BITN – July 2021

BITN GraphicBusiness In The News is a compilation of business stories from around Minnesota and neighboring states usually not reported on by Twin Cities media. These stories provide business leads, trends and insights we hope you will find useful.

Mankato to Remain an MSA

The Biden administration has scrapped plans to reclassify metropolitan statistical areas across the nation, including the Mankato MSA. With a population of about 61,000, Mankato/North Mankato could have been downgraded and classified as a “micropolitan area” since it would not have met the 100,000 resident requirements laid out by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this year. Opposition to that plan— including from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and 21 other U.S. Senators—helped lead to the reversal. Federal funding eligibility for infrastructure, transportation, and other critical services to the region will be retained, while avoiding competition between larger and smaller communities. Also, economic development opportunities for the Mankato/North Mankato MSA will continue to be included in business databases that bring new investment. More

Voyager Capital to Rehabilitate Railroad Track to former Potlatch Plant in Grand Rapids

Voyageur Capital Group has been awarded $1.15 million to rehabilitate 5,475 feet of railroad track and reestablish rail service to a Grand Rapids manufacturing plant once operated by Ainsworth Co., and Potlatch before that. The plant has been idle since 2006, and Voyageur bought it along with 138 acres last fall for $800,000. Restoring the rail spur is expected to make the 400,000-square-foot facility more attractive to prospective business.  A range of different industries have made site visits, and it is possible multiple tenants could occupy the facility in the future. This is one of seven projects around the state receiving $4.05 million in grants this year from the Minnesota Department of Transportation as part of its Minnesota Rail Service Improvement program. More

Leveraging the Value of Soy Beyond Protein

Genesis Feed Technologies LLC is out to help people rethink the value of feed ingredients such as soybeans by using market research and a software platform to match Upper Midwest area soybean attributes—such as sugar and amino acid benefits – to specific feed market values. "Soybeans traditionally are traded based on price and protein," owner Peter Schott recently told Agweek. "We take a step back and look at the other pieces of that, there’s a real economic advantage that isn’t being realized on the trading side of it, that we’re helping to find right now.”  The North Dakota Soybean Council is using Genesis Feed Technologies software to promote beans in several countries around the world to help customers see the value provided by soybeans from this region. The pitch in foreign countries: U.S. soybeans versus Argentina’s or Brazil’s may have a $30 per ton advantage, depending upon what other ingredients are traded in that part of the world and what their prices are.  Schott said there generally, is a “sugar advantage” to soybeans that are grown in this region due to the growing conditions, a factor buyers looking for protein levels don't always realize. More

Looking for a New Summer Cocktail? Try Sweethaven Tonics

Leah Trevelyn in New Ulm, Minn., found her niche during the pandemic and decided to launch her very own business called Sweethaven Tonics. Trevelyn uses whole fruits, freshly squeezed juices, fresh herbs, and whole spices to make craft tonics inspired by classic cocktails. This tv report provides more information, including where they are sold.

$3.1 Million Available for Small Businesses Owned and Operated by Diverse Individuals

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded grants totaling $3.1 million to 26 nonprofit lending partners across the state that provide business loans through DEED’s Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program (ELP). The program supports the growth of businesses owned and operated by people who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), low-income persons, women, veterans and/or persons with disabilities. The Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program awards can be used by eligible businesses to finance a variety of start-up and expansion costs. The following organizations (with their primary service areas) were awarded funding:

  • African Development Center, Minneapolis (Statewide) – $150,000
  • African Economic Development Solutions, St. Paul (Twin Cities) – $100,000
  • Central Minnesota Development Company (CMDC), Andover (Statewide) – $100,000
  • Community and Economic Development Associates, Chatfield (Southeast) – $100,000
  • Entrepreneur Fund, Duluth (Northeast/Central) – $150,000
  • First Children’s Finance, Minneapolis (Statewide) – $150,000
  • Greater Bemidji, Inc., Bemidji (Northwest) – $75,000
  • Headwaters Regional Finance Corporation, Bemidji (Northwest) – $75,000
  • Initiative Foundation, Little Falls (Central) – $150,000
  • Latino Economic Development Center, St. Paul (Statewide) – $150,000
  • Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers, Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $150,000
  • Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $150,000
  • Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corp., Detroit Lakes (Statewide) – $75,000
  • Neighborhood Development Center, St. Paul (Twin Cities) – $175,000
  • New American Development Center, Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $75,000
  • NextStage, Bloomington (Twin Cities) – $75,000
  • North Central Economic Development Association, Staples (Central) – $75,000
  • Northland Foundation, Duluth (Northeast) – $150,000
  • Northside Economic Opportunity Network, Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $150,000
  • Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Bemidji (Northwest) -- $150,000
  • Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., Rochester (Southeast) – $100,000
  • Seward Redesign, Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $100,000
  • Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Owatonna (Southeast) – $100,000
  • Southwest Initiative Foundation, Hutchinson (Southwest) – $150,000
  • WomenVenture, Minneapolis (Twin Cities) – $150,000
  • Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., Worthington (Southwest) – $75,000


Cohasset Lands $440 Million OSB Plant; 150 Direct Jobs Expected

Charlotte, N.C.-based Huber Engineered Woods LLC plans to build a $440 million oriented strand board (OSB) plant in Cohasset, just west of Grand Rapids. The company hopes to break ground this fall or next spring. It’s estimated that it has been 40 years since a mill was built in Minnesota. This one is expected to create more than 150 direct jobs while benefiting the region’s loggers and truckers. The company said it will need about 400,000 cords of wood a year to feed its new plant. The project is set to receive about $30 million in production incentives approved by the Legislature, a $20 million investment from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and a $15 million forgivable loan from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation. More

Imaging Technology Company Ikonics to be Acquired by Bitcoin Miner

Duluth-based imaging technology company Ikonics has entered into a merger agreement with TeraWulf Inc, a Bitcoin mining company based in Easton, Maryland. The businesses are expected to become the new holding company TeraWulf Inc. later this year and will be publicly traded as WULF on the NASDAQ stock market. TeraWulf's goal is to generate environmentally-sustainable bitcoin cryptocurrency at an industrial scale using 90% zero-carbon energy. Bitcoin mining is a computer process that calculates and solves complicated math problems to produce new bitcoin and verify its transaction information, making the network trustworthy and secure. Miners must verify that a transaction is accurate and not duplicated. TeraWulf says it has 60,000 miners on order and expects to have 50 megawatts of mining capacity online this year. The company plans to have 800 MW of mining capacity by 2025. More

Shipyard Sold to Norwegian and Chicago Investors

Superior, Wis.-based Fraser Industries has been acquired by Cleaves Invest of Norway and Foundry Mountain Infrastructure Partners of Chicago in a joint venture called Infrastructure Acquisition Partners. Fraser is a 60-acre shipyard that had been under Duluth-based Capstan Corp. since 1977. The shipyard can service the largest ships on the Great Lakes and includes custom-boat-builder Lake Assault Boats and Northern Engineering Co., which offers maintenance and repair for maritime and other industrial organizations. Foundry Mountain Infrastructure Partners is an infrastructure firm that partners with teams to help them grow and optimize their business. More