanks, before leaving a lake. release it into a water body. If you want toto release release it it into into a a water water body. body. If If you you want want unwanted bait in the trash. Don’t Dispose livewell of and bait containers. Drain Drainyour yourboat boatby bypulling pullingthe thedrain drainplug plug release it into a water body. If you want to Drain your boat by pulling the drain plug and and leaving leaving itor out. out. Drain Drain your your ballast ballast tanks, tanks, with bottled tap water. with with bottled bottled or or tap tap water. water. of it unwanted bait in the trash. Don’t Dispose Drain your boat by pulling the drain plug livewell livewell and and bait bait containers. containers. release it into a water body. If you want to and leaving it out. Drain your ballast tanks, with bottled or tap water. and leaving it out. Drain your ballast tanks,

livewell and bait containers. Dispose Dispose of ofunwanted unwanted bait bait in inthe the trash. trash.Don’t Don’t If suspect found an invasive Ifyou Ifyou you suspect suspect you’ve you’ve found found an anaquatic aquatic aquatic invasive livewell and bait containers. with bottled oryou’ve tap water. release release ityour it into into atake a water water body. body. If Ifnote you you want want to to species (AIS), a photo, note the location species species (AIS), (AIS), take take a a photo, photo, note the the location location Clean Clean your watercraft, watercraft, trailers trailers and and equipment equipment If you suspect you’ve found an aquatic invasive and and contact contact Beltrami Beltrami County County Enviromental Enviromental before before leaving leaving aa lake. and contact Beltrami County Enviromental Clean your watercraft, trailers and equipment species (AIS), take a lake. photo, note the location of unwanted bait in218-333-8281. the trash. Don’t Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Don’t with with bottled bottled or or tap tapwater. water. Services Services AIS AIS PROGRAM PROGRAM at at 218-333-8281. Services AIS PROGRAM at 218-333-8281. If you suspect you’ve found an aquatic invasive before leaving a lake. and contact Beltrami County Enviromental release it(AIS), intoboat water body.note you want to Do Do not not transport transport AIS! Drain Drain your your boat by by pulling pulling the drain drain plug plug Do not transport AIS! species take aAIS! photo, the location release it into aa water body. IfIfthe you want to Services AIS PROGRAM at 218-333-8281. and and leaving leaving it it out. out. Drain Drain your your ballast ballast tanks, tanks, and contact Beltrami County Enviromental Drain your boat by pulling the drain plug Do not transport AIS! IfServices Iflivewell you you suspect suspect you’ve you’ve found found an an aquatic aquatic invasive invasive mndnr.gov/AIS mndnr.gov/AIS livewell and and bait bait containers. containers. AIS at 218-333-8281. mndnr.gov/AIS and leaving it PROGRAM out. Drain your ballast tanks, with bottled or tap water. Minnesota Minnesota DNR DNR 651-296-6157 651-296-6157 species species (AIS), (AIS), take take a a photo, photo, note note the the location location Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157 Do not transport AIS! with bottled or tap water. livewell and bait containers. mndnr.gov/AIS and and contact contact Beltrami Beltrami County County Enviromental Enviromental Dispose Dispose ofof unwanted unwanted bait bait in in the the trash. trash. Don’t Don’t Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157 Services Services AIS AIS PROGRAM PROGRAM at at 218-333-8281. 218-333-8281. release release it it into into aa water water body. body. If If you you want want toto mndnr.gov/AIS Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. Don’t Do not notsuspect transport transport AIS! AIS! Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157 IfDoyou found aquatic invasive release it into ayou’ve water body. Ifan you want to with with bottled bottled or or tap tap water. water. species (AIS), take a photo, note the location If you suspect you’ve found an aquatic invasive mndnr.gov/AIS with bottled or tapmndnr.gov/AIS water.

Dispose

Minnesota DNR DNR 651-296-6157 651-296-6157 and contact County Enviromental species (AIS),Beltrami takeMinnesota a photo, note the location If If you you suspect suspect you’ve you’ve found found anan aquatic aquatic invasive invasive Services AIS PROGRAM at 218-333-8281. and contact Beltrami County Enviromental species species (AIS), (AIS), take take afound a photo, photo, note note the the location location IfDo you you’ve an aquatic invasive notsuspect transport AIS! Services AIS take PROGRAM atCounty 218-333-8281. and and contact contact Beltrami Beltrami County Enviromental species (AIS), a photo, noteEnviromental the location Services Services AIS AIS PROGRAM PROGRAM at at 218-333-8281. 218-333-8281. and contact Beltrami County Enviromental DoDoDo not transport AIS! not not transport transport AIS! AIS! mndnr.gov/AIS

