Pine Innovation Center Opens Its Doors

PTC Incubator Rendering March 2014Compelled by what’s been erected along the main drag through town?  East Central Minnesota has a new business incubator and it’s location is superb at corner of the busiest two cross streets in Pine City, Main Street and County Road 7 (Hillside Avenue).

According to a fact sheet put out by Pine Technical College, business incubators are meant to nurture the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the start-up and expansion periods, when they are most vulnerable.  These programs provide their client companies with business support services and resources tailored to young and growing firms.  The most common goals of incubation programs are creating jobs in a community, enhancing a community’s entrepreneurial climate, retaining businesses in a community, building or accelerating growth in a local industry, and diversifying local economies.

Incubators are a combination of a physical facility and the services provided.  Often the rent is reduced for the first one-to-three years of occupancy for a business locating in the incubator, and the services initially are either free or at a reduced price.  There are over 1,400 incubators in North America, and the strategy originated in the late 1970s.

Do they work?

  • The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) estimates that, in 2005 alone, North American incubators assisted more than 27,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for more than 100,000 workers and generated annual revenue of more than $17 billion.
  • Business incubators reduce the risk of small business failures.  Historically, NBIA member incubators have reported that 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business.  The usual success rate for new companies is only about 50%, according to the Small Business Administration.
  • NBIA members have reported that 84 percent of incubator graduates stay in their communities.
  • A study by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects such as industrial parks.  The U.S. Economic Development Administration rates incubators as their most effective investment in terms of job creation.

What is the Pine Innovation Center? Continue reading

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New Book Honors Pine City’s Legendary Locals

  • Local author celebrates notable residents using vintage images
Final Cover Legendary Locals

Nathan Johnson is a fifth generation Pine City native and the author of Images of America: Pine City. A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Johnson is a member of the Historical Society of Pine County and is currently working as the Community Development Director for the City of Pine City. This is his second book with Arcadia Publishing.

A new local history book reveals the intriguing characters and everyday citizens who have made Pine City’s history legendary.  Legendary Locals of Pine City shares the stories of unique individuals and groups, past and present, who have had a lasting impact on the community throughout its history.

Vintage images coupled with facts and anecdotes culled by local author Nathan Johnson reveal the fascinating history of legendary locals in Pine City.  Settled along the banks of the Snake River and Cross Lake, visitors flock to Pine City to take in the breathtaking landscapes and local traditions that residents have the pleasure of experiencing every day.

“This book isn’t about dignitaries who have visited Pine City, or notable people who made history while passing through—it is about the people who claim Pine City as [an integral] part of their story,” said author Nathan Johnson.

The book covers both town greats and unsung heroes like Denise Nelsen, the first female firefighter in Pine City and the 1990 winner of the Ms. Natural Minnesota bodybuilding competition; Bob Haedt, the woodworker who found his true calling as Pine City’s resident Santa Clause; and Anna Dickie Olesen, the first woman to serve on the Democratic National Committee, and later, to run for the United States Senate.

Johnson is excited to share the new book with locals.  “I think people will
recognize the vast majority of people in the book, but some may be lesser
known because our community has not celebrated them yet.  My hope is
that this book honors each one,” he said.

The book will be available at events, area bookstores, independent retailers,
online retailers, and through the publisher at or

Legendary Locals is an imprint of Arcadia Publishing, the nation’s leading
publisher of local and regional history in the United States.  Discover more
than 8,500 books on the heritage of America’s people and places.

Q&A with Author

Continue reading

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Become a member of Pine Center for the Arts!

Spring Membership Drive Flier

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Pine City accepts GreenStep Challenge

  • Zach Borich to intern to help bring about distinction

Zach BorichThe Pine City City Council committed the City to becoming a GreenStep City, a voluntary, three-year program started by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

“The Green Step process is designed to speed learning and focus on teamwork in the community,” explained Bill Mittlefehldt, Northeast Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Coordinator, at the March 5 council meeting.

Mittlefehldt helped place an intern, Zach Borich, in Pine City to help the community accept the challenge, offer assistance and achieve the status.  A 2011 Pine City High School graduate, Borich is now a University of Minnesota-Duluth student where he is seeking an Environmental Sustainability major, and double minor in Geographic Information Science and Geography, respectively.

“[Zach] is working closely with the city leaders to help plan a more sustainable infrastructure for the city at a critical time,” asserted Mittlefehldt. “When I saw Zach’s application for the internship—his work on environmental issues and leadership with GIS skills—it seemed a perfect fit with the needs of Pine City.”

As a GreenStep City, Pine City must implement at least 12 of the MPCA’s 28 identified environmental best practices.  Categories include:  buildings and lighting, transportation, environmental management, economic and community development, and land use.  Fortunately, the city didn’t start from scratch, as it had already begun implementing some of the best practices before the council even made it official.

“GreenStep best practices will result in multiple benefits for Pine City, and the continuous work with these best practices will help make our city more sustainable,” said Borich.

To become involved in the GreenStep process, contact Community Development Director/Planner Nathan Johnson at (320) 629-2575, ext. 105.  For more information about GreenStep, visit:

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Class This Saturday at the Art Center


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Sandstone Ice Wall featured on “Live to the Max”

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3-Day Drive for Urgent Needs

Winter storms across the country have impacted the nation’s blood supply with cancelled blood drives and missed donation appointments due to weather and illness. Blood donations are needed now to support patients in need – both here at home and at blood banks on the East coast.  We are asking for your help!

