IRRR Board Meeting Recap - Aug. 9

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

Aug. 9, 2023


Sheryl Kochevar, Communications Director


Businesses, communities, outdoor recreation and education in northeastern Minnesota receive over $7.4 million in economic development funding

At today's Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board meeting, approximately $3.1 million in loans, $3 million in infrastructure grants, $700,000 in trails grants and $630,000 in higher education grants were approved to advance projects in northeastern Minnesota. Agency total investment for all projects combined is approximately $7.4 million. Total project investment is approximately $87 million. The projects are expected to increase the regional tax base, retain and create new jobs, provide essential services, increase the housing inventory, expand outdoor recreation and enhance higher education. The loans are anticipated to impact 178 jobs. The infrastructure projects are projected to impact 22 jobs and create 169 construction jobs.  

Direct Loan: $2,500,000

Agency Investment $2,500,000 | Total Investment $55,427,035

L&M Supply, Inc., Grand Rapids: $2,500,000 to construct a 200,000-square-foot greenfield, state-of-the-art distribution center. The new distribution center will replace one that is operating in nearby LaPrairie but is not large enough to accommodate the company’s current operations and anticipated future growth. The project involves the addition of advanced computer-aided forklifts, conveyor systems for moving product within the distribution center, a sortation system to increase efficiency and a new warehouse management system to increase accuracy, visibility and systematic knowledge of inventory at all states of processing. Thirty-five to 50 new jobs are projected, and 83 jobs will be retained.

The first L&M Supply store opened in Grand Rapids in 1959. It was a 30’ x 60’ wooden building. Today, L&M has one corporate office/distribution center and 12 retail store locations in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. It is led by the third generation of family owners who reside in the Grand Rapids area. L&M stores offer outdoor power equipment sales and service, and products related to fishing, marine, hunting, firearms, workwear, fashion clothing, footwear, automotive, farm, pet and home improvement.

“The Grand Rapids area has been the home base for L&M for the past 64 years and we are proud to continue our company growth in our hometown. Our mission has always been to serve our customers’ needs, and this new distribution center will ensure that we can fulfill that mission for years to come.” – Shawn Matteson, L&M Fleet Supply Co-Owner.

“The Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority and the city of Grand Rapids appreciate Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation’s support of this hugely significant project for our area. We are proud of the hometown success story that L&M Supply is, and we are honored to be a part of this collaborative effort to help secure their growth, investment and employment in Grand Rapids.” – Rob Mattei, City of Grand Rapids Director of Community Development.

“L&M Supply stores have been a retail tradition in northeastern Minnesota dating back to the 1960s. Our agency is extremely pleased that a dynamic company like L&M is making such a substantial economic investment in the region. The project will create jobs for the construction trades as the distribution center is built out over the next year and jobs for local residents when it is up and operating.” – Ida Rukavina, Commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.

Participation Loan: $600,000

Agency Investment $600,000 | Total Investment $1,200,000

Cast Corporation, Hibbing: $600,000 to make facility improvements related to a 5,4000-square-foot foundry expansion that includes a loading dock, remodel of an existing 3,050-square-foot heated storage building and addition of a new 3,200-square-foot cold storage building.

“Our agency has enjoyed a long relationship with Cast Corporation. We congratulate the company, its employees and owners on their exciting new expansion. Cast is an excellent example of how the region’s economic landscape has strengthened and diversified through manufacturing.” – Ida Rukavina, Commissioner of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.

Development Infrastructure Grants: $1,151,362

Agency Investment $1,151,362 | Total Investment $7,061,845

  • City of Buhl: $151,362 to construct infrastructure, site work and roadways for a new housing development. The Damian II Addition will provide 10 single-family home lots. The city recently sold the last available lot in the Stubler Addition creating a need for the development of new residential lots.
  • City of Chisholm: $500,000 to construct infrastructure, site work and roadways for a new 11,000-square-foot building that will house a new child care facility, clinic and county services. The child care center will be licensed for 90 full-time children ages six weeks to 12 years.
  • City of Silver Bay: $500,000 to excavate and construct infrastructure and site work for a new housing development near Bayview Park. The Boathouse Bay project includes 53 housing units and a resort to be built out over the next five years. 

