EVELETH, Minn.—Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) Commissioner Tony Sertich announced today that the IRRR Board will consider funding for a $31.2 million Fiscal Year 2013 budget at its board meeting on Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 10 a.m. at IRRRB headquarters south of Eveleth.
According to Sertich, the proposed budget is similar to last year’s budget both in size and priorities. He said, “We continue to prioritize our assistance to businesses, communities, and workforce along with our natural competitive advantages to make sure we can attract growth opportunities in a hyper-competitive global economy.”
One major priority funding area is the development projects budget, which is increased by $1 million over last year’s budget.
Also included in the proposed budget are two new initiatives that will be administered by the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA).
A $500,000 Iron Range Neighborhood Revitalization project is a pilot partnership that can be used for rehabilitation of homes and rental properties whose owner’s incomes are over the guidelines for current programs. Eligible cities include all those within the IRRRB service area. Revitalization includes work that promotesenergy conservation and efficiency improvements such as window and door replacement, new furnaces, water heaters, wall and ceiling insulation, roofing, siding, solar, wind, and geothermal energy. This program will provide benefits to not only homeowners and communities, but also to trades people who will gain employment.
A $250,000 Business Energy Retrofitting pilot program in partnership with municipal and state energy conservation programs provides IRRRB funding assistance for energy conservation, efficiency and installation of renewable energy systems. The pilot program is located in Hibbing, and contingent on its performance, can be expanded to serve other IRRRB service area communities. IRRRB grants defray one-third of the cost of an individual businesses’ investment. Remaining funds would come from an owner match or a private, low interest loan. The program is aimed at helping existing businesses save money on energy expenses. This program will again help with employment in the trades for those who will do the retrofit work.
In other business, a $500,000 bank participation loan to Conveyor Belt Service, Inc. for renovation and expansion of its Virginia, Minn. facility will be considered. The total cost of the project is $1,556,000. This expansion is expected to create up to eight additional fulltime jobs at average wages of $57,000 per year plus benefits.The IRRR Board also will review funding for several public works projects and proposed 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.