IRRR Board Meeting Recap - March 26

department of iron range resources and rehabilitation

March 26, 2024


Jordan Metsa, Communications Director


Businesses, communities, broadband, housing and outdoor recreation in northeastern Minnesota receive over $9.5 million in economic development funding

At today's Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board meeting, an estimated $1.3 million in loans, $750,000 in site ready grants, $3.7 million in infrastructure grants, $157,000 in trails grants and $3.6 million in housing grants were reviewed to advance projects in northeastern Minnesota. Agency investment for all projects combined is over $9.5 million. Total project investment is estimated at $106.6 million. The projects are expected to increase the regional tax base, retain and create jobs, expand broadband, provide essential services, grow the housing inventory and expand outdoor recreation.

Business Development Site Ready Grants

Agency Investment: $750,000 | Total Project Investment: $820,000

  • Eveleth Jack Pine Industrial Park: $450,000 to conduct the site diligence for the development of an industrial park located along both sides of the Progress Parkway extension and directly south of the new Rock Ridge Laurentian Elementary School to Highway 37. The park will accommodate a variety of industrial uses including warehouse/general and distribution, manufacturing, flex/general purpose, service center and showroom.
  • City of Hibbing Industrial Site: $300,000 to conduct the final site development of a 9.13-acre industrial parcel on the north side of East 13th Street with close access to U.S. Highway 169. The project includes the schematic design of a 35,000-square-foot building located within the site that will accommodate the future growth plans of Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions.

Business Development Loans

Agency Investment: $1,346,500 | Total Project Investment: $3,156,750

  • Advanced Machine Guarding Solutions (AMGS): $437,500 to purchase a new automated powder coating system and robotic welding equipment that will provide significant automation, eliminate some repetitive tasks and increase output. AMGS designs and produces safety steel wire mesh guarding for the automation industry.
  • Ellefson Off Highway, Inc.: $209,000 to purchase a forklift that will allow for greater efficiency and increased production to remain competitive in the industry. Ellefson Off Highway deals in construction and mining application parts, components and full pieces of equipment including Caterpillar and Komatsu, which are sold to a worldwide customer base.
  • Hibbing Fabricators, Inc.: $425,000 to purchase an LVD Strippit and Punch LASER combination machine that eliminates downstream operations and improves part quality. Hibbing Fabricators manufactures precision sheet metal fabricated parts for various industries including healthcare, aerospace and electronics.
  • Pro Blast Technology, Inc.: $175,000 to perform necessary roof repairs of the production facility and to purchase a forklift. The building repairs will prolong the facility’s life, and the forklift is necessary to perform daily tasks of moving products in and out of the facility. Pro Blast Technology is an abrasive blasting and painting service. It houses the largest paint booth in northern Minnesota and provides services to residential, commercial and industrial customers, from restoration of used items to preparation and painting of new items.
  • Radotich, Inc.: $100,000 to purchase an all terrain crane that will reach new heights that are unattainable with their other lifts. The crane will expand job bidding capacity to be more competitive. Radotich is a construction company that specializes in the erection of structural steel buildings, mechanical contracting and mobile crane service. They provide turn key mechanical design and installation for projects ranging from schools, medical centers, office buildings, restaurants, churches, manufacturing plants and others.

Broadband Infrastructure Grant: $261,184

Agency Investment $261,184 | Total Project Investment $522,369

  • Bois Forte Band of Chippewa: $261,184 to construct a fiber-to-the-home buildout to bring high speed broadband to 442 homes in the Bois Forte Reservation. The project previously received a grant in 2019 and is nearing completion. Due to ledge rock encountered and higher material costs, the new grant amendment will support 50% of the increased construction costs.

