Tourism is a big deal to Minnesota's economy and summer is an especially crucial time. So we were intrigued by a recent note from Steve Piragis, an outfitter in Ely on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and someone who keeps us posted regularly on the economy of northern Minnesota.
Steve, part of our Public Insight Network, told us:
In a poor economy Ely and the Boundary Waters Wilderness seem to be popular vacation choices. Reservations for canoe trips and spending on wilderness related gear is up this year once again.
Is it because the canoe trip is a relatively inexpensive vacation choice or is it the back to nature experience that people crave in troubled times? For whatever reason it appears that the northwoods will have a very good summer economy once again reflecting what has happened in other recessions.
I'd be interested in hearing from others in Minnesota's tourism and travel business if they're seeing seeing the same thing as Steve.
Below are some recent responses from Minnesotans telling us what they're spending or not spending on these days. You can help by telling us your own leisure spending plans this summer.
When someone describes their current economic outlook as "bright" these days, it's worth a deeper look.
Chris Erickson of Minneapolis saw it as bright after recently discovering the family home's eligible for a Home Affordable Refinance that could save "a couple hundred dollars each month and tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the course of the loan."
It's part of the federal government's efforts to help eligible homeowners refinance their mortgages. Officials say as many as 9 million families may be eligible to refinance or modify their loans to an "affordable" payment. These are folks who because of the current market turmoil might not otherwise be able to refinance.
But we hadn't really come across anyone trying to make it work. Erickson, who's part of our Public Insight Network, said:
I heard about it from a friend who was told about it by his real estate agent. You deal with a mortgage broker or bank and there are typical closing costs. It is for people who have jobs and good credit but low equity.
The program allows you to refinance your mortgage or mortgages at the current rates with as little as a 95% loan to property value ratio and not have to pay PMI (private mortgage insurance).
You have to be current on your current mortgage and it has to be owned by one of the two big federally supported mortgage giants, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Think you may be eligible? Check here to find out.
Erickson will keep us posted on the process. I'll pass on any updates but it seems like a good deal if you can make it work.
Below are some other recent responses we got from Public Insight Network folks re: Housing and mortgage issues. Take a look then share a story with us.