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

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

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: