(Northland's NewsCenter)---Iron Rangers beware. If someone randomly stops you on the street and gives you a hug, don't be alarmed.
A new marketing campaign is designed to get people to embrace their appreciation for Minnesota's Iron Range, by hugging Iron Rangers.
Whether you'd feel comfortable hugging someone to salute the Iron Range is one thing.
But it's safe to say, mining has been the backbone of the region's economy for decades.
But not everyone knows just how big of an impact it has.
"I've got friends in Minneapolis who still wonder whether mining still exists," Tom Jamar, President of Jasper Engineering said. "So it's a well kept secret that that we are strong."
"I talk to people that aren't even aware that we are still mining on the Iron Range," Commissioner Keith Nelson of District-6 said. "Yes, isn't that alarming that people don't even know that we are still mining up here?"
The Hug a Ranger theme stuck after Commissioner Nelson used the phrase during a recent speech in St. Paul.
Now his words, along with Hug a Ranger buttons and informational pamphlets are helping spark interest in the region's economic impact.
"It truly is a marketing piece to educate greater Minnesota and hopefully these hug a ranger pins find their way out there," Commissioner Nelson said. "They've become quite a collectors item already."