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Wintergreen owners featured at White House

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross poses for a photo in the White House Monday with Susan and Paul Schurke, owners of Wintergreen Northern Wear and Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely. The two displayed Wintergreen products at the Made in America event at the White House and had hoped tell President Donald Trump to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Photo courtesy of Susan and Paul Schurke

Although Susan Schurke never got to tell President Donald Trump in person just how important the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was to her business — and why he should oppose copper-nickel mining in the area — she managed to express it in front of a nationwide audience Monday.

Schurke, owner of Wintergreen Northern Wear in Ely, was invited by the Trump Administration to represent Minnesota in Monday's Made in America event at the White House. Along with her husband Paul, Susan Schurke had planned to confront Trump about the issue, but the president only spoke to Made in America attendees as a group and the Schurkes didn't have a chance.

But after the event, Schurke was interviewed on the Fox Business Network and found her chance.

When "Making Money" host Charles Payne asked Schurke what she'd like to see Trump do for small businesses, she responded, "Personally I would like to see Trump give more attention to the public lands or these areas where the outdoor industry is growing so rapidly."

But the Made in America event wasn't without quiet protest from the couple.

In a booth displaying Wintergreen's outdoor apparel, a sign bearing the American flag proclaimed "America's Public Lands Build Business!" to anyone passing by. That included Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, who politely listened to the couple's concerns and posed for photos with them — the public lands sign included in each frame, Paul Schurke said.

"I think we did the best we could today," he said in a phone interview with the News Tribune after the event.

Paul knows Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina saw the interview too — the two sat next to each other in the green room as Susan's interview aired.

Overall, Paul said it was great to be with other small-business owners who also value making their products in the U.S.

Despite their ideological differences, Trump's speech with a theme of "it really matters where things are made," resonated with Paul.

"It was really a beautiful event," Susan said on Fox.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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