This Week at Rotary
We Meet at Noon on Thursday
March 1, 2021
For Those Attending in Person
Plated Meal
Count Needed
(Zoom Meeting Opens at 11:45)
(Link Sent Thursday Morning)
Hayes Scriven
First Year at Split Rock Lighthouse
Starting any new job can be stressful! Imagine starting a job at a beloved Minnesota landmark, moving your family onto a historic site toss in a global pandemic, and you have for an interesting first year as the new site manager at Split Rock Lighthouse.
Highlights from Last Week’s Meeting
By Traci A. Marciniak
It was another hybrid meeting, with some Club #25 members meeting in person at the Holiday Inn and others joining via ZOOM.
Jeff Fifield, Past President Holly Sampson, and Geiger Yount all reported they have received or are scheduled to receive their COVID vaccine. It must feel a bit like winning the lottery when you get the call to schedule! Darlene Anderson happily reported that her petunias are beginning to sprout from the starter seeds she planted indoors in preparation for the spring planting season. Sheryl Homan gave a quick report on how training is progressing with her new puppy.
President Dean Casperson range the bell and called the meeting to order. Club members recited the Pledge of Allegiance and the Rotary 4-Way Test.
Club #25 President Dean Casperson takes charge!
Past Assistant Governor Phil Strom offered the reflection for the day, recognizing the positive impact the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation (IRRRB) has had on the life of residents of the Iron Range and beyond. As the world strives to create more sustainable forms of energy, the reliance on copper, nickel, rare earths, and other minerals is ever increasing, which has its own implications for the planet. He closed his remarks with this thoughtful comment: “It is not the intent of this reflection to change your mind regarding the many implications of these matters.  It is important however, that we are open to the discussion of the long range global implications of our decisions.” 
President Dean Casperson introduced our guest, Matthew Striver. Dr. Samantha Hellmann was also introduced as a new Club #25 member. Welcome Samantha!
Announcements included a “call for new members” that Jerry Thoreson has posted on Facebook. The Rotary Club of Cloquet is hosting a snowmobile rally and spaghetti dinner on Saturday, March 6, to support area youth. Check out their website for more information.
Chair of the Day Jeff Iisakka introduced speaker Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Department of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRRB). Commissioner Phillips has a strong background in economic development and is a recipient of the Economic Development Association of Minnesota’s Career Achievement Award.
The IRRRB was established 80 years ago by Governor Harold Stassen and the Minnesota Legislature in response to the extreme challenges the Iron Range faced after the Great Depression. Their mission: Invest resources to foster vibrant growth and economic prosperity in Northeastern Minnesota.
The IRRRB takes a three-pronged approach to improve the life of residents throughout the Iron Range communities within their focus area, which covers 13,000 square miles, 53 cities, 134 townships, 14 school districts, and 4 Tribal Nations.
#1: Business Investment, which include loans and grants for businesses in the region. In 2019–2020, the IRRRB provided $9.1 million in loans which generated investment of $40 million to support and improve businesses.
#2: Community Investment, to improve the quality of life for residents. In 2019–2020, the IRRRB provided $36.17 million in community grants, which leveraged a staggering $321.11 million in project investments in the region.
#3: Workforce Development, to ensure workers have the necessary education and skills to meet the needs of regional business. Grant programs and training are geared towards the existing workforce, as well as college and high school students.
In 2020, the IRRRB created a $5 million dollar loan program in response to challenges the region was facing due to COVID. To date, the program has awarded 89 loans totaling $3,074,972, which resulted in the retention of 884 jobs across the Iron Range.
The IRRRB is responsible for Giants Ridge recreation area and in 2015 changed the management structure to a private management firm. This has resulted in increased revenue and less subsidy. The future looks bright for Giants Ridge as more emphasis is put on investment to draw visitors.
IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips illustrates the impact of mining in Northern Minnesota.