Services AIS PROGRAM at 218-333-8281. Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157 Do not transport AIS!

mndnr.gov/AIS mndnr.gov/AIS mndnr.gov/AIS Minnesota Minnesota DNR DNR 651-296-6157 651-296-6157

mndnr.gov/AIS

Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157

Minnesota DNR 651-296-6157

Photo Credits: Steve McComas Photo Photo Credits: Credits: SteveSteve McComas McComas

Photo Credits:

Photo Credits: Steve McComas Steve McComas

Photo Credits: Photo Credits: Steve McComas

ZEBRA ZEBRA MUSSELS MUSSELS small small asasgrains grainsofofsand. sand. or boats. (Dreissena (Dreissena polymorpha) polymorpha) ZEBRA MUSSELS • •Will Willstick stick totovegetation vegetation (Dreissena polymorpha) •orReproduces •boats. Reproduces rapidly rapidly toto or boats. form form dense dense colonies colonies • Reproduces rapidly to and and outcompete outcompete other other form dense colonies species. species. and outcompete other • Microscopic • Microscopic larvae larvae are are species. easily easily transported. transported. • Microscopic larvae are • Striped • Striped shells shells can can bebe asas easily transported. small small asas grains grains ofof sand. sand. • Striped shells can be as STARRY STONEWORT STARRY STONEWORT STONEWORT •STARRY Will • Will stick stick toto vegetation small as grains ofvegetation sand. (Nitellopsis obtusa) (Nitellopsis (Nitellopsis obtusa) obtusa) or or boats. boats. • STARRY Will stickSTONEWORT to vegetation (Nitellopsis obtusa) or boats. Branched, grass-like •• •Branched, Branched,grass-like grass-like alga. alga. alga. STONEWORT STARRY • Branched, grass-like (Nitellopsis obtusa) Photo Credit: •alga. Tiny, star-shaped bulbs •Tiny, Tiny, star-shaped star-shapedbulbs bulbs Paul Skawinski Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Credit: PaulPhoto Skawinski PaulPaul Skawinski Skawinski

Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

Photo Photo Credit: Credit: Paul Paul Skawinski Skawinski

Paul Skawinski

Branched, grass-like •• Tiny, star-shaped bulbs STARRY STARRY STONEWORT STONEWORT Forms dense mats • alga. •Forms Formsdense densemats mats (Nitellopsis (Nitellopsis obtusa) obtusa) that outcompete other that thatoutcompete outcompeteother other Tiny, star-shaped STONEWORT ••STARRY Forms dense matsbulbs STARRY STONEWORT species. species. species. • •Branched, Branched, grass-like grass-like that outcompete other (Nitellopsis obtusa) alga. alga. •Can Caninterfere interfere with with Can interfere with ••species. Forms dense mats boating boating and andrecreation. recreation. boating and recreation. • •Tiny, Tiny, star-shaped star-shaped bulbs bulbs that outcompete • •Can interfere withother Branched, grass-like species. •boating Branched, grass-like and recreation. alga.dense • •Forms densemats mats alga.interfere •Forms Can with that that outcompete outcompete other other boating and recreation. • Tiny, star-shaped bulbs STARRY STARRY STONEWORT STONEWORT species. species. •(Nitellopsis Tiny, star-shaped (Nitellopsis obtusa) obtusa)bulbs STARRY STONEWORT • •Can Caninterfere interfere with with (Nitellopsis obtusa) boating boating and and recreation. recreation. •• Branched, •Forms Branched, grass-like grass-like dense mats

STARRY STONEWORT PhotoPhoto Credit:Credit: Paul Skawinski Paul Skawinski

(Nitellopsis obtusa) Photo Credit: Paul Skawinski

Steve McComas

(Butomus • Grows umbellatus) aggressively and • •Grows Growsaggressively aggressivelyand and FLOWERING RUSH displaces native plants. displaces displaces native native plants. plants. •FLOWERING Grows aggressively RUSH and (Butomusumbellatus) umbellatus) •displaces native plants. •(Butomus • are triangular in crossFLOWERING RUSH are are triangular triangular in in crosscross•• Grows aggressively and section. umbellatus) •(Butomus Grows aggressively and FLOWERING FLOWERING RUSH RUSH section. section. are triangular in crossdisplaces native plants. (Butomus (Butomus umbellatus) umbellatus) • section. • • displaces native plants. Growsinin aggressively and • • bloom latesummer summer bloom bloom inlate late summer • •Grows aggressively aggressively and and •Grows are triangular in crossand early autumn. displaces native plants. and and early early autumn. autumn. displaces displaces native native plants. plants. •section.in bloom late summer autumn. triangular in cross• • • and • areearly are are triangular triangular inincrosscrossbloom in late summer section. are triangular in crosssection. section. and early autumn. section. •• • bloom bloom ininlate latesummer summer FLOWERING RUSH RUSH •FLOWERING bloom inumbellatus) late summer and and early earlyautumn. autumn. (Butomus (Butomus umbellatus) bloom in late summer FLOWERING RUSH and early autumn. (Butomus umbellatus) early autumn.and • Grows • and Grows aggressively aggressively and displaces displaces native native plants. plants. • Grows aggressively and displaces native plants. • • are are triangular triangular in in crosscross• section. section. are triangular in crosssection. • • bloom bloom in in late late summer summer • and and early early autumn. autumn. bloom in late summer and early autumn. Photo Photo Credits: Credits: Steve Steve McComas McComas

