Here are some recent community success stories in northeastern Minnesota...
Life Link III, a leader in air medical transportation, has landed at a busy home at the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing, Minn. The company operates five helicopter bases in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The Hibbing base opened in November of 2008. Life Link III provides round-the-clock helicopter and airplane ambulance service for patients in Minnesota and throughout the United States.
Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) provided $400,000 in grants to the Chisholm/Hibbing Airport Authority for the remodeling and restoration of its 12,000 square foot hangar building and road access/apron in order to accommodate the company. The hangar was the original airline terminal building built in 1940 as a Work Projects Administration project. The construction portion of the project totaled $1.2 million. In addition, Life Link III invested $2 million for equipment in the facility.
A medical helicopter is housed in the rehabilitated hangar at the airport, along with onsite medical crews and pilots 24 hours a day. The expansion created 50 construction jobs and 10 new permanent jobs.
The Victus Farm greenhouse project in the Eco-Industrial Park in Silver Bay, Minn. is progressing. IRRRB supported the project through $300,000 in grants to the City of Silver Bay. The $1.2 million dollar building is 8,600 square feet and will house an integrated fish, algal and plant production system. This is the first facility in the country to incorporate all three systems. The system will use waste products from the fish as a natural nutrient source for the plants and algae. The plants and algae will remove nutrients and replenish the oxygen before the water is returned to the fish. Algae will also be used as feed for the fish and the production of biofuels.
Victus Farm will process and distribute locally grown produce and fish year-round for local consumption by citizens, schools, restaurants and other sources. Biodiesel generated from algae will be used by local industries and provide another renewable energy source for not only the greenhouse but the entire park.
The University of Minnesota Duluth's (UMD) Center for Sustainable Community Development (CSCD) will operate the facility and coordinate a research and educational program. UMD's Environment and Sustainability Program, Department of Civil Engineering and the University of Minnesota's - College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences will also contribute to the project. The City of Silver Bay is partnering with the CSCD on the project. UMD's CSCD will use the facility for research, education and 'Proof of concept' activities. Local high schools are also expected to use the facility for educational purposes. It is envisioned that the building eventually will be used as an educational, research and tourist facility.