IRRRB approves over $7-million in infrastructure improvement projects

By KBJR News 1

December 23, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM CDT

Eveleth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Iron Range will soon be seeing a boom in infrastructure projects and job opportunities, thanks to a multi-million dollar grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

On Friday the IRRRB approved more than $7-million in grants that will go toward community infrastructure projects in 2014.

"Getting our infrastructure in place all around is important, and a lot of the times it's the city actually applying for the grant," said Rep. Jason Metsa (district 6B).

The projects will improve sewer systems, water lines, and roadways for future retail development in cities throughout the Range.

"Overall the funding goes to a lot of great things," said Metsa.

33 projects were approved, setting the stage for the creation of hundreds of new jobs.

"It's a great thing across the Range because we're going to be creating over 350 jobs," said Tony Sertich, commissioner of the IRRRB.

And board members say that infrastructure projects like these mean great news for construction workers.

"In the short term construction jobs are going to be created, in the long term better economic base and future job opportunities," said Sertich.

Hibbing was awarded a $600-thousand grant that will go to improvements on Highway 169 West, while Chisholm was given a $225-thousand grant to replace water, sewer, and roadways.

"Getting all the projects, whether it's the sewer or water... our cities need to be able to handle the capacity of the retiring generation, and not pass that along to them on their local property taxes," said Metsa.

IRRR Board members say these infrastructure improvements are just the first step to a brighter future for the Iron Range.

Of the expected 377 jobs that will be created, 308 of them will be construction based.

Elsa Robins