A Minnesota economic development agency on Tuesday approved a $10 million loan for a Missouri-based cannabis company planning to build an indoor cultivation operation in a former lumber mill in Grand Rapids that has sat vacant for the past 15 years, MPR News reports. The company, HWY35, said the site will create 400 jobs over two phases of construction that will average $24 an hour, with annual salaries ranging from $40,000 to $160,000.
Financing for the project also calls for a $10 million loan from the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development and $2 million in tax increment financing from Grand Rapids.
In a statement, Rob Mattei, community development director for the city of Grand Rapids, said the project will “further diversify” the city’s manufacturing base, “fully utilize the public’s past and present investments in infrastructure and substantially contribute to the growth” of the regional economy.
Ida Rukavina, commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), the development agency that approved the $10 million loan, told MPR that the project helps achieve the agency’s goal of diversifying the regional economy away from mining and timber.
“We know that not everyone may agree with this type of industry. But it is now legal in the state of Minnesota. This type of manufacturing, if it doesn’t happen here, it is going to happen somewhere else in our state.” — Rukavina to MPR
Mathew Sjoberg, IRRR director of business development for Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation (IRRR), added that HWY35 hopes to have licenses secured by the middle of next year and be in operation by the end of next year.
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