APEX Board & Investor-Member Meeting Highlights

Monday, September 19, 2022

APEX hosted its bi-monthly Board and Investor-Member meeting on Thursday, July 7, 2022, at Pier B Resort and online via Zoom. Chair Lisa Bodine introduced new investor-members Ulland Brothers and Bell Bank and welcomed all APEX investor-member interns attending the meeting. Next, Bodine introduced Deb DeLuca, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority (DSPA). DeLuca provided valuable background on port operations and shared detail on the DSPA’s functional strategic plan – Under Full Sail.

“The Port of Duluth-Superior is a critical asset that connects the entire region to the world,” explained DeLuca. “We’re governed by a diverse, 7-member board of directors that is truly representative of the entire region. Our new strategic plan is designed to help us advocate for our vision of a healthy regional economy supported by a vibrant industrial port.”

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s near-term core strategic priorities include:

  1. Maintain, improve and grow DSPA terminal assets’ abilities to provide flexible and cost-effective supply chain options.
  2. Work with port partners to grow Port of Duluth-Superior opportunity, cargo diversity, trade and tonnage.
  3. Analyze possible growth directions of the DSPA and determine staffing and skill set needs.
  4. Plan for and seek funding for the reuse of Duluth Lake Port to extend Clure Terminal capabilities, capacity and services.
  5. Working with federal and regional partners, plot a long-term future course for maintenance of the navigational channel.
  6. Be the voice of the Port of Duluth-Superior, maritime and multi-modal freight transportation to the community, media, elected officials, economic development partners and business groups.

To achieve these priorities, the DSPA has identified work priorities under its core functional areas: facilities management and capital projects, communications, marketing and outreach, government and environmental affairs, real estate, trade and economic development, and management and operations. For more information about port operations, history and opportunities, visit https://duluthport.com/.

Huber Engineered Woods Update

Tamara Lowney, President and CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), provided an update on investor-member Huber Engineered Woods’ (Huber) project. She first thanked partners at IRRR and DEED for continued leadership and support to move this project forward. The Huber project represents an investment of over $200M in the region. It will bring over 150 jobs to Itasca County and will position our state for next-generation wood products production. As Minnesota Power works to retire the Boswell Energy Center, it is essential to create new jobs in the region. We should be welcoming projects like Huber to the region, not fighting them or disrupting the regulatory process with unnecessary permitting delays or litigation. In Itasca County, we live and breathe an uncertain future every day,” said Lowney. “If we can’t bring a company like Huber into our state, who will come? If we don’t stand up for great business opportunities today, who will we attract tomorrow?"

APEX proposed a Resolution of Support for the Huber project, which was approved by the Board with 1 abstaining vote from Dr. Patricia Rogers at Lake Superior College, which we respectfully acknowledged. APEX stands behind a consistent, fair and timely regulatory process and asks that the business community and local residents demand the same.

Community Development Update

Matt Shermoen, APEX Business Developer, and Ian Vincent, APEX Senior Business Developer, provided rapid-fire updates on several key community development projects. For more information, please reach out directly.

  • Broadband - IRRR, the Blandin Foundation and DEED are working diligently to increase broadband access throughout the region. Contact Matt for more information.
  • Housing - Housing continues to be a key priority throughout the region. 24 projects were completed in Duluth last year, with more in the works in 2022, including a proposed 400-unit redevelopment of the Central School location. Itasca County remains 300 units short and APEX is working with developers on several opportunities. Contact Matt for more information.
  • Workforce - The state is working to allocate $20M in surplus funding to workforce development, but the bill is currently stalled. Locally, the Pathway Program is underway, connecting K-12 to trade schools and local industry. Contact Ian for more information.
  • Childcare - APEX is supporting work to develop relationships with childcare franchise entities, helping identify potential sites and making connections. APEX also helped develop a Childcare Playbook designed to help individuals open facilities in the region. Contact Ian for more information.

Membership Update

Sandy Johnson, APEX Director of Member Relations and Administration, reminded everyone of our incentive program for current investor-members to introduce interested prospective members to APEX.  If the prospect joins APEX, the current member who made the introduction receives $100 in gift cards!  As Sandy said, we can have a greater collective impact if our membership continues to grow. Please refer potential new members to Sandy.

Tamara Lowney, President and CEO, Itasca Economic Development Corporation; Lisa Bodine, President, Giant Voices & APEX Board Chair; Deb DeLuca, Executive Director, Duluth Seaway Port Authority


APEX investor-member interns - the region’s next generation of economic developers and professionals.

Category: Board Meetings, APEX