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Bemidji business reacting to downturn in right way

The recent front-page article on the Bemidji Woolen Mills and their plans to move the manufacturing unit back to its original smaller location was an excellent example of the kind of reaction that is needed today in our slower economy.

There's no need for panic but we do have to face the fact that things are going to change.

Bill Batchelder is keeping a level head and figuring out what needs to be done to keep his business running strongly. It does mean giving up his hopes for a vintage textile equipment museum, liquidating a portion of the Woolen Mills' merchandise, and reducing the manufacturing unit space by 10,000 square feet, but he's doing it.

After celebrating the expansion of a facility when money is plentiful, it takes a strong measure of humility to move back to the older, smaller site. It would be like a rich family buying a five-bedroom lake home when times are good and then having to swallow their pride 10 years later when they face financial straits and decide to move back to their modest three-bedroom house in town. Nobody likes to go backwards and such a noticeable change is undoubtedly going to draw questions from friends and family members. But going backwards doesn't mean you can never rebuild again, and one of the best ways to do that is to not dig yourself into a financial hole in the first place.

The Woolen Mills is setting a fantastic example -- for businesses, families and individuals -- of how to reduce expenses and save money. If Mr. Batchelder continues to run his business with the financial acumen he is showing in times like these, the Bemidji Woolen Mills will be around for many years to come.

Kalika Peske