IRRR Board Meeting Recap - Oct. 17

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

Oct. 17, 2023


Sheryl Kochevar, Communications Director


Businesses, communities and outdoor recreation in northeastern Minnesota receive over $11.5 million in economic development funding

At today's Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board meeting, over $10 million in loans, $450,000 in infrastructure grants and $1 million in trails grants were reviewed to advance projects in northeastern Minnesota. Agency investment for all projects combined is over $11.5 million. Total project investment is approximately $74.5 million. The projects are expected to increase the regional tax base, retain and create new jobs, provide essential services, increase the housing inventory and expand outdoor recreation. The loans are anticipated to create about 400 jobs. The infrastructure projects are projected to impact seven jobs and create 17 construction jobs. 

Direct Loan: $10,000,000

Agency Investment $10,000,000 | Total Investment $67,759,840

HWY35, LLC, Grand Rapids: $10,000,000 to establish a state-of-the-art cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility. The indoor cultivation center will be equipped with LED grow lights, HVAC systems and automated nutrient delivery systems. The manufacturing center will have stringent quality control procedures, and labeling will be implemented to meet regulatory standards and deliver exceptional products to the market. With recent legalization of cannabis for adult use in the state of Minnesota, the project aims to capitalize on the burgeoning market by acquiring the necessary equipment and infrastructure to cultivate premium cannabis strains, extract oils and manufacture a diverse range of high-quality cannabis products.

“While launching the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis products as a new industry in the state of Minnesota is exciting, the opportunity to create positive economic impacts in northeastern Minnesota and, in particular the Grand Rapids and greater Iron Range communities, for generations to come is both thrilling and rewarding. We will revitalize the 138-acre former Ainsworth site into a high-tech, state-of-the-art, cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility that our communities will be proud of and that will serve as an industry leader for the state of Minnesota.” – John Hyduke, HWY 35 Lead Minnesota Investment Partner.

“On behalf of the city and the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority, I’d like to thank Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation for their diligent work and support of this promising new industry. We’ve witnessed firsthand how the partners at HWY35 have developed and operated similar facilities in other states, and their proposed investment in the former Ainsworth site, which has been dormant since 2008, will further diversify our manufacturing base, fully utilize the public’s past and present investments in infrastructure, and substantially contribute to the growth of our regional economy.” – Rob Mattei, City of Grand Rapids Director of Community Development. 

“The HWY35 project is expected to benefit northeastern Minnesota through the creation of 400 jobs and increased tax revenues that can be reinvested back into the region. Because the project is based in both manufacturing and agriculture, it has the potential to significantly diversify the local economy, which is one of our agency's primary goals.” – Commissioner Ida Rukavina, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.

Participation Loan: $95,000

Agency Investment $95,000 | Total Investment $210,000

Northern Expanding Industrial dba AREMCO, Grand Rapids: $95,000 to purchase a large computer numerical control (CNC) mill to meet growing demand and expand production of customer-requested products. AREMCO produces gears and related components, instrumentation, missile guidance and general machining for the aerospace industry, which includes military, commercial and private aircrafts. The new equipment will enable AREMCO to expand its presence in the mining, pipeline machining and manufacturing of automation components industries.

“With the help of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation we are able to achieve our commitment to expanding the machining services we offer to our much-valued customers and needs they have.” – Dave Henriksen, AREMCO President.

“Loans for modern equipment are one way the agency supports the strong manufacturing industry in northeastern Minnesota. AREMCO manufactures parts in Grand Rapids that become part of aircrafts transporting people and goods across the nation. The agency was pleased to assist them with an equipment purchase that will help expand their production capability.” – Commissioner Ida Rukavina, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation.

Development Infrastructure Grants: $308,000

Agency Investment $308,000 | Total Investment $2,043,837

  • City of Gilbert: $200,000 to construct infrastructure, site work and roadways for a new 3,600-square-foot plumbing and heating service center. By extending sewer and water utilities and constructing a highway access point, the city has the potential for additional commercial development on 30 acres of city owned land.
  • City of Ely: $108,000 to construct infrastructure and site work for housing construction which includes five cabins and three fully electric RV sites. The rental cabins can serve as workforce, tourism or student housing. 

Community Infrastructure Grants: $149,000

Agency Investment $149,000 | Total Investment $724,417

  • City of Hibbing: $149,000 to install new lining in residential sewer lines between Highway 169 and 37th Street which will extend the life of the infrastructure that is currently failing. The sewer lines were constructed between 1948 and 1953 using clay tile pipe which has become very brittle over time. 

Regional Trails Grants: $1,019,650

Agency Investment $1,019,650 | Total Investment $3,822,649

  • City of Biwabik: $28,500 to construct a paved trail connecting a park pavilion to a gazebo located within the Biwabik Park in the center of town.
  • City of Chisholm: $500,000 to create a master plan for the future expansion of Redhead Mountain Bike (MTB) Park and establish Chisholm connectivity; build out and construct Chisholm bike lanes and other in-town amenities such as a pump track and bike racks; upgrade Redhead MTB Park; and, establish Chisholm as a destination “biketown.”
  • Crow Wing County: $110,000 to expand recreational opportunities at the Milford Mine Memorial Park with an additional 1.25 miles of walking trials, including 1,200+ feet of boardwalk, a pier, two picnic pavilions and numerous benches and tables.
  • Iron Range Tourism Bureau (IRTB): $100,000 to fund the Northern St. Louis County Trails Task Force Small Trail Projects grant program. The program is administered by IRTB and provides grants to cover costs related to trails and trail facility/amenity projects in the region.
  • Northern Lights Nordic Ski Club: $31,150 to purchase two snowmobiles, one ATV and a trailer to help groom and maintain various ski trails in Itasca County.
  • City of Virginia: $250,000 to re-route a floating trail on the southeast side of Silver Lake and near the Public Utilities Building. The project is the final piece to complete Silver Lake Trail as a contiguous trail around the lake.

Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation is funded through taxes paid by Minnesota’s mining industry. The projects reviewed at today’s board meeting support the agency’s fiscal year 2024 spending plan which helps to fund 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.