Project Firefly at the EADA business mixer

There was tension in the air at the EADA meet and greet meeting that felt like lightening building in a gathering storm. I was a little early, and after greeting several of the board members, I took my seat at one of the two tables in the board room of the Technology Center. Both WELY and Ely TV were there, and the EADA was there to discuss Project Firefly. I was there to finally find out just what Project Firefly was, and what it was going to do to benefit Ely. I was a gadfly looking for a Firefly. I could almost see it glimmer and fade off in the distance, and I heard a lot about it, but I never got a good look at it. Essentially I wanted to know how two hundred thousand dollars of grant money was spent, and to what purpose it was spent. The meeting was conducted by Bill Roloff who acted as a spokesperson for Project Firefly. I can tell you Project Firefly is there to help local inventors working on potentially important projects that if nurtured to fruition, may someday create jobs in Ely in the not too distant future. I can not tell you who those people are or just what inventions they are working on. I asked about patents and they told me be patient. Being a gadfly I pressed to know something of just what those projects were. I was told it was none of my business, because it is a private matter between the EADA and the inventors. By the end of the hour the meeting had reached a point of calling all this interest in Firefly, and how the money was spent, was nothing but a witch hunt against Bill Roloff. I wasn’t hunting Bill Roloff, I was chasing fireflies. I am still chasing Firefly.

2 comments to Project Firefly at the EADA business mixer

  • Ed Horvat

    I watched the EADA meet and greet meeting also, and for pretty much the first time in my life I agreed with Mike Hillman. He was asking some pretty simple questions that were not getting answered. Bill Roloff came across as a pompus idiot. The arrogence in his speaking was not called. This is public money that they are playing with. Not once did Hillman ask for someones invention. He was asking for more info. to tell the people it is a good program. And yes Bill, what you get paid is public knowledge. The EADA needs to shut this program down now before it ruins the rest of its reputation.

  • Mike Hillman

    Disjointed Powers; If it weren’t for dysfunction; the entire Firefly Project would have malfunctioned or not functioned at all. I learned a lot of history from a beagle and a be-speckled kid on the old Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Sherman would ask Mr. Peabody a question, and before you know it, they would fire up The Way Back Machine and travel back in time to watch live history. One of the big questions people on the city council wonder to this very day is why didn’t they make Ely bigger when they incorporated as a city back in April of 1888.

    The reason the current council ponders such things is that occasionally they want to do things like have room for a new business to locate within the city limits or a new housing project might be needed to answer for changing demographics. The truth is that right now there isn’t a lot of space to put much more into the City of Ely, because we are nearly maxed out for building space. Ely is surrounded by the Town of Morse, and in order to expand, Ely needs the cooperation of the Town of Morse to do it. Currently the chances of that happening seem to be between slim and none.

    The reason Ely is as small as it is, was that back in 1888 all that mattered to the Ely City Council was that Ely be big enough to tax the iron within city limits. There was lots of money made from taxing that iron. The original town ran from Camp to Harvey Street, north to south; and from Central Avenue to Whiteside Park, east to west. When they found out the iron deposit ran the length and width of Miners Lake; that’s how big they made Ely. The taxes on the iron made Ely a very rich little place. The money ran out when they stopped mining in 1967. Things haven’t been the same since after Ely’s main tax base dried up. Things like local government aid have helped places like Ely limp along as best it could, but now with the State of Minnesota in financial trouble that local LGA Funding will be cut again.
    The reason we tried a Joint Powers Government back in 1996 was to make an attempt for local governments to work loosely together in a confederation under the direction of a board made up of paying members of a Joint Powers Board that would work for better cooperation between local area governments. Ely, Winton, Town of Morse, School Board, even Tower and Babbitt it was hoped would some day join the Joint Powers Board. It was like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and it was a noble idea that had no real power behind it. The Joint Powers Board never had any real authority to govern any hybrid agency like the EADA. Since its inception in 1996 the EADA hasn’t developed much to show for all the thousands of dollars the City of Ely paid this Agency for Economic Development over its fifteen year history. When the city council finally withdrew their funding for the EADA, they effectively ended both the Joint Powers Board and the EADA, and now The Ely City Council needs to move in a new direction for future economic development.

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