Grand Rapids, Minn. – Aided by recent grants from the Blandin Foundation and the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, MDI announced today that it is purchasing a polypropylene extruder that will be located at its Grand Rapids facility and is projected to come online by the end of 2021. MDI is a nonprofit manufacturer with nearly half its employees made up of people with disabilities.

“This state-of-the-art machine will drastically improve our ability to provide a seamless experience for our customers and solidifies our place as a top provider of plastic containers and packaging solutions,” said MDI President and CEO Peter McDermott. “This investment benefits our customers and furthers our continued mission of providing employment opportunities and services for people with disabilities.”

The extruder will create sheets of material that can be sold to other businesses and used to make boxes, totes and trays for commercial customers. MDI previously sourced these sheets from other vendors, which extended lead times and prevented competitiveness. Now, the nonprofit manufacturer will be able to produce up to five million sheets per year and create 70 jobs across northern Minnesota over the next 10 years.

“Our continued support of MDI has brought immeasurable benefits and impact to our community, particularly people with disabilities,” said Tuleah Palmer, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “We were excited to be able to support this long-term investment in growth and ultimately, in the people of Grand Rapids.”

MDI received $675,000 from the Blandin Foundation and $250,000 from Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation to go toward the cost of the extruder and related infrastructure, which ultimately cost a total of $2.9 million. The extruder is being manufactured in Italy and will be shipped to the Minneapolis Port and trucked to the MDI facility in Grand Rapids. The next several months will be used to reconfigure equipment in the Grand Rapids facility, making room for the extruder and downstream equipment. The project has a nine-month lead time, and MDI expects to have the equipment online and begin providing products to customers in late 2021.

“As we tackle an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, the agency’s investment in MDI supports good, stable jobs and quality employment for people on the Iron Range,” said Mark Phillips, Commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.

About MDI
MDI is a trusted Minnesota manufacturer and nonprofit social enterprise with the mission to provide employment opportunities and services for people with disabilities. We create high-quality plastic containers to ship, pack and store products, and offer unparalleled product assembly and packaging services for organizations across the country, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. By offering an inclusive workplace that allows employees to build confidence, independence and purpose, MDI’s work results in dedicated employees and satisfied customers. To learn more, visit