IRRRB approves several economic development projects
April 12, 2012
The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board gave the green light to four economic development projects at its Thursday, April 12 meeting. The projects collectively will add 17 new jobs to the region's economy.
Perhaps most significantly, the board approved a $100,000 direct loan to Aitkin-based American Peat Technology, to further develop a product that could have significant impact to the region's nonferrous mining future.
APT has been working with the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources and Research Institute to develop a product, APTsorb, which the company hopes to modify to be effective in removing specific pollutants, such as mercury and sulfates. The product has so far proved effective in treating stormwater, mine dewatering and process water.
The loan, part of a total $201,273 project costs will help fund further research on the product.
While some members of the board expressed concern that the five new jobs created by the loan would be located at NRRI in Duluth and outside the taconite tax relief area, others argued that the long-term benefits of the project, which could potentially alleviate environmental concerns associated with the sulfate pollutants released in nonferrous mining, were of great long-term benefit to the TTRA.
"Given all the hours that have been spent admiring the problem. It would be foolish to not fund this project that appears to be on the cusp" of treating sulfates, said Rep. Tom Anzelc - DFL, Balsam.
The board approved the direct loan allocation from the Douglas Johnson Economic Protection Trust Fund. The loan would be repaid through royalties over a 10-year period. The loan is unsecured, however, APT received a $100,000 bank participation loan to the company for equipment in 2006, which has been repaid in full.
The board also approved:
• A $170,000 bank participation loan to Furin & Shea Welding & Fabricating, Inc. of Hibbing, a steel fabrication company, to purchase additional manufacturing equipment. The total project cost is $340,000. Two full-time jobs are anticipated.
* A $176,578 bank participation loan to R.C. Fabricators, Inc. of Hibbing for the addition of a machining center and sandblasting unit with related equipment and the construction of a facility to house the sandblasting unit. Total project cost is $353,156. The expansion project is expected to create five full-time positions.
* A $390,000 bank participation loan to Cast Corporation of Hibbing, which produces tooling, castings and production machining for the automotive, recreational, heavy equipment, and electrical utility industries. The company recently added truncated domes to its product line. The funding will allow expansion to include an 8,200 square foot addition to meet increasing sales volume. Total project cost is $930,000. Thirteen full-time equivalent jobs will be retained and five new full-time equivalent jobs will be created, according to the company.
# # #
© 2012 BusinessNorth - Access more business news from BusinessNorth.