State Auditor Joins in the Hunt for Project Firefly

If the Executive Board of the Ely Area Development Agency thought they were going to clear the air regarding activities like Project Firefly by having a March Mixer where questions could be asked and answers given they were wrong. At the end of a contentious one hour meeting where the questions were many and the answers few, things were getting pretty heated when the EADA people figured we had mixed enough for one night, and all of a sudden the mixer was finished.

My reason for attending the mixer was simple. I wanted to find out more about Project Firefly, and generally find out more about the EADA and how it defines its mission. From the first I heard of Project Firefly a few years back, it sounded to me like Pat Henderson was trying to harness the power of a little of the area’s garage logic, and turn that into an advantage for Ely by bringing jobs to the area. I knew Pat Henderson and Dave Kromer were working with a few area inventors and I thought the EADA Mixer would be a good place to find out how far Project Firefly has come in five years. I wanted to hear about the inventions and how they were progressing.

Getting an idea from an inventors head to a small factory in Ely isn’t an easy thing to do. There are many issues involved and some questions like protecting an invention with a patent is a very complex process that includes global implications. In a world full of pirates waiting to plunder someone’s good idea, protecting their intellectual properties are very important in conducting good business. Loose lips sink ships. Many of the questions asked where protected by the need of secrecy. When I asked to see some kind of proof that would justify the investment of thousands of dollars, for continuing Project Firefly there was none given.

In order to justify all the time and money spent on Project Firefly one of the members of the EADA tried to explain that not only was Firefly trying to develop individual projects, but it was also trying to codify the process involved in germinating an invention that would be produced wherever a good idea was found. In essence it seemed the nature of Firefly had shifted to being more of an educational process that was being groomed to be a teaching tool that the EADA could market to the world. My concern is that before a process can be proved, it needs to produce something to demonstrate its worth. So far I see little or no worth that has come out of this very secretive project, because it hasn’t produced anything tangible. To me the EADA was putting the cart in front of the horse, and it just didn’t make sense.

I am not the only one with questions. This week the state auditor requested the same information about Project Firefly and the dealings of the EADA, that this blogger and other concerned citizens requested from the EADA weeks ago. Right now everyone is being pretty tight lipped, but keep checking on the buzz and we will let you know how things progress with Project Firefly down in St. Paul.

Mike Hillman

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