Development Infrastructure Grants: $1,450,000

Agency Investment $1,450,000 | Total Project Investment $31,563,336

  • City of Hibbing: $250,000 to fund the city with a grant to be administered by the Hibbing Economic Development Authority (HEDA). HEDA will administer the grant funds through their revolving loan fund and provide loan funding as part of a hotel large-scale redevelopment project located in downtown.
  • City of Mountain Iron: $400,000 to construct new road and utility extensions and electric upgrades to serve new and existing business development located on Enterprise Drive and near Rock Ridge and Unity.
  • Cook County/Grand Marias Joint EDA: $400,000 to construct infrastructure and site work for the development of a 10,000-square-foot mixed-use commercial space in Grand Marais that will replace three businesses lost to a fire in 2020. The “Mayhew Commercial Project” will feature an event center, lodging units, a restaurant, retail spaces, lounge and rooftop open space.
  • Cook County/Grand Marias Joint EDA: $400,000 to construct infrastructure and site work for the development of a 9,300-square-foot mixed-use commercial space that will replace Papa Charlie’s restaurant and event venue at Lutsen Mountains which was lost to a fire last year. The new building will include a restaurant, event center, bar/lounge and four lodging units for resort guests.

Community Infrastructure Grants: $1,970,345

Agency Investment $1,970,345 | Total Project Investment $16,439,284

  • City of Aurora: $500,000 to construct the infrastructure and surface water treatment plant for phase II of the new East Range water system which will eventually serve the communities of Aurora, Town of White, Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes.
  • City of Chisholm: $1,000,000 to upgrade the Chet Tomassoni Arena and Curling Club, including the ice plant, refrigeration system, dehumidification system, ceiling and dasher boards.
  • Itasca County: $100,000 to construct a new dump station and well house for the Bass Lake Park and Campground that surrounds Bass, Sucker and Erskine lakes. The improvements will resolve the public health and safety concerns and keep the park open to campers.
  • City of Tower: $370,345 to support new water and sewer utilities, storm water, road reconstruction and airport technology upgrades to public locations and sites throughout the community including roadways, the historic Tower Depot and Train Museum campus, Lakeview Cemetery and Tower Municipal Airport.

Regional Trails Grants: $157,000

Agency Investment $157,000 | Total Project Investment $517,300

  • City of Mountain Iron: $82,000 to construct an outdoor learning classroom in a forested area at Mountain Iron-Buhl Public Schools that includes 2.5 miles of trails, a boardwalk, bridge, pavilion and interpretive signage. The outdoor area will be used to teach students and others about nature, conservation, science and the history and culture of the region.
  • Northeast Regional ATV Trail Joint Powers Board City of Hoyt Lakes: $25,000 to conduct master planning, route planning, environmental permitting, right-of-way acquisition and construction cost analysis for future construction to connect the city of Two Harbors to existing ATV and snowmobile trails.
  • PathBlazers Snowmobile Club: $50,000 to purchase a new snowmobile trail groomer that will be used to maintain and groom 68 miles of trails in the Hibbing, Chisholm and Side Lake areas.

Housing Grants

Agency Investment: $3,575,250 | Total Project Investment: $53,611,848

  • City of Bovey: $280,000 to construct infrastructure needed to repurpose the former Connor-Jasper Middle School into a new 20-unit market rate apartment building.
  • City of Chisholm: $500,000 to construct infrastructure for up to 25 lots for new single-family market rate housing. The development is part of Phase 1 Wenton Addition.
  • City of Ely: $850,000 to support the infrastructure and construction related to a new three-story, 37-unit market rate workforce apartment building.
  • City of Grand Rapids: $600,000 to construct a four-story, 132-unit market rate workforce apartment building.
  • Cook County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – Bjorkberg: $225,000 to construct infrastructure for a new housing development of 20 two-story workforce town homes in Grand Marais.
  • Cook County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – Temperance Trails: $100,000 to construct infrastructure for a new housing development of up to 22 homes in Tofte. Ten are proposed to be single family homes, and 12 will be side-by-side town homes.
  • Cook County Housing and Redevelopment Authority – The Heights: $630,000 to construct a new three-story, 36-unit workforce apartment building.
  • North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity: $130,000 to construct five new homes and rehabilitate one home. The new home locations include one in Hibbing, two in Buhl and two in Virginia. The rehabilitated home is located in Tower and will meet Habitat for Humanity’s energy-efficiency standards with updated plumbing, wiring and insulation.
  • Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency: $250,000 to pilot a tax forfeit housing rehabilitation program targeting five homes in Chisholm, Eveleth and Aurora. The program is a partnership to rehabilitate tax forfeit properties that may otherwise be slated for demolition.
  • Aurora Housing and Redevelopment Authority: $10,250 to support the Neighborhood Revitalization Program focused on home exterior improvements to 20 houses.

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.