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Laurentian Business and Industry

Because of vast natural reserves, much industry in the quad cities revolves around mining, forest products, and newly discovered resources. For over 100 years, iron ore mining has provided thousands of well-paying jobs for people in the area. The mining industry continues to hold strong because of the discovery of Taconite (an iron-bearing rock). Found in large deposits in recent years, other minerals such as copper, nickel and precious metals are also being looked at for potential commercialization. The timber industry contributes to the regional economy as well. New innovations, such as the harnessing of wind energy and a clean coal gasification technology will create a positive economic and environmental impact for residents of northeastern Minnesota and the entire state.

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Northeastern Minnesota is rapidly becoming one of the most technologically- equipped rural areas in the nation. Technology centers, high-tech industrial parks, training programs and an extensive telecommunications infrastructure are among the list of efforts to equip the region for this new economy. Companies such as Northwest Airlines and Carlson Wagonlit Travel/SATO Travel have discovered that the region’s quality of life, dedicated workforce and business development incentives combine to form an ideal operating environment. Technology centers, offering hi-speed Internet connections, computer labs, and business support services are beginning to emerge in the area as well. Existing technology centers include the Itasca Technology Exchange and Ely Area Technology Center, and over 10 more technology centers are planned for the future.

There are tax-free business opportunities in Minnesota. Under the new Minnesota Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) program, 34 communities and 58 sub-zones on 3,271 acres across northeastern Minnesota have been given this special designation. A wide variety of industrial sites and existing buildings in this area offer growing and expanding businesses the opportunity to substantially benefit from tax exemptions until the end of 2015.

Northeastern Minnesota is well-known for its highly skilled, educated and productive employees. Turnover rate is low, and the region has become a draw for companies looking for outstanding employees. Labor statistics in northeastern Minnesota show an educated workforce. 91 percent of Minnesotans have a high school education or above, 17 percent have earned bachelor degrees and 50 percent are professionally certified or licensed (source: Bureau of Business & Economic Research UMD School of Business and Economics). A 2005 study from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development found that regional employment is divided as follows: Health Care and Social Assistance – 20.6 percent; Retail Trade – 12.9 percent; Educational Services – 9.4 percent; Manufacturing – 8 percent; Public Administration – 7.1 percent; Mining – 2.7 percent.

Top employers in the area include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, United States Steel Corportation, Woodline Manufacturing, Inc., Minnesota Power, Belcorp and Premier Plastics.

The Laurentian Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization made of over 325 members representing business/industry throughout the quad cities and surrounding communities. The Chamber plays an important role in community partnerships and is an advocate for business civic, and industrial interests. The Chamber is also an information and referral center serving businesses in Eveleth, Gilbert, Mountain Iron, Virginia and surrounding communities.

Contact information for the Laurentian Chamber of Commerce:
403 First Street North,Virginia, MN 55792 , Phone: 218-741-2717
E-mail: admin@laurentianchamber.org
Website: http://laurentianchamber.org/

Information about business and industry in northeastern Minnesota: http://ironrangeresources.org/

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