Passers-by have noticed recent activity at the Potlatch mill in northeast Brainerd.
What can appear to be a hole in the roof to remove equipment is actually removal of overhead doors. A crane is being used to remove coating machine and related equipment sold to Sappi Limited in the original March 18 sale agreement that had Sappi buying Potlatch's printing paper divisions, the Cloquet mill and the coating equipment in Brainerd.
The Brainerd mill is still owned by Potlatch.
Sappi workers have been at the Brainerd mill for about a week dismantling the coating equipment and removal of the coating machine itself is expected to take more than a month. Potlatch officials reported the equipment leaving is part of the sale and the mill is not being cannibalized as attempts are under way to sell the mill in one piece.
Tom Brotski, Potlatch transition manager, said the mill had two companies come in to look at the mill last week. He said right now he is more optimistic about the mill's sale potential than he was on March 18.
New owners of a longtime south Brainerd business have plans for expansion.
The Erickson Greenhouse on 13th Street South was purchased by Mykel and Meg Barthel. Mykel Barthel has owned and operated a stone quarry home-based business from his St. Mathias home for nine years. But Barthel said his St. Mathias location was too far out and he wanted to look for a place to relocate in Brainerd. The Erickson Greenhouse provided that opportunity.
Barthel said when he purchased the greenhouse he had no idea of its lengthy history in the community or how extensive its reputation was for its flowers. He said he has learned things from customers and even suppliers from out of state.
He is adding trees and shrubs to the greenhouse and plans to turn it into a full garden center with a family operation. His 12-year-old daughter is already helping with the business. The Barthels plan to update the greenhouse building. More gardening supplies and accessories will be added along with landscaping supplies such as paving stones and decorative rock. Seminars are planned to help do-it-yourselfers. Another program offers to plant gardens or containers for older people. Barthel said he wants to start a flower club and keep a quaint neighborhood type greenhouse but expand inventory offerings to stay competitive, especially when compared to discount stores that open garden centers.
Barthel said while a number of people know where the Erickson Greenhouse is because they pass it every summer on the way to the county fair, many thought it was a wholesale operation or wondered if it was open at all. Signs, picnic tables and plant displays outside are expected to help change that impression.
"We have a long road to haul just to let people know we are there," Barthel said. "That's going to be our biggest hurdle."
The greenhouse was in the Erickson family for three generations. Longtime greenhouse manager Jim Harrah is staying with the business. The name of the greenhouse will remain unchanged.
Barthel said the challenge for the future is to attract children to the gardening hobby and make the process fun. For now Barthel said there is a lot to do in terms of displays and interior updates, but they will keep at it.
Clearwater Stone, which makes specialty granite counter tops, will be located in the Pequot Lakes Industrial Park. Pequot Lakes Area Development Organization discussed expansion of the industrial park at one of its May meetings. Once off to a slow start, the industrial park use finally picked up steam.
Nisswa's gazebo, in the blueprint stages for about three years, may be closing in on becoming a physical structure. The Nisswa Chamber of Commerce announced the plans for construction of a classically designed gazebo is in the fund-raising stage for the $15,000 construction budget. The gazebo is expected to be built on Main Street, south of the city's information center and chamber building.
The chamber has received $7,200 for the gazebo so far, including what the chamber called a sizable donation from Lakewood Bank, Nisswa. The chamber stated the gazebo will be used by musical groups, other entertainment and as a resting space for Paul Bunyan Trail users. An architectural rendering of the gazebo is on display at the chamber office. For more information, go online to www.nisswa.com.
Hundreds of bankers from nearly 500 financial institutions in the state met at Cragun's Golf Resort and Conference Center last weekend for an annual convention.
Mississippi Memories art gallery, created by area artist Kathy Porwall along the river on Highway 25 just south of the Wise Road intersection, is closing at the end of July.
Nominations for the annual Tekne Awards are now open through Aug. 2. The Tekne awards are for technology leadership and innovation in the state. The Minnesota High Tech Association and Minnesota Technology Inc. are sponsors of the awards in partnership with Medical Alley, MNBIO and Minnesota Project Innovation. Winners will be announced Oct. 10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. For more information, go online to www.tekneawards.org.
Organizers report an award new to the program for the technology consulting category, which honors an emerging company (annual revenues under $50 million) and an established company or a division within an established company for innovative work that enables a client's use of technology. Other award categories are: Leadership Award, Innovative Development Award, Technology Company Award for an emerging company and an established company.
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