FLOWERING RUSH (Butomus umbellatus)

• Grows aggressively and displaces native plants. • Narrow, stiff leaves are triangular in cross-section. • Cluster of pink flowers bloom in late summer and early autumn. PhotoPhoto Credits: Credits: Steve McComas Steve McComas

Photo Credits: Steve McComas

Photo Credits: Photo Photo Credits: Credits: Christine Christine JurekJurek Christine Jurek Minnesota Minnesota DNRDNR Minnesota DNR LakeLake Koronis, Koronis, August August 20152015 Lake Koronis, August 2015

Photo Credits: Christine Jurek Minnesota DNR Lake Koronis, August 2015

Photo Credits: Christine Jurek Minnesota DNR Lake Koronis, August 2015

• Branched, grass-like Developed Developed byby by Eden Eden Praire Praire Developed Eden Praire alga. Developed by Eden Praire alga. alga. • Tiny, star-shaped that outcompete other • Forms dense mats • Branched, grass-like Developed by Eden Praire alga. species. •bulbs Tiny, •that Tiny, star-shaped star-shaped bulbs bulbs outcompete other on root-like • Tiny, star-shaped bulbs •fispecies. Can interfere with laments. • Forms • Forms dense dense mats mats Developed DevelopedbybyEden EdenPraire Praire boating and recreation. that that outcompete outcompete other other • Forms dense mats • Forms dense mats • species. Can interfere with species. that outcompete other that outcompete other boating and recreation. species. • Can • Can interfere interfere with with boating boating and and recreation. recreation. species. • Can interfere with boating and recreation. • Can interfere with boating and Developed by Eden Praire recreation.

Photo Photo Credits: Credits: Christine Christine Jurek Jurek Minnesota Minnesota DNRDNR Lake Lake Koronis, Koronis, August August 2015 2015

Photo Credits: Christine Jurek Minnesota DNR Lake Koronis, August 2015

Photo Credits: Christine Jurek Minnesota DNR Lake Koronis, August 2015

PhotoPhoto Credits: Credits: Christine Christine Jurek Jurek Minnesota Minnesota DNR DNR Lake Koronis, Lake Koronis, AugustAugust 2015 2015 Photo Credits: Christine Jurek Minnesota DNR Lake Koronis, August 2015

Developed Developed by by Eden Eden Praire Praire

Developed by Eden Praire

Developed by Eden Praire

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BRITTLE BRITTLE NAIAD NAIAD narrow narrowwith withtoothed toothed (Najas (Najas minor) minor) edges. edges. BRITTLE NAIAD • Forms • minor) Forms thick thick mats mats that that (Najas shade shade other other species. species. • Forms thick mats that • Fragments • Fragments are are easily easily shade other species. transported transported byby water water and and • Fragments are easily gear. gear. transported by water and • Stems • Stems are are submerged. submerged. gear. • • • Stems are submerged. narrow narrow with with toothed toothed • edges. edges. narrow with toothed CURLY-LEAF PONDWEED CURLY-LEAF CURLY-LEAF PONDWEED PONDWEED edges. (Potamogeton crispus) (Potamogeton (Potamogeton crispus) crispus) CURLY-LEAF PONDWEED • Forms dense mats that • •Forms Forms dense dense mats mats that that (Potamogeton crispus) outcompete native plants. outcompete outcompete native native plants. plants. Credit: CURLY-LEAF PONDWEED •PhotoForms dense mats that Paul Skawinski Photo Credit: •Skawinski Stems areare submerged. • •Stems Stems are submerged. submerged. (Potamogeton crispus) native plants. Pauloutcompete

Photo Credit: Steve McComas Photo Photo Credit: Credit: SteveSteve McComas McComas

2017 Annual Report- Bemidji On the Move  
2017 Annual Report- Bemidji On the Move  
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