The Ranger - July 10

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

The Ranger 

July 10, 2019

Commercial lot redeveloped for tourism in Silver Bay

Alice Tibbetts and Phil Huston

An aerial forest ropes climbing course with six separate trails and 75 elements, including 10 zip lines recently opened in Silver Bay. The Adventure Park on the North Shore is the only course of its kind in Minnesota and offers challenge levels for beginners to experienced climbers.

The park is located on land that is a gateway entry point into Silver Bay and was formerly home to a SPUR gas station. A group of four investors purchased the SPUR land and cleaned up the pollution. Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation provided a Commercial Redevelopment grant to the city to demolish the gas station. The business Adventure Investors Minnesota (AIM) then purchased an adjacent parcel owned by the city and MNDOT to develop the ropes course.

AIM owners Phil Huston and Alice Tibbetts have experience in the Minnesota real estate industry and once lived in Silver Bay. Now residents of Duluth, they spotted opportunity at the Silver Bay location.

“Alice and I have spent a lot of time kayaking, biking, hiking and snowshoeing along the North Shore,” said Huston. “The Silver Bay property was underutilized and an eyesore at the community’s gateway. As an avid climber I saw the potential for a unique climbing experience.”

Phil Huston and Annika Truebenbach

The ropes course is designed for people ages seven and up. Harnesses and safety equipment are provided, along with a demonstration. Trained staff monitor the park and assist guests as needed. There is also a mini course designed for children ages three to six.

AIM utilized “Opportunity Zones” to partially help finance the project. It is a community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income and urban communities nationwide. Silver Bay is one of nine census tracts within the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation service area that is a designated Opportunity Zone.

“The Adventure Park is an excellent example of economic partnership among the city of Silver Bay, our agency and private sector business,” said Mark Phillips, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation commissioner. “Phil, Alice and their partners developed an excellent recreation business that created jobs, improved the entry to Silver Bay and is growing tourism revenue in the region.”

The park’s location in Silver Bay centrally places it between Duluth, Grand Marias and the Iron Range. Nearby amenities include the Silver Bay Marina, Silver Bay Golf Course, and the new Black Beach campground scheduled to open next year. There is an abundance of biking, hiking, ATV and snowmobile trails, as well as four state parks including Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, Tettegouche and Temperance River.

Young people at Adventure Park

An ATV/snowmobile trail runs through the park’s property. Huston approved a permanent easement through his property so that the trail could stay intact and not be re-routed. According to Huston, the trail creates a physical connection between the ropes course, the new campground, the trailhead and the city’s adjacent business park. 

AIM has future plans to expand the park by adding a building with retail and tourist services, with hopes to reopen rock climbing on the Eleanor, a natural vertical rock formation located on the property.

According to Explore Minnesota, tourism in the state is a $15 billion industry. The Adventure Park on the North Shore is now a part of that economic engine and is open May through October.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation’s grants are funded through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development provided Silver Bay a Contamination Cleanup grant. Email Chris Ismil or call him at 218-735-3010 for grant information.

Pictured above from top to bottom: 

Park owners Alice Tibbetts and Phil Huston.

Owner and avid climber Phil Huston completes the most difficult course: Black Storm. He is pictured with Park Operations Supervisor Annika Truebenbach.

Youth climbing in the park.

Career skills training offered to people with disabilities

Grand Rapids MDI Employee

MDI is offering career skills training to its employees and other people with disabilities. The training focuses on professional skill development including a positive attitude, teamwork, receiving constructive criticism, work ethic, communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, time management, flexibility and self-confidence.

MDI is a non-profit manufacturer of standard and custom corrugated plastic as well as a provider of assembly and environmental services. For over 50 years, MDI has provided meaningful employment in an inclusive environment with nearly half of its 400 employees being people with disabilities. It has four locations throughout Minnesota including Cohasset, Grand Rapids, Hibbing and Minneapolis. MDI also provides job placement assistance to help people with disabilities secure employment at area businesses that pay a competitive wage.

The work skills training program was originally launched in 2017, and 100 MDI employees and community members successfully completed it to date. Through a partnership with Advanced Minnesota, training is open to MDI employees, members of the public, and area high school students with disabilities who are approaching graduation and in need of assistance with transition to employment. An additional 80 people are expected to complete the training this year to gain enhanced skills for successful job performance and placement.

“Job openings across the region are rapidly increasing, and people with disabilities are an underutilized talent source that can help meet the workforce shortage,” said Gail Anderson of Advanced Minnesota. “People with disabilities are employed at rates lower than any other group in the state and face some of the highest poverty rates.”

