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EDA Support on its Way to Itasca County

Whether they support major new economic development projects or come in reaction to setbacks in our communities, Northspan has long been a leader in development of applications to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA).

When the UPM Blandin Paper Company announced 150 layoffs in Grand Rapids in late 2017, Northspan jumped into action. We facilitated an extended series of conversations with community stakeholders that brought together a steering committee to develop an economic response. While initial conversations focused on immediate job training needs and supporting the laid off workers, stakeholders also recognized the need for a longer-term strategy to diversify the economy in Itasca County. With an eye toward developing that strategy, the Long Term Strategy Team began exploring the opportunities for an EDA application and recognized that structural changes in the economy in recent years made Itasca County eligible for funding.

As with many past applications, Northspan worked jointly with its partners at the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC), to develop a thorough application on behalf of its client, the Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Northspan also retained the services of its retired former President & CEO, Randy Lasky, to leverage his decades of expertise in EDA applications. With the support of the IEDC board and its chair, Frank Frederickson of Minnesota Power, Lasky, ARDC Principal Planner Josh Bergstad, IEDC President Tamara Lowney, and Northspan’s Karl Schuettler worked together to complete the application. This partnership helped ensure Northspan will remain a leader on EDA applications following Lasky’s retirement.

A commitment of $190,000 from IEDC secured a $190,000 match of federal EDA funding. These funds will facilitate the hiring of an economic recovery coordinator and support an accelerated business retention and expansion initiative to fully understand the situation businesses face, including visits to national or global corporate headquarters when necessary. It will also provide funding to support an update to a target industry analysis for the county that was last completed in 2003 and explore regulatory best practices to make Itasca County a “Preferred Place to Do Business.” Together, these projects offer Itasca County a firm foundation of economic growth in the aftermath of a series of changes to its economy over the past decade.

For further information on Northspan’s work on EDA applications, reach out to Elissa Hansen or Karl Schuettler.