Artists, Makers Awarded Funds to Help Drive Traffic to Cloquet’s West End District

Funding is Going to Help Four Communities in the Northland Including Cloquet, Two Harbors, Cook, and Mahnomem

CLOQUET, Minn. – A partnership between two organizations and four Northland communities is looking to beautify rural areas in the Northland that are often forgotten about.

Leadership in the City of Cloquet is eager to get the project going with the hope of bringing revitalization to the city’s West End District.

“We have a lot of space and we have a lot of opportunities,” said Holly Hansen, community development director for the City of Cloquet.

If you notice a pop of color or extra creativity in Cloquet’s West End District, there’s no need to adjust your eyes.

“The sky is the limit,” said Emily Fuerste Swanson, executive director of the Oldenburg Arts and Cultural Community. “The project was started by a group of people who work on preserving downtowns, called Rethos.”

Rethos, based in St. Paul, works to help reimagine specific areas in a community to help bring life back to a once-thriving location.

“It just needed some creative spark to drive foot traffic and a few ideas that would spark reinvestment in the area,” said Fuerste Swanson.

With the partnership, creative minds in the communities of Cloquet, Two Harbors, Cook, and Mahnomen are now creating the unthinkable.

“We hope that we will start to see many new things pop up down here as we partner with business owners,” said Fuerste Swanson. “We just want to have a lot of exposure, a lot of activity down here.”

She helped write the proposal to seek funding for the project that will soon take off on July 1st.

“You can imagine coming out of a pandemic, this is a fun thing to do, to think of what street festivals are they going to put together down here,” said Fuerste Swanson.

The idea is to have artists and other creatives make a space full of visually appealing spots in the downtown district to attract more locals and folks just passing by.

“We have a highway network that’s cut off one area of our downtown,” said Hansen.

For Hansen, it’s a project she projects will help bring new life to the area that once was the core of the city.

“We want to showcase the fact that we have a fantastic amount of historic buildings down here, we have a lot of vacant storefronts which is not an uncommon challenge in some of our areas,” said Hansen.

She’s optimistic with the help of colorful, expressive residents; this part of town will once again become a destination for folks young and old to shop, eat, drink, and make memories.

“It would be nice to see our storefronts full, it would be nice to have more activity and that’s what we hope for as a city,” said Hansen.

Her plea is simple, and she’s excited to see what the future holds when creative minds collide.

“Think outside the box, there are no strings here, we hope to get some unique, cool ways to highlight this part of our city,” said Hansen. “Artists can sprinkle their magic down here.”

15 artists or makers in Cloquet will receive $1,000 grants to help with their project to help revitalize the West End District of Cloquet.

The art and other projects will be happening from July, through December of 2021.

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