APEX Board & Investor-Member Meeting Highlights

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Cohasset Welcomes Engineered Wood Products Manufacturer, J.M. Huber Corporation

APEX hosted its bi-monthly Board and Investor-Member meeting on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at the Inn on Lake Superior and virtually via Zoom. After the September 2021 meeting minutes and financials were approved, Lisa Bodine, APEX Chair and Giant Voices President, introduced keynote speaker Tamara Lowney, President of Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Tamara shared an update on the J.M. Huber Corporation’s (Huber) expansion into Minnesota, the company’s largest capital investment to date. Huber Engineered Woods (HEW) will be opening a manufacturing plant in Cohasset which will produce a high-quality engineered wood product that is designed to maintain sustainable product development into the future.

The HEW facility will create over 150 direct jobs in Itasca County plus another 300-375 satellite jobs that support Huber employees. IEDC expects to see more activity surrounding this project in early 2022, and operations are projected to begin in 2024. Attracting Huber to the region is a perfect example of collaboration in action. Partnerships between IRRRB, DEED, Itasca County, Minnesota Power, an ALLETE Company, the city of Cohasset, APEX and IEDC, among others, were essential to securing a project of this magnitude.

Tamara closed her talk with a reminder that although Huber has made an official announcement about their move to Minnesota, there is still work to be done and challenges to overcome. We can all help ensure a successful Huber launch by continuing to advocate for the HEW project and engage with the community.

From left: Lisa Bodine, President/Giant Voices & APEX Chair; Brian Hanson, President & CEO/APEX, Tamara Lowney, President & CEO/Itasca Economic Development Corporation

The Results are In! Fall APEX Investor-Member Meetings

Top Opportunities?

Every fall, APEX conducts meetings to keep a pulse on the regional economic climate and gather investor-member input. The top opportunities reflect both workforce and community development challenges and business development opportunities, including:

  1. Workforce Development & Talent Attraction
  2. Community Development Issues: Housing, Childcare & Broadband
  3. Natural Resources & Value-Added Manufacturing
  4. Aviation Development
  5. Sustainable Energy Supply Chains
  6. Addressing Business Climate Shortcomings

The APEX team will continue to prioritize our work in these areas in the year to come.

How Can APEX Create More Value?

The Fall Investor-Member Meetings also revealed opportunities for APEX to create more value for both investor-members and the region. Recommendations included:

  • Promote local investments
    1. Buy locally manufactured goods
    2. Build on APEX Angels
    3. Business attraction & expansion
  • Economic development public education
    1. Promote benefits of expanding regional tax base
    2. Share business voices and stories - “benefits of growing business”

How can APEX Increase Membership?

Communicate, communicate, communicate! It is also clear investor-members appreciate hearing updates on APEX’s work, with communication recommendations including:

  • Keep hybrid meetings
  • Continue sharing the Pinnacle, and post stories and updates on social media channels
  • Increase membership networking opportunities
  • Position APEX as a regional thought leader by sharing knowledge with the media

APEX Dashboard Highlights

Brian Hanson provided an overview of APEX’s Dashboard, including:

  • Achieve 6 significant milestones – 6 obtained.
  • Conduct 60 BR&E Visits – 30 w/members; Total of 60 visits will be completed by year-end.
  • Add 12 new projects to the APEX Deal Sheet – 18 added.
  • Add 6 new APEX Members – 7 new members joined.
  • Medical Pathfinder Project – In progress, to be completed in 2022.
  • Transportation Pathfinder Project – Completed.

APEX Media Response Engagement Team

Erica Danielski, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Strategy at maurices and member of the APEX Media Response Engagement Team (MRET), announced the MRET will soon be sending a survey designed to help the committee determine areas of focus for 2022.

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