IRRR Board approves $31.2 million budget

June 14, 2012


EVELETH, Minn.—Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich today announced that the IRRR Board approved a $31.2 million Fiscal Year 2013 budget at its meeting in Eveleth. The budget includes a $1 million increase to the development projects budget. In addition, funding for two new pilot projects, the Iron Range Neighborhood Revitalization project and the Business Energy Retrofitting program, also was approved. These projects will be administered by the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA).

The board also approved a resolution in support of an application to the Minnesota Business Development Capital Projects Grant Program for a $4.9 million grant for a new Giants Ridge Event Center. The proposed event center will replace aging infrastructure and advance regional growth by creating a destination event center and resort attraction. Total project cost is estimated at $9.9 million. The new event center is estimated to employ 93 people. 

“Our current facility at Giants Ridge has served us well for decades, but we now have issues that have been patched for years and high losses of energy that make a replacement necessary to compete with like facilities around the country. In looking at the costs of further patches versus a modern building, the smart investment is in a new event center,” Sertich said. 

At the meeting, Sertich announced that IRRRB is joining forces with the Blandin Foundation on a $100,000 education partnership that involves engaging local education stakeholders to better integrate educational programs and offerings in our regional school districts. He said, “Because a strong education system plays a critical role in economic development, this partnership was an important and natural fit.” 

The partnership also is timely, with Sertich citing a Georgetown University study that found that 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require education beyond high school by the year 2018. He said, “Our local schools do a great job with limited resources, but we want every student—no matter where they live—to have access to the best tools to ensure their future success.” 

This $100,000 project will be kicked off in late summer or early fall with meetings involving a cross section of education stakeholders including educators, students, school administrators, parents, and other community leaders. 

In other business, the board approved a $500,000 bank participation loan to Conveyor Belt Service, Inc. for renovation and expansion of its Virginia, Minn. Facility. The total project cost is $1,556,000. This expansion is expected to create up to eight additional full¬time jobs at average wages of $57,000 per year plus benefits. In relation to this expansion project, a $125,000 public works grant was approved to the City of Virginia for water, sewer, roads, soil correction and site work.

The IRRR Board also approved funding for several public works projects made available from House File 3149, which was state legislation passed in 2008. The law proposed that ten cents of the production tax be used as a grant or loan incentive for a value-added wood product facility in the IRRRB service area. The legislation stipulates that if a grant or loan is not made by July 1, 2012, the funds sunset and must be transferred to the Taconite Area Environmental Protection Fund (TEPF) to be allocated for public works projects in house legislative districts in the same proportion as taxable tonnage of 2007 production in each house legislative district. This funding is separate from the agency’s yearly public works grant process and cycle. Below is a list of projects that legislative board members supplied for the expenditure of funds as prescribed by the legislation:








Develop extension of Main Street & utility replacement to create safer environment for students.



Interior library painting, city hall roof repair, recreation equipment & emergency mechanical backup system.


Embarrass Township

Embarrass Timber Hall exterior improvements.



Roadway, campsite upgrades, water & power service at Veteran's Park. Construct storage/skating building, water, sewer and dasher board system at Northside Park.



Electrical, insulation and restrooms improvements at the nursing home.



VSP Renewable systems solar energy equipment purchase.


Hoyt Lakes

Replace roof on arena/community center.


Iron Range Engineering

Participation in cost of new equipment in power, electronics, modeling & manufacturing labs.


Mountain Iron

Solar panels for city hall/community center.


Mountain Iron- Buhl School

Install solar panels, audio equipment upgrade, computer lab improvements.


Laurentian Snowmobile Club

Participation in the purchase of a 2012 snow groomer.



Infrastructure and site work for Tri-Tec manufacturing. Proposed 9 jobs.



Site improvements to children’s memorial park.



Infrastructure and site work for Northern Heights business park.









Memorial Building - replace refrigerated floor system, new ventilation system, remove/construct new concrete steel structure - roof and columns.









Infrastructure and site work for Broking Transport expansion. Proposed 6-8 jobs.






In addition, the board approved $1,890,000 in funding for Iron Range Higher Education programs.

IRRRB is a state economic development agency headquartered in northeastern Minnesota whose mission is to invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota.