Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - February 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Calling All Iron Range Manufacturers
IRRRB and Enterprise Minnesota unite to offer business improvement resources to Northeastern Minnesota companies.
Manufacturers on the Iron Range will have a new service in their arsenal for growing their businesses and adding jobs. The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) announced a new program in January to help manufacturers in Northeastern Minnesota gain access to services from Minneapolis-based Enterprise Minnesota.
The $50,000 grant from the IRRRB, a state agency focused on economic development in Northeastern Minnesota, will reimburse qualifying area companies for business improvement services from Enterprise Minnesota. Specifically, they can take advantage of its Growth Acceleration Program (GAP), which provides small manufacturing and manufacturing-related companies with matching grants that help them boost efficiency and eliminate waste.
Four years ago, the state launched the GAP program to encourage job creation in the manufacturing sector. Now the IRRRB and Enterprise Minnesota are teaming up to concentrate more specifically on manufacturers in the Taconite Assistance Area, which is essentially the region served by the IRRRB, including all or parts of Cook, Lake, St. Louis, Itasca, Crow Wing, and Aitkin Counties.
“We’ve got to work for the future,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, speaking in January at the Manufacturers Recognition Brunch in Hibbing during her “Made in America” economic tour. “The future on the Iron Range is making things again, exporting to the world.” Klobuchar also noted that growing the manufacturing sector can happen through partnerships, greater access to expert advice, and education.
GAP funding targeted to the Range certainly fits that bill. Enterprise Minnesota is one of 59 Manufacturing Extension Partnership affiliates associated with the U.S. Department of Commerce that provide services to help clients compete and grow profitably.
Companies receiving consulting services from Enterprise Minnesota will be required to match the IRRRB funding dollar-for-dollar and apply for other available funding to offset the cost. About eight to 10 manufacturers will benefit from the grant.
“IRRRB GAP is a tremendous resource for the Northern Minnesota communities and employees that depend on the economic security that these manufacturers provide,” says Bob Kill, president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota. “Our partnership with IRRRB will help area companies invest in their future, which ultimately creates and retains jobs.”
The statewide GAP program was designed to encourage manufacturers to keep investing in their people and companies even during hard times. So far it has helped 192 manufacturing companies across Minnesota create or retain 1,700 jobs. Participating manufacturers have realized a $30 return for every $1 spent on GAP, and some companies have experienced a 40-to-1 return.
“Manufacturers form the bedrock of many Minnesota communities. They offer high-wage, high-skill jobs that create economic opportunity and stability for the present and future,” says Kill. “Today’s manufacturers compete on a landscape that requires innovation. Enterprise Minnesota helps manufacturers develop and apply strategies to keep competitive—and further position themselves for growth.”
To learn more about GAP funding, go to www.enterpriseminnesota.org/resources/growth-accelerationprogram.html
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