IRRRB approves $3.65 million in education and job investments

Total public/private investment of $11.2 million, creating 42 new jobs

August 08, 2013


EVELETH, Minn.—Education and job investments of more than $3.65 million were approved at today’s Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) meeting in Eveleth. According to IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich, the funding will support projects with a total public/private investment of $11.2 million and that are projected to create 42 new jobs and 26 construction jobs. 

The IRRR Board approved investing $1.85 million from the Iron Range Higher Education Account as follows: 

• $1,000,000 to the Northeast Higher Education District (NHED) for the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) program for the continued development of a higher education program that, in collaboration with private industry, will allow students to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in engineering from Minnesota State University Mankato. 

• $500,000 to local colleges for the completion of phase II implementation of telepresence technology classrooms.

• $350,000 to local colleges for the development and implementation of a professional level Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP) program on the Iron Range. 

Cast Corporation of Hibbing received a $945,000 loan to construct a 20,000 square foot building and purchase production equipment to accommodate entry into the foundry business. The total project investment is $3.5 million. It is projected to create 15 to 16 jobs initially with plans to reach 25 to 30. Seventeen jobs will be retained. 

The city of Cohasset received a $12,500 public works grant for new water and sewer line connections to service a new retail development project and an existing business. This project will provide leverage for a new 8,500 square foot retail development. The total project investment is $1.02 million. It is projected to create 6.5 construction jobs and a number of permanent jobs.

The city of Virginia received a $350,000 public works grant for water, sewer, utility extension and site work for a new surgery center on Bailey’s Lake was approved. This $3.35 million project, which is an expansion of the Sundell Eye Associates Clinic, is projected to create 12 new jobs and 19.5 construction jobs. 

The IRRR Board also approved $500,000 in funding for the Business Energy Retrofit Program (BER). Based on the success of a $250,000 pilot program held in Hibbing last year, the program will be expanded to the entire IRRRB service area, providing grants to eligible business owners to make cost effective energy improvements on buildings they own. These grants will cover one third of the investment with the other two thirds coming from utility rebates, owner match, other energy funds or low interest loans. The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency will administer the BER program. 

At the meeting, Sertich also shared new Fiscal Year 2013 Grant Program Reports that contain detailed results for the following grant programs: Commercial Redevelopment, Culture and Tourism, LVP Innovation, Public Works and Residential Redevelopment. The reports provide a snapshot of how these grant programs performed over the past fiscal year, as well as recommendations for future improvement. 

Sertich said, “By delivering results and providing this new format for reporting on our programs, we are taking another step forward in making the agency even more transparent.” 

The reports can be viewed online at

The IRRR Board also reviewed and approved the agency’s new Grant Program Guidelines for Fiscal Year 2014.   

To view the IRRR Board meeting, visit

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