EVELETH — Listen carefully and you will soon hear the sounds of construction on the Iron Range while $17 million worth of infrastructure improvements are made in communities across the region.
The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board Ok’d $2,376,892 in financing for 13 projects at its Friday meeting. The agency money will help leverage about another $15 million for a total of $17.million of public works.
The money comes from the IRRRB Community Infrastructure Grant Program.
The board also approved loans for two Hibbing manufacturing companies that will stimulate business growth, adding an estimated total 10 new jobs to the economy.
The public works projects range from street and utility repairs and additions in several cities to an airport project to a new fire hall.
- Chisholm gets $190,000 for a street and utilities replacement project. Project cost: $1.095 million. Construction jobs: Five.
- The Chisholm-Hibbing Airport will get a new parking lot, more LED lighting and security upgrades with the help of a $154,680 grant. Total project cost: $1,370,602. Construction jobs: Nine.
- Crosby receives a $120,000 grant for a sewer relocation to help with a multi-use underpass tunnel for a safe route across Highway 6 for snowmobilers, bikers and walkers. Total cost: $1.732 million. Construction jobs: 10.
- The Greenway Joint Recreation Association is updating its athletic complex. Total project cost: $94,825. One construction job expected.
- Ironton receives a $62,000 grant for water system improvements. Total project: $340,000. Jobs: Two.
- Kelsey Township will soon have a new fire hall with the aid of a $175,000 grant. In the funding request, officials said: “The current fire hall is more a detriment to safety and service than an asset. Built in 1962, the building is dilapidated, blighted and falling down.” The Kelsey Township Fire Department also serves several surrounding communities. Total cost: $378,521. Jobs: Three.
- Babbitt’s Phase II campground project receives a jump-start from a $250,000 IRRRB grant. Expanding the existing Birch Lake recreation Area adds a new 22-acre campground with 49 campsites. City utilities will be extended to the campground and existing facilities. Commercial and housing opportunities will also be created. Project cost: $1,403,616. Construction jobs: 10.
- Cook receives $350,000 to help with a new water main loop project. The upgrade will support a new business development along with existing businesses. It will advance the redevelopment of Zup’s Food Market, which was destroyed by fire on Nov. 12. The agency also provided another $350,000 for site work. Project cost: $5,562,300. Construction jobs: 36.
- A $120,000 grant will extend fiber optics in Ely. Project cost: $240,000. Jobs: Two.
- A sewer and water project in Grand Rapids receives a $57,800 agency grant. Project cost: $1.53 million. It paves the way for a new facility to merge two private health club facilities. Jobs: Six permanent, five construction.
- A $350,000 grant will enable a road reconstruction project of Mountain Iron Drive. Total cost: $765,000.
- Silver Bay’s campground development project along the shore of Lake Superior receives a $250,000 grant for building construction. Total project: $765,625. Jobs: Five.
Hibbing Fabricators Inc., with a significant presence in the aerospace and medical industries, will use a $115,000 IRRRB loan for equipment purchases.
The new equipment will help the company prepare finished products.
The equipment will be financed by the agency loan and a matching private $115,000 loan from Security State Bank.
Two new jobs paying $21,000 to $42,000 plus benefits will be created.
Cast Corporation is a manufacturing and sales company involved in tooling and castings. The company provides pattern and mold manufacturing services and sells to a variety of mining, industrial, recreation and automotive industries.
An IRRRB $305,000 loan will allow new equipment purchases. It will create eight new jobs, paying up to $33,280 a year, plus benefits.
Business North Contributor Bill Hanna, who has been a writer and editor in the newspaper business for more than 40 years, was a reporter and executive editor at the Mesabi Daily News on the Iron Range from 1985 to 2016. He has won more than 50 state and national awards. He currently writes Sunday columns for the MDN Op/Ed section.