People with and without disabilities will be gaining additional job opportunities at a new Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI) manufacturing facility.
The IRRR Board Tuesday in St. Paul approved a $1 million loan and $350,000 infrastructure grant to help build MDI build a new $4.7 million, 35,000 square-foot facility in Hibbing.
The new facility allows MDI to increase job opportunities, improve working conditions and expand its business of making plastic totes and trays.
"We're a partner with entities like IRRRB and Blandin Foundation to provide employment on the range," said Peter McDermott, MDI president and chief executive officer. "Making plastic totes products and trays is a means to an end for us."
The new energy efficient facility will be built on a ten-acre site along Highway 37 west of Range Regional Airport. It replaces a roughly 100-year old, 18,000 square-foot facility in downtown Hibbing that previously housed a grocery store and the Greyhound bus station.
"It's going to be almost twice the size, much more efficient and will provide employees with better working conditions and the room to expand jobs," said McDermott.
MDI currently employs about 83 at its Hibbing facility, including 57 permanent employees and 26 temporary contractors. Over the next 10 years, MDI is projected to add 100 full-time equivalent jobs for persons with and without disabilities at the new plant.
"There's clearly a need for these jobs, especially for folks with disabilities," said McDermott. "There's a demand for it."
Initially, the new facility will produce plastic totes and trays for the United States Postal Service, said McDermott. However, the new facility gives MDI the flexibility to produce new products and perform overflow work from other MDI facilities, he said. MDI in 2016 moved into an acquired building in Cohasset and also operates facilities in Grand Rapids and the Twin Cities.
"Within the last three years, we have upgraded our Twin Cities facility, moved into Cohasset and have a real nice building in Grand Rapids," said McDermott. "So when we have the new Hibbing facility done, we will have four efficient facilities with very good working conditions and room to expand."