Community Infrastructure Grants: $1,865,364

Agency Investment $1,865,364 | Total Investment $19,344,892

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa: $386,500 to construct infrastructure and site work for a new 13,800-square-foot public works facility. The Vermilion Public Works Facility will provide space for equipment and vehicles used in the public works and housing departments. There will be office space, a conference room and a food shelf area that provides services to band members residing in Vermilion and to surrounding communities.
  • City of Grand Marais: $250,000 to construct infrastructure and new road surfaces for Fifth Avenue West, a major connector between Highway 61 and the Gunflint Trail. The avenue serves public service centers related to health care, water, fire suppression, recycling and the court system. Residential housing and private businesses are also served by the avenue.
  • City of Hibbing: $500,000 to construct infrastructure related to 1.6 miles of water main, add a water valve and replace a hydrant. The new water main will replace antiquated and malfunctioning cast iron pipes which were installed from 1923 to 1925. The project will provide Hibbing Public Utilities the opportunity to replace 33 lead service lines.
  • City of Keewatin: $350,578 to improve the O'Brien Reservoir recreation area with demolition of an existing dilapidated restroom facility, construction of a 24' x 30' four-stall handicap accessible restroom facility, septic system installation and parking lot improvements. The project will also replace the curbs, sidewalks and overhead street lights on North First Street.
  • City of Orr: $243,411 to replace Orr Regional Airport’s outdated fueling system. The existing fueling system and supporting software does not meet current standards and will soon be obsolete. The airport has seven hangars with a waiting list. It is utilized by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a base for fire suppression and wildlife surveillance.
  • City of Virginia: $134,875 to upgrade the elevator and men’s handicap accessible restroom at Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency’s (AEOA) headquarters in Virginia. AEOA provides essential services in several area counties related to energy assistance, seniors, nutrition, early childhood and adult education, homelessness, housing, weatherization, employment and training, food access, transportation, youth services and business assistance. 

Regional Trails Grants: $700,000

Agency Investment $700,000 | Total Investment $3,982,430

  • Itasca Driftskippers Snowmobile Club: $50,000 to purchase a new 2023 Piston Bully snowmobile trail groomer that will improve uptime, reduce maintenance costs, improve safety and improve trail conditions in the Grand Rapids area.
  • Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club: $100,000 to replace a highly used snowmobile trail bridge that was destroyed in a flood during the spring of 2022. The bridge crosses the Poplar River and is on the Lutsen Access Trail, which provides access from remote area trails to downtown Lutsen where riders can access food, fuel, emergency services and lodging. The trail and bridge are also used by bikers and hikers.
  • North Superior Ski and Run Club (NSSRC): $50,000 to purchase a new snow cat groomer to groom the Pincushion Nordic ski trails in Grand Marais for classic and skate techniques.
  • St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority: $500,000 to complete construction of a five-mile gap segment of Mesabi Trail from McKinley to Biwabik, connecting the Virginia area to the Giants Ridge and Embarrass area. A portion of the new segment includes a floating trail over the wetland.

Iron Range Higher Education Account: $630,000

Agency Investment $630,000

  • Minnesota North College: $400,000 to support the Iron Range Engineering BELL program which collaborates with private industry and allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Minnesota State University Mankato. Since 2009, the program has graduated 290 students and has received worldwide recognition for its innovative engineering education approach.
  • Minnesota North College: $230,000: to support the operations of the five foundations that serve the college’s students and campuses of Hibbing, Itasca, Mesabi Range, Rainy River and Vermilion. The grant will help purchase donor and scholarship management software, staff professional development.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation is funded through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. The projects approved at today’s board meeting support the agency’s FY24 spending plan which helps the agency funds projects in business, community and workforce development that retain and create jobs, address customer priorities, leverage investment and improve the quality of life for all residents.