EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The pandemic closed the doors of a lot of businesses across Minnesota and stopped the printers at several small town newspapers, including one in Eden Prairie.
The former Eden Prairie Newspaper offered a physical copy of the headlines for 47 years, but printed their last page in April 2020.
"I was looking for news on who I could vote for in things like School Board and City Council, and there wasn't any information on that," said Steve Schewe, who has lived and raised his family in Eden Prairie since 1993. When he found out his city's paper folded, he wanted to be a part of bringing it back.
Schewe found a group of neighbors who had the same drive as him, and in September 2020, Eden Prairie Local News, better known as EPLN, launched online.
"For the first six months, I scratched an itch I've had since high school and wrote for the paper," Schewe said.
In the last year-and-a-half, EPLN has pumped out headlines about new developments, new hires and new roads exclusive to Eden Prairie.
"Hyper local news in this community of 65,000 is all we do," Schewe said.
With a hyper local platform, it gives EPLN the freedom to feature small businesses, and partner with them.
Amina Adeyemi is an EPLN reader, but also had her at home bakery, Veeyon Cakes, featured in a story.
"It actually put me out in the community. As a small business owner, an immigrant as well, it just put me out in the community," said Adeyemi, who is originally from Nigeria, and credits the EPLN coverage for boosting her exposure for her new business. "That small gesture created a very large impact on my business."
EPLN also partners with Smith Coffee and Cafe, off Eden Prairie Road.
"It just feels right for a coffee shop," said Alex Schuster, who is the general manager at Smith Coffee and Café. He says he hopes it helps convert coffee shop customers into new readers.
"This is our community and this is who we want to reach out to," Schuster said.
Schewe's involvement in the paper went from writer to now the publisher and president. His job is simply to share his passion for his hometown.
"Personally, for me, this is a legacy project," Schewe said. "There's so much division in the country right now, and this is an opportunity for us to pull together and understand who we are as a community and have a common identity."
In less than two years, four part-time staff, 19 freelancers and several volunteers gave this publication new life, and the publication just celebrated a milestone of 1,000 stories.
"It's just the beginning," Schewe said.
Eden Prairie Local News is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. They're able to function thanks to donations, and have a goal to raise enough money to pay their staff a full time living wage someday.
To donate to EPLN, click here.
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