To the Editor,

Justin and I moved to Henning in 2005 to open our fiberglass manufacturing business. When we moved here, we had no thoughts of building a business with a physical location in Henning. We assumed we would just keep our small shop out at our house. Plans changed when our business outgrew that building so we looked at industrial parks to build. We looked in Perham and New York Mills, but ultimately decided to stay in Henning, where we purchased a lot in the industrial park so we could build our business locally. At that time our kids were small. Emmalyn was in 1st grade. When deciding where to send our children to school, we thought maybe it would be better to belong to a larger school district, but we decided we liked what Henning had to offer.  We hoped we would come to know the teachers and a lot of the families easier than in a larger school district and that has proven true. Despite the great faculty and amazing families, as our kids are growing and have gotten more involved in the school, we have noticed the updates and renovations this school so desperately needs. 

This referendum is important for the Henning community and its future. Through the years, many employees we have hired have moved their families to this community and now call Henning their home. We employ 10-15 people on average through our business.  Since we are a small employer, we are optimistic that the community and school stay vibrant so we can continue to attract employees to this area and our business. The school is Henning’s largest employer with 77 employees, not including school board members, coaches and substitute teachers. If you are considering voting no, please pause and consider the impact on our community if we lost our biggest employer. Fifty-five of the school employees live in the district and they have 59 kids that go to Henning School.  We currently have 55 kids who live outside of our school district but that choose to open enroll here. That is 55 kids who could easily go to any school around us if our community doesn’t prioritize what the district has identified as needs and priorities.  

When you own a home, you naturally fix things that need fixing. A lot of band aids are usually used until eventually it needs replacing. Our school is the same way. We have placed many band aids around the school and now is the time to make repairs beyond band aids.  

From when we started our business 18 years ago to present day, we have seen many drastic changes in our industry, especially in the last three years. As an employer, you must find ways to move with the changing times. We have developed new technologies to improve the way we produce our products. With open-enrollment, schools are businesses to some degree now too.  I can’t imagine what the school has to do to make sure we are competitive to keep kids in our district and to attract kids to our school. The way our kids learn is so different now compared to when I went to school. Our kids deserve better than what the facility at Henning School is currently able to offer.  Kids spend a better part of their lives before the age of 18 at school. 

We can keep kicking the can down the road, but if we keep doing so, the costs will keep rising and the needs will only become more intense. Now is the time to invest in the future of our kids and to invest in our community. As a small business owner, I recognize we have the highest tax burden in Henning and yet we are fully and completely in support of this referendum and plan.  We recognize that the benefits of a safe, vibrant school and a strong, booming community will ultimately have positive fiscal impacts on our business with the bonus of investing in the education and experience of our kids.  Please vote yes, yes! 

Lara and Justin Bergstrom

Master Composites Inc