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The Forge opens at Itasca Economic Development Center

A group of people stand outside holding a ribbon, in the snow, in front of a sign, to commemorate the opening of The Forge.
Itasca Economic Development Corporation's grand opening ceremony for The Forge on Dec. 6 in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Itasca Economic Development Corporation offers assistance to entrepreneurs and has now opened a facility called The Forge, where community members can rent space to learn skills like welding.

GRAND RAPIDS- In Grand Rapids, a forge is not just a process of high heat melding of metal. It’s also a gathering place where the community can actually learn to weld and collaborate with experts and each other.

The Forge is described as a space for innovators, students, entrepreneurs and workers to bring forth curiosity and ambition to evolve ideas. It's a new venture from Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

This story is from a conversation on the KAXE Morning Show with Heidi Holtan and Kari Hedlund.

A blonde haired woman smiles confidently.
Tamara Lowney is President of IEDC, Itasca Economic Development Corporation in Grand Rapids, Minn.

Business support and new incubator space in Itasca County

Tamara Lowney, President of IEDC, stopped by KAXE to talk about some of the new projects in the region.

"What I'm most excited about at The Forge - you guys - is that next week, Minnesota North College is going to start their first welding classes," said Lowney.

"Just to know the journey we've come with the location, to get contracts signed with these partners and to see students in there," she said, "we've been having high school students come through on tours and it's been just incredible to see that sort of blossom."

Lowney explained The Forge will eventually offer welding for community members as well.

More events and projects ahead

Spark Collaborative is a new project for IEDC to partner with other small counties in northern Minnesota like Cass and Beltrami for federal funding.

"We're just not that competitive, and so we've been trying to just broaden our horizons, " she said, explaining new relationships with towns like Bemidji, with similar industries and populations.

The 2-day conference at the Timberlake Lodge on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and 22. The event page describes opportunities in the areas of energy, clean tech, workforce, entrepreneurship and tribal relations.

What do you think?

Tell us about your community! Are there new businesses and ideas? Email us!

Listen to the full conversation from the KAXE Morning Show above.

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