The city of Bovey is experiencing commercial growth and change with the opening of three new businesses and plans for improved infrastructure driven by local business owners.

Ribbon cuttings took place in the month of June for businesses Smokin Guns Tattoos on 2nd Street, Hollywood Bait and Tackle on County Highway 10 and Go Green Thrift Store on 2nd Avenue in the former Enstrom studio building, famous for Bovey’s picture of “Grace”.

The ribbon cutting ceremonies were conducted by Grow Bovey, a volunteer, grassroots organization of local Bovey business owners created to promote business growth and community support. Grow Bovey was created by business owners Rachelle Ireland-Hammagren of Nana Chelle’s Cafe, Anne Marie Killian of Annabelle’s Antique Store, and Vicky Anderson of Birds of a Feather gift shop.

“We identified the need to help businesses with resources,” said Ireland-Hammargren. “There wasn’t a lot of information available to businesses and entrepreneurs to open businesses in Bovey. ... We had that knowledge and formed the group to help people.”

With assistance from Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), Grow Bovey acts as a go-to resource for community members interested in starting a businesses in Bovey.

“We often work with the county to find out which [empty buildings are] bank-owned and share [that information] with business owners. We’re always having conversations with people coming into our stores,” said Ireland-Hammargren.

Ireland-Hammargren and others took it upon themselves to form Grow Bovey as well as community group Beautiful Bovey with a separate focus on city beautification efforts such as tending to hanging plants in outdoor areas. The women began promoting their efforts and drawing in the community utilizing the social media platform Facebook. The group puts on events to draw people into Bovey like the Spring and Fall Shop Hops and winter activities. The endeavors are all volunteer, and entirely at their own expense.

“[When a new business opens] we put a welcome package together. We give them a plaque and present the ribbon cutting. ... [these efforts] are all Grow Bovey, and it’s all of us dipping into our own pockets,” said Ireland-Hammargren.

Members of Grow Bovey are actively pursuing funds utilizing the help of private non-profit CEDA (Community and Economic Development Associates) and Itasca County.

“There are a lot of grants and opportunities,” said Ireland-Hammargren. “We met with Sarah Carling of CEDA [who spent time] with local businesses ... to get organized.”

With funding the group hopes to address other concerns from the community and businesses including replacing old signage, occupying abandoned storefronts, and fixing up the bridge over Highway 169 with lighting for pedestrians and bikes.

The community group is also pursuing grant assistance from the Blandin Foundation’s Growing Communities initiative which will be awarded to two cities in Blandin’s home-giving area of Itasca County, Blackduck, Northome, Hill City and Remer. Awardees will be notified in mid-July.

“We wanted to hit both things, [assistance from CEDA as well as the Blandin Grant],” said Ireland-Hammargren.

The groups’ work has been done without city assistance but plan to bring their findings to the city in moving forward.

“The city sets the meeting, but Grow Bovey took the bull by the horns,” said Ireland-Hammargren. “We want to keep this thing going.”

For more information on Beautiful Bovey and Grow Bovey, find them on Facebook.

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