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Evers talks shop at Superior businesses

Gov. Tony Evers said his takeaways from the Superior visit are the enthusiasm and resiliency of small-business owners.

Gov. Evers talking.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers talks to Superior Mayor Jim Paine while having lunch at Superior Waffles on Tuesday, July 19, as state Sen. Janet Bewley and Superior City Councilor Tylor Elm listen.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — Gov. Tony Evers got a chance to meet with local officials and business leaders Tuesday, July 19, during a trip to Superior.

After lunch at Superior Waffles, Evers made his way up and down Tower Avenue to see how small businesses in the city are faring after the COVID-19 pandemic. Stops included Blue Arrow Boutique, Cedar Barn, Framing by Stengl, Jamrock and Sweeden Sweets, where the governor was greeted by youth from the Boys & Girls Club.

Woman talking to Gov. Evers.
Blue Arrow Boutique store manager Halie Mackie talks with Gov. Tony Evers during his tour of businesses along Tower Avenue on Tuesday, July 19.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Superior Waffles was among more than 5,200 businesses statewide to receive a Main Street Bounceback Grant, and Sweeden Sweets received grants in phase one and two of the We’re All In program.

The grants were designed to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which hire about 52% of workers.

The pandemic made it difficult for a lot of people to make a living, Evers said, and the grant programs helped.

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However, the governor said not all of the businesses he visited Tuesday were grant recipients.

“I’ve really seen how energetic and energized small businesses are now,” Evers said. “They have great vision and know what they want to do moving forward. Obviously, it’s whatever we can do to help that resiliency, good planning … there are a lot of things going well.”

Over lunch, the governor heard from local officials about the challenges facing the city and Superior schools.

Mayor Jim Paine said he really felt heard as he talked about the need for high-speed, less-expensive broadband after the governor mentioned the need to the media in the area.

“We’re trying to change the conversation a little bit to point out that the digital divide is in cities,” Paine said.

While he acknowledged that some rural residents don’t have access at all, Paine said it's in cities where people who can’t afford internet or who can only afford slower speeds have less access than rural communities.

During a meeting in June, city officials learned that designs for a proposed $31 million municipal-owned fiber optic network are 50% complete. The city has allocated $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the project.

Gov. Evers walking in Superior.
Gov. Tony Evers walks between Tower Avenue businesses in Superior on Tuesday, July 19.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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