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Two local businesses to upgrade facilities

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Carlton County Commissioners approved two economic development loans on Monday that will help renovate and rehabilitate two existing buildings in the community of Cloquet.

A $50,000 loan was approved for DABOEDS LLC for the renovation of the former CJ's building in downtown Cloquet. The terms of the loan include 3 percent interest with a 20-year amortization schedule.

Pat Oman, Carlton County economic development director, told commissioners the building has been purchased by the owners of Daugherty Appliance Sales and Service, who currently lease an adjoining storefront. They also operate a store on West First Street in Duluth.

Oman said the building will become the company's permanent headquarters and will include expanded showroom space and warehouse area. According to owner Scott Boedigheimer, plans are to completely renovate the historic building, which housed the Johnson Company store for many years.

"We have some exciting things in store," said Boedigheimer. And though he was not yet able to disclose specifics, he said the larger facility will enable the business to display more appliances on the sales floor, add new lines and hire additional employees. He added that one of the things that especially appealed to him about the building was all of the large display windows.

"Folks will be able to shop from the outside!" he said.

The store will continue under the management of Pentti Anttila.

If all goes well with the construction schedule, Boedigheimer said plans are to open sometime in late spring or early summer.

The city of Cloquet and Members Cooperative Credit Union are also providing financial loan assistance to the project.

Another loan in the amount of $17,250 was approved for Johnson Marketplace Properties LLC for the renovation of a building owned by Scott and Sue Johnson at 402 22nd St. in Cloquet. A portion of the commercial dwelling will be used by the Johnsons for the purpose of expanding their catering business, with the balance to include a residential rental unit and commercial rental space.

"This is the only commercial building in the middle of a residential neighborhood," commented Oman, "so it should be a great addition."

The terms of the loan are 5 percent interest with a 10-year-amortization period. The loan will be made through the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant program. The city of Cloquet is also supporting a portion of the $36,000 project with a Small Cities forgivable loan.

In other business at Monday's board meeting, a public hearing date was set for a performance review of the Small Cities Grant Program. Oman explained the hearing is now required by the state, to include such information as how the grant money has been used and what types of rehabilitation have been accomplished. The hearing was set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.

The board received notice of a proposed tax increment financing district (TIF) within the city of Cloquet to assist in a plan to construct a second apartment building on 14th Street across from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The building would be the second of five planned for that area. Commissioner Tom Proulx said he could not support a plan to utilize tax increment financing for the purpose of creating housing. A similar request was denied by the city of Cloquet at the time the first 14th Street apartment building was constructed. Since that time, at least one other apartment project within the city has been allowed to utilize TIF benefits. Commissioners were informed that any feedback on the proposal must be received by the city of Cloquet no later than Dec. 18.

Commissioners unanimously approved the acquisition of upgraded aerial imagery of property within the county at a cost of approximately $25,319. The project will be paid for through the county's Compliance Fund Account, which generates funds through the recording of legal documents.