On December 16, 2012, Joe Broking, President & CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), met with Rob West, President & CEO of APEX to discuss the results of the two organizations’ collaborative efforts over the past two years and to renew the contract which defines the agreement. Under the terms of this arrangement, APEX provides a fulltime staff person to serve as a member of the IEDC team in Grand Rapids, with an objective of driving new economic activity and job growth in and around Itasca County.
The contract with APEX, initiated in February, 2010, came on the heels of the IEDC’s decision to purchase the former Ainsworth oriented strand board manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids and has provided a necessary level of support as IEDC completed a period of management transition and worked to redevelop the former board plant for future use. As such, much of the team’s work over the past two years has been focused on redeveloping the site as the Itasca Eco Industrial Park (IEIP), a premiere location for world-class manufacturing operations in the heart of North America.
In marketing this property to new and expanding businesses, the APEX/IEDC team sought to attract companies which would leverage the region’s extensive timber resources, so as to regain not just the production jobs lost through the closure of the Ainsworth operation, but also the logging and supplier jobs associated with the timber demand of the former OSB mill.
Given the sustained downturn in the nation’s housing market and flat growth reported in the region’s paper/pulp mills, the team quickly set its sights on the advanced biofuels, biochemical and biopharmaceutical industries, as among the few areas of notable growth in the nation’s forest products sector. An extensive marketing plan was developed to penetrate these industries and today, the team is pleased to report that a memo of understanding has been executed with one of the world’s leading advanced biofuels producers. Formal agreements are expected to be secured sometime in 2012.
Today, as the APEX/IEDC team looks to renew its contract for the next two years, the 2012-2013 marketing plan has been expanded to focus on a number of other opportunities in and around Itasca County, beyond the work which continues to progress at the IEIP. The APEX/IEDC team will continue its efforts to close the deal with the potential anchor tenant and to market the remaining land parcels to other synergistic businesses, but 2012 will also see the rise of new initiatives aimed at supporting the large mining-related projects in Itasca County and expanding the IT/Computer Sciences sector in the Grand Rapids area.
If you would like to learn more about APEX’s work in Itasca County and across Minnesota’s Iron Range communities, please contact Jeff Borling at: (218) 326-9411, ext. 23