Northland's NewsCenter)---A $1.9 million federal grant will help strengthen mining and steel businesses in the Northeastern Minnesota Mining Cluster. The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge Grants will help accomplish the mission of the Obama Administration and Governor Mark Dayton; to advance industry clusters, spur job creation and accelerate economic growth. "With our new non-ferrous mining projects and with our taconite expansion and traditional taconite mining, this is really good news, both the financial side but also the technical side and the support we will receive from Washington D.C.," Commissioner Tony Sertich of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board said. The grants are part of $37 million dollar initiative by the federal government to help advance high-growth industries across the nation. More than $990,000 dollars will help educate students and already existing employees in the Iron Range Engineering Program. "There will be an assessment that's going to be conducted by the Workforce Center as part of this grant, and that assessment will give us the opportunity to start students at exactly the right entry point for their careers in engineering," Sue Collins, President of the Northeaster Higher Education District said. The Natural Resources Research Institute in Duluth plans to continue to develop new products to assist with mineral recovery and research with the help of an $800,000 grant. "We will be extending our aggregate program which is basically taking waste rock from mining and using it for growing businesses that are associated with road construction," Michael Lalich, Director of NRRI said. At least thirteen new businesses will result and nearly 700 new jobs will be created through the grants. Mining is one-third of the gross product in northeastern Minnesota. Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch jwalch@northlandsnewscenter.com