Thunder Bay

Finlandia Association's finances in much better shape after near collapse

The Finlandia Association in Thunder Bay has returned from the brink of financial collapse in much better shape than it was a month ago, according to the organization's treasurer.

Property sales, better business and crowdfunding campaign helped saved landmark from closure

The Finlandia Association is housed at the historic Finnish Labour Temple, which also includes the landmark Hoito Restaurant. The group says the association is in much better financial shape than it was a month ago. (finlandianeighbourhood.com)

The Finlandia Association in Thunder Bay has returned from the brink of financial collapse in much better shape than it was a month ago, according to the organization's treasurer.

The bottom line has improved, said Kelly Saxberg, after the association sold the Kivela Bakery and received a favourable tax reassessment for its Tapiola Trails property. Better business at the landmark Hoito Restaurant and more hall rentals at the Finlandia Club also helped.

​It was reported last month that the association was more than $700,000 in debt and the club and restaurant were at risk of closing down.

The news prompted Save the Finlandia, a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $15,000 to preserve the cultural hub.

Saxberg said the association is grateful for the support.

"There has been just a really overwhelmingly generous response from the whole community and not just in Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay, first and foremost, but all across the country and internationally people have really shown their support," she said.

Paying down debt, upgrading amenities

Business at the Hoito boomed in March, said Saxberg, although she said she can't be sure how much of that was attributed to spring break or the publicity surrounding it. Over the past year or so, she said things have been improving at the restaurant due to new management.

The money expected from the Kivela property will go towards paying down the association's debt.

Meanwhile, proceeds expected from the crowdfunding campaign will go towards upgrading the Finlandia Club's main hall.

Saxberg said improving the auditorium's amenities will make it more attractive for rentals.

"Whatever we need to do to ensure that groups like Cambrian and the 10x10 and all that have a fantastic experience, that people coming to the hall for those events, they want to come back," she said.

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