The Ranger - Dec. 12

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

The Ranger 

Dec. 12, 2019

Entrepreneur opens Hibbing’s first co-working space

TechTank Clients

Entrepreneur Karine Woodman established TechTank, Hibbing’s first co-working space that is shared by several workers from different organizations and companies. The arrangement enables cost savings for the member occupants through common infrastructure related to utilities, broadband and office equipment.

Woodman purchased a 3,500-square-foot building near the city’s downtown business corridor to launch TechTank. She completely renovated the interior and exterior and utilized a Business Energy Retrofit (BER) grant to help pay for upgrades to the HVAC systems.

TechTank Main Room

TechTank members have access to contemporary work spaces, fiber optic internet, printing services, private rooms, conference rooms with meeting tools such as TVs, teleconference equipment and whiteboard walls. There is free parking, indoor and outdoor collaboration space and educational events. Monthly, daily and yearly memberships are available, and members have round-the-clock access to the secure work space. Two conference rooms are also available for half and full-day rental with seating to accommodate up to 16 people.

According to Small Business Trends, experts estimated that 1,000 new co-working spaces opened in the United States during 2018, and almost 700 are expected to open by the end of this year.

TechTank Client

“Not only is TechTank a practical solution for office space, particularly for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and freelancers, it is also a place where business professionals can collaborate, network with each other and cultivate their business,” said Woodman.

TechTank is home to Woodman’s other business 24hr Bookkeeper, and there is ample room for more occupants. 24hr Bookkeeper is an outsourced accounting firm that provides cloud-based services. Woodman founded it in 2010 and grew it into a globally-recognized firm with clients nationwide predominately in the construction management industry. 24hr Bookkeeper has eight employees, some of whom work within the TechTank building.

TechTank Conference Room

“I wanted to bring a big city amenity to our small community," said Woodman. “I’m a real-life example that living in a small town does not limit your potential for success. You can grow on a large level no matter where you live.”

Since BER’s inception in 2013, 309 grants have been awarded to help small businesses with energy efficiency upgrades that can result in reduced utility bills, improved building aesthetics and increased building life. BER is funded by Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation and administered through a partnership with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA). To learn more email Vince Meyer at AEOA or call him at 218-735-6828.

Phillips reappointed to Center for Rural Policy and Development

Commissioner Mark Phillips

Gov. Tim Walz reappointed Commissioner Mark Phillips to be the Regional County Government Representative for the Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD). Phillips was
first appointed to serve in this position by Gov. Mark Dayton.

CRPD identifies social and economic issues in rural Minnesota and, through alliances and partnerships, provides research and information on current issues and solutions for problems.

Phillips has served as commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation since January 2015.

Learn more about the CRPD.

Mountain Iron-Buhl School Forest increases access through new pedestrian bridges

Mountain Iron-Buhl School Forest Pedestrian Bridge

Two new pedestrian bridges are being added to the trails within the Mountain Iron-Buhl (MIB) School Forest. One bridge is completed; the other will be constructed this summer. Students in the district utilize the forest as an outdoor classroom and for school sports and physical education activities including cross country running, skiing and walking.

The new bridges will allow students, staff and community members to travel throughout the forest in areas that might not otherwise be accessible.

Students at Mountain Iron-Buhl School Forest

MIB’s 36-acre school-owned forest originated in the 1980’s through a land trade with the city of Mountain Iron. In 2013 it was officially recognized under the Minnesota School Forest Program which is a partnership between the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and schools. The program was passed into law in 1949 and authorizes schools to establish and maintain school forests. The concept was introduced by Dr. C.V. Hobson, a former Bemidji State University geography professor and state legislator. The first School Forest was designated in 1950 in Blackduck, 24 miles northeast of Bemidji.

Many of the schools in the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation service area own school forests. The districts’ teachers extend their classrooms into the forests and teach students outdoors. Students have the opportunity to increase their knowledge through academic standards in sciences, natural resources and environmental stewardship.

“Several organizations and individuals have worked throughout the years to continually improve the School Forest for our students,” said Louis Parenteau, School Forest manager and MIB faculty member and coach. “Our school is very proud of this wonderful academic, athletic and community asset.”

Students in Mountain-Iron Buhl School Forest

There are more than 135 School Forests in the state ranging in size from less than one to 300 acres for a combined total of 8,000 acres. The School Forests encompass rural and urban sites, public and private schools, and reach preschool through university students. Other states have similar programs including Wisconsin and Michigan.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation provided a Regional Trails grant to the city of Mountain Iron to help pay for bridge construction. Other project partners included the MIB school district, city of Mountain Iron and St. Louis County. For Regional Trails grant information email Jim Plummer or call him at 218-274-7006.

Culture & Tourism grants awarded

Ely's Historic State Theatre

Strong arts, culture, heritage and recreational activities are essential to the quality of life and economy of our region. Eleven projects were recently awarded Culture & Tourism grants.

  • Babbitt Lions Club, Babbitt: $6,692 to construct a city entrance and welcome sign.
  • Bigfork Valley Community Foundation, Bigfork: $5,544 to develop video mapping of sites and attractions along the Edge of the Wilderness National Scenic Byway.
  • Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust, Ely: $20,000 to purchase a sound board, theatrical lighting and wireless microphones for the historic and newly restored Ely State Theater.
  • Hoyt Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Hoyt Lakes: $20,000 to purchase an electronic sign to promote community events.
  • Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists, Chisholm: $3,252 to purchase trail maintenance equipment for upkeep of the Redhead Mountain bike trails.
  • Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability, Region-wide: $2,500 to place billboards that promote eight local farmer’s markets.
  • MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids: $8,000 to renovate the flooring, lighting and fixtures in the center which provides art classes for the public and exhibit space for local artists.
  • Orr Recreation & Resources Center, Orr: $20,000 to replace the roof shingles on the Orr Tourist Information & Welcome Center.
  • Ranger Snowmobile & ATV Club, Hoyt Lakes: $10,000 to replace a bridge over the snowmobile and ATV trail that crosses the St. Louis River at Seven Beaver Lake.
  • Two Harbors Curling Club, Two Harbors: $5,000 to purchase an automated ice scraper.
  • Visit Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids: $5,000 to develop video mapping of the city’s public art and historical locations.

Does your community have a project that improves the region’s arts, culture or recreation? New applications will be accepted in March 2020.

Learn more about the grant guidelines and application process.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation funds the Culture & Tourism grant program through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. Email Danae Beaudette for details or call her at 218-735-3022.

Photo: Ely’s Historic State Theatre, renovation completed and opening January 2020.

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.