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Businesses In Northern Minnesota Prepare For Another Summer With Canadian Border Closed

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) -- For the second straight year, Minnesotans are adapting to a closed Canadian border.

Many businesses in International Falls rely on tourist dollars coming in from both sides.

As a business owner on the border, Mike Jerulle depends on local dollars. But he also depends on money coming in from another country.

"There are quite a few businesses that have already closed. There are only three or four restaurants that are still open in International Falls," Jerulle said. "Twenty-percent of our business at the Chocolate Moose are Canadians who come across the border to eat at our restaurant."

International Falls
(credit: CBS)

Local, state and federal dollars have helped keep the Chocolate Moose open. But Jerulle said lawmakers in Canada recently told northern Minnesota businesses that they should prepare for another summer with the border closed. That means missing out on money for the upcoming Minnesota and Canadian fishing openers.

"We had a long discussion and the end result is, until they get more shots in Ontario, that border is not going to open," Jerulle said.

International Falls Canadian Border
(credit: CBS)

In addition to some restaurants, hotels are another business that relies on back and forth fishing and tourism. They too are struggling. But that's not the case with everyone, like Aaron Shuff, co-owner of Sportsmen's Service.

"It wasn't a great season but it was definitely survivable," Shuff said.

He said what saved his store is that people switched from Ontario to nearby Rainy Lake for fishing. Resorts there also flourished. While inventory for some products is low, he said they'll get by until normalcy returns.

"We all want to see our Canadian friends and we do a lot of business with Canadians," Shuff said. "Definitely would like to have that trade back across the border."

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