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Frontline Reflections: Ron Maki

Ron Maki owns and operates the Locker Room Bar & Grill in Coleraine, Minn. This year Ron took out a loan from the IEDC Small Business Relief Loan Fund to assist with the impacts of COVID-19 on his business. In 2020, Blandin Foundation repurposed more than $1.6 million in investments to establish loan funds for small businesses across the Itasca area.

“The impact of COVID-19 on my business is felt across our community. The Locker Room is a community meeting place. It’s where people gather before the big game. It’s where high schoolers come and grab a quick basket of fries and pop with friends. It’s where we connect with family over the holidays. We no longer have that. The pandemic hit us hard right at the beginning and it hasn’t stopped.

Though people across our community are living through financial and mental stressors, especially during the holidays, it’s amazing to see how people have showed up for us and for each other during this year. We’ve received cards of support from friends and neighbors. We’ve seen people spending hundreds of dollars a week to help keep local businesses afloat. The community has been overwhelmingly supportive and, without them, we would have been dead in the water months ago. It’s a testament to how much people depend on a local watering hole.

As we turn to 2021, I’m looking forward to nobody else getting sick. Safety of our community is always number one. And I’m looking forward to seeing cars in front of the bar again. We’re not out of the woods yet, but if we can find new ways to support our businesses, we can make it through.”

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