The new ‘Forge’ offers Itasca entrepreneurs a space to develop

The Itasca Economic Development Corporation recently secured over $ 1 million in grants to renovate a 16,500 square foot facility located at 1201 SE Seventh Ave. in Grand Rapids. Dubbed “La Forge”, when completed, the space will be a place for aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs, students, educators and anyone looking to develop new skills to advance a career in the industrial sector. The facility will be equipped with tools, equipment and machinery available for use during prototyping. Industry experts and business consultants will also be available for consultation and advice.

“This project has been in place for so long and we are absolutely delighted to move forward with such power,” said Tamara Lowney, President of the IEDC, in a recent press release. “We recently received a $ 750,000 Rural Innovation Stronger Economy award from the USDA, which will allow us to acquire equipment, complete renovations and create an inspiring place for people to explore and reiterate. big ideas.

The USDA grant program provides assistance to create and increase well-paying jobs, accelerate the creation of new businesses, support industry clusters, and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas. IEDC was one of 10 grant recipients this year.

The facility also received a $ 130,000 grant awarded to its program partner Itasca Community College from the Minnesota Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation and $ 150,000 from Itasca County ARP funds and $ 50,000 from the Smart Region. from Arrowhead.

The facility will also include a high-tech classroom, community break area, student area, and private innovator areas that will be leased to contractors. The company plans to collaborate with existing members of the workforce and provide a space for students to come and learn about the different industries and opportunities in the region.

“We are delighted to see this opportunity at The Forge come to fruition,” said Jessalyn Sabin, Acting Dean of Studies at Hibbing Community College. “When students see what is out there, they realize that the region offers more opportunities than they ever thought possible. La Forge will provide extremely valuable experiences for local students.

The project is a partnership between IDEC, the Northeast Office of Job Training, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and Itasca Community College / Minnesota North Colleges.

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