IRRRB loan program, financial assistance approved to grow jobs in northeastern Minnesota

April 15, 2011

EVELETH, Minnesota – Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Commissioner Tony Sertich announced today IRRR Board approval of a new local business loan program and agency financial assistance that will lead to the creation of new jobs in northeastern Minnesota. 

A $1 million IRRRB Local Business Loan Guaranty program provides an IRRRB-backed financial guarantee to local banks that make loans to existing businesses within the agency’s service area. Approximately 13 businesses are expected to utilize the program. The program provides an IRRRB loan guaranty of up to $75,000 to banks which provide loans to qualifying businesses. 

“The IRRRB is implementing this program to help our local businesses gain access to capital, which will create healthier businesses that can expand and create new jobs within our region,” said Sertich. “We have been asking businesses how we can best help and numerous businesses identified this type of a program as one of their most critical needs. The IRRRB will continue to utilize innovative programs such as this to support our local businesses, which are so important to our economy and communities.” 

The IRRR Board, meeting at IRRRB headquarters in Eveleth, also approved a $4 million loan to PolyMet Mining, Inc. The loan will assist PolyMet with a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service. PolyMet, which has acquired tracts of lands near Biwabik and McFarland Lake in Cook County, plans to exchange those tracts for lands at the site of its proposed NorthMet non-ferrous mining project near Hoyt Lakes. The PolyMet project will create 360 permanent jobs, 1.25 million man hours of construction work, more than 500 spin-off jobs, and generate an annual economic impact of $242 million in St. Louis County. 

Four community development projects, at the Range Regional Airport, City of Hibbing, City of Tower, and City of Gilbert, were approved by the board. 

Those projects are: 

• A $100,000 grant to the Chisholm-Hibbing Airport Authority will be utilized toward a $3.1 million rehabilitation of basic and advanced life support medical flight transport facilities at the Range Regional Airport. One or two medical helicopters and a jet will be housed in a rehabilitated hangar at the airport. Seven full-time construction jobs and 10 new permanent jobs will be created. 

• A $99,200 grant to the City of Hibbing to assist with a $242,385 storm sewer infrastructure repair project. The project is designed to address longstanding storm water problems near the intersection of Highways 169 and 73, affecting the Minnesota Workforce Center and several businesses housed in the same building. 

• An amendment to a $120,000 IRRRB grant made in 2010 to the City of Tower, allowing the city to replace a minimum of $250,0000 of St. Louis County matching monies for Phase I of its East Two Rivers Harbor Development project with $400,000 in matching Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development funding. Phase I is estimated at $5.7 million, including a new Highway 169 bridge and rerouting of Highway 135. An estimated $40 million in private investment is possible as a result of the project, including 90 units of housing, a refurbished riverfront park with performance pavilion, new trails, and 95,000 square-feet of commercial space. 

• An amendment to an $80,000 IRRRB grant made in 2009 to the City of Gilbert for a Lake Ore-Be-Gone mine pit wall stability analysis, allowing the city to utilize the remaining $54,132 to repair and modify the Sherwood Forest Campground’s boat access and swimming area. 

Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) is a state of Minnesota economic development agency headquartered in Northeastern Minnesota whose vision is to promote and invest in business, community and workforce development for the betterment of the region.