Hibbing MDI Employee

The unemployment rate in Minnesota was 3.3% as of May 2019; however, employment trends and historical data suggest that it is likely more than double that among the disabled population. (Sources: DEED, American Community Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

“We are very pleased to partner with MDI to create better employment opportunities and expanded curriculum for all sectors of the workforce,” said Anderson. “For the disabled population in northeastern Minnesota, gainful employment means independence, responsibility, and well-earned pride.”

MDI employee Del explained: “People treat me differently when they see the surgery scars on my head, yet I am still the same person inside. I didn’t even know a place like MDI existed. Together we work as a team getting product out the door, and that is important to me. For my kids, they see Dad is working again and thriving. The last thing I want them to think is Dad has a brain injury and is unable to move beyond it.”

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported this program with a Workforce Development grant through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. Other program partners include Advanced Minnesota, Northeast Higher Education District, Otto Bremer Trust, Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training, Northland Foundation, Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, and Enbridge. Email Jeanne Eglinton or call her at 651-999-8283 to learn more about the training.

Pictured above are employees at MDI's Grand Rapids and Hibbing operations. 

Matilda The Musical set to open in Eveleth

Matilda The Musical Logo

Mesabi Musical Theatre's production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical opens in Eveleth later this month. 

Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, this Tony Award-winning musical is the captivating masterpiece from the Royal Shakespeare Company that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world.

Matilda The Musical is a joyous girl power romp, packed with high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.
Performances will be held at the Boardman Auditorium at Eveleth-Gilbert High School July 24-26 at 7 p.m. and July 28 at 2 p.m.

Mesabi Musical Theatre is a regional, non-profit organization whose mission is to involve community members in summer theatre and to bring the best of Broadway to the Iron Range.

Get additional details and ticket information.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported this project with a Culture & Tourism grant through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. For grant information email Danae Beaudette or call her at 218-735-3022.

Goodland Township completes addition to community center and fire hall

Goodland Township Fire Hall

Goodland recently completed an addition to its community center and attached fire hall. Three new stalls were added to the Fire Hall to create storage and maintenance space for rescue equipment and vehicles, as well as shower, washing and drying facilities for firefighters to remove possible hazardous materials after fighting a fire.

Goodland is located in southeast Itasca County. The Goodland Volunteer Fire Department provides fire protection, first response medical and rescue operations to Goodland, Warba, Feely, Wawina, Cedar Valley Township and areas of Floodwood. The volunteer firefighters provide medical treatment for accidents that occur on highways, snowmobile and ATV trails.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation supported this project with a Community Infrastructure grant through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry.

Photo credit: Goodland Fire Department

Improvements made to Fayal Township community tennis courts

Fayal Tennis Court

Eveleth Area Community Foundation received a Culture & Tourism grant to  resurface and color-coat the Fayal Township community tennis courts, as well as replace nets and poles.

The courts, located in Fayal’s recreation complex, are used by youth athletes, adults and seniors for both tennis and pickleball. They offer local residents healthy recreation options and improve the quality of life in our region.

For grant information email Danae Beaudette or call her at 218-735-3022.

Grant opportunities to strengthen northeastern Minnesota

Grant Logo

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation invests resources to foster vibrant growth and economic prosperity in northeastern Minnesota. The following grant programs are accepting applications through July 31 for the fiscal year 2020 funding cycle:

  • Business Energy Retrofit (BER) – Assists small businesses with 100 employees or less with energy efficiency improvements to their buildings. Businesses may be awarded up to one-third of the project cost (or up to $20,000). Eligible projects are related to lighting and fixtures, building envelope air sealing, appliances/motors/equipment, insulation and ventilation, heating and cooling, windows and door replacements, and renewable energy.
  • Downtown Business Rehabilitation (DBR) - Assists area downtown businesses with code compliance construction and remodeling projects. Businesses may be awarded up to one-third of the project cost (or up to $50,000). Eligible projects are related to code compliance with general construction, electrical, plumbing, elevators, ADA, lead and asbestos removal, mechanical and sprinklers. Up to 10% of the grant may be used for professional assistance such as architectural, engineering and design.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation funds the BER and DBR programs through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry, and the programs are administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). Click here to learn more about DBR and here to learn more about BER, or email Vince Meyer at AEOA or call him at 218-735-6828.

The Ranger is a publication of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation. Our mission is to invest resources to foster vibrant growth and economic prosperity in northeastern Minnesota.