  • Come & Donate: It takes 1 hour to save 3 lives!
  •  All types are needed, but especially types 
  • O+, O-,  A- and B-.
  •  Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred


Memorial Blood Centers will be available for 3 consecutive days in the Pine City area.  Choose one of these dates and locations:

Today 2/18 we are parked at Chris’s Food Center until 6:00pm

Tomorrow 2/19 we are parked at Pine Technical College from 10:00am – 4:00pm

Thursday 2/20 we are parked at Pine City High School from 8:00am – 2:30pm


Contact Michele Keil for an appointment (218) 340-9196

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Dance, Ski, Skate and More this Weekend!

Saturday, Feb. 8

North West Company Fur Post, 12551 Voyageur Lane, Pine City
Enjoy an evening of early 19th-century entertainment with a lively country dance. Country dancing, a pastime frequently mentioned by Jane Austen, was a favorite evening diversion for the genteel classes in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Dance steps will be taught and called at the ball. During a mid-dance break visitors will enjoy a selection of delicious refreshments. Period or semi-formal attire is requested.   For reservations, call (320) 629-6356.

West Side Park, 6th Avenue SW & 13th Street SW, Pine City
This tournament, started by a group of local hockey enthusiasts, raises funds to support the hockey community; it is sponsored in part by Coor’s Light, Ice Hole Schnapps, Bernick’s Pepsi, Monster Energy Drinks, and Boa Athletics.  Each player registered will receive a “goodie bag”  with coupons to local stores, restaurants, and bars during their stay in Pine City.  It is a 3-on-3  style tournament with each team being able to roster up to seven skaters of men and women over 18 years of age.  Each team is guarenteed four games, which start at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.  There will be a deejay at the pond all weekend and a live band Saturday night.

Grand Casino Events and Convention Center, 777 Lady Luck Drive, Hinckley
Remember “Chantilly Lace”, or “Donna”?  Hear those songs and others as you warm up from the frigid winter at this unforgettable event.  John Mueller’s Winterdance Party is a tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.  Two shows – 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Call (320) 384-7771 for more info or visit 

Off I-35, exit 195, follow signs to park, near Sandstone
From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Banning State Park, ski on trails lit by candles or luminaries.  The trail for this event is two miles long and suitable for beginner-level skiers of all ages.  A vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit). Those who don’t already have a Minnesota state parks vehicle permit ( can purchase one at the park office.  A Great Minnesota Ski Pass ($6/day, $20/one season, $55/three season) allows cross-country skiers age 16 or older to access miles of trails in state parks or forests or on grant-in-aid trails ( Passes can be purchased at the park.

Sunday, Feb. 9

Various sites, Mora
300 skiers and thousands of others descend on nearby Mora for a variety of ski-related events including a 58km Relay, 35km and 13km freestyle races, and a 42km classic-only race.  This is one of four Vasaloppet races in the Word (Sweden, Japan and China have the others).  Spectators can see the end of the race in downtown Mora on Union Street, the town’s main street.  Plenty of Vassalopet events going on all weekend:  Click here.

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Local college changes name, expands mission


An Autumn Scene at Pine Technical and Community College

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved on January 22nd an expansion in the mission of Pine Technical College to a comprehensive technical and community college. The change enables the college to offer, perhaps as early as the Fall, the Associate in Arts degree. To reflect this change, the Board also approved a change in the name of the institution to Pine Technical and Community College. The change in mission will also require approval of the Higher Learning Commission, at which time the name change will become effective.

“The mission expansion, coupled with this name change, empowers the college to continue its record of service and program excellence,” said Robert Musgrove, President of Pine Tech. “A balanced offering of liberal arts and sciences and workforce programs is a critical need in our region.”

The new mission will remove barriers that prevent students from taking advantage of higher education due to location or financial issues. “We can now allow undecided students to enroll with a declared major in the Associate in Arts degree and maintain eligibility for financial aid while they are exploring degree and career options,” said Musgrove. “This change will allow us to provide an extraordinary education to more students in our region seeking a broader range of excellent educational experiences.”

In making this change, Pine Tech will retain its focus on serving the needs of students seeking a technical degree. “Our history, heritage, and culture have centered on technical education, and this change will not diminish that focus,” said Musgrove.

The college’s change request to the MnSCU Board also substantiated the need for the expansion by pointing out the low rate of degree attainment in the region.  Each year according to the data, almost 70% of 10th graders in the region intend, at that stage of their lives, to seek a bachelor’s degree.  However, the reality is that only around 40%  of graduates in the region actually do enroll after graduation.

“That translates to over 770 high school graduates each year who do not enroll in college – even though they said as 10th graders that they wanted a career that requires a bachelor’s degree,” PTC Dean of Students Paula Hoffman explained.  “We hope to provide initial access to that degree through our AA for as many of those students as we can reach.”

For further information about PTC’s mission expansion and name change, contact Katie Krier at 320-629-5174, or; Paula Hoffman at; Robert Musgrove at320-629-5120, or

Pine Technical College, established in 1965 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, serves more than 1,300 students and awards certificates, diplomas and associate degrees. PTC’s notable programs include Accounting, American Sign Language, Automotive Technology, Business Administration, Business Technology, Computer Programming, Computer Science, Early Childhood Education, Gunsmithing Technology, Computer Network Administration, Practical Nursing, Registered Nursing, Precision Manufacturing/Machining, Automation/Robotics Technology, Plastics Technology, Medical Assisting, Human Services Eligibility Worker and many more.

Pine Tech is accepting applications for new students in all programs. For more information about PTC’s programs, including information regarding how to apply, call 320-629-5100 or visit the website at

PTC is a proud member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, which include 24 two-year community, technical, and comprehensive colleges and seven state universities serving more than 430,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system of its kind in the United States.

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Heritage Players’ comedy set to open


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