IRRRB leaders speak on $10M loan proposal for marijuana growing, manufacturing facility
GRAND RAPIDS, MN. (Northern News Now) -- The Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) approved a multimillion-dollar loan to help fund a proposed cannabis facility, but not all were in agreement.
The chair of the IRRRB, Rep. Spencer Igo, voted in favor Tuesday of giving a $10 million-dollar loan to HWY35 LLC., the company behind the proposed recreational marijuana growing and manufacturing facility.
“The manufacturing had to happen somewhere,” said Rep. Igo. “Why not have that start here in northern Minnesota to give our communities, or people a seat at the table to start that business.”
HWY35 LLC. plans to revitalize the 138-acre Ainsworth Site for their facility, which was closed back in 2008.
Something that has board members like Igo, excited for the growth that could come from the massive project.
“I see this project as a way not only to increase local tax base, but provide over 400 family jobs, and diversify our economy,” said Rep. Igo.
However, others on the board, like Sen. Justin Eichorn say it’s too early to jump into the cannabis market. Those like Eichorn want more time to vet the company behind the project and ensure licensing.
“I didn’t think the proposal was quite ready for prime time,” said Sen. Eichorn. “The office of cannabis management is not even set up yet. We don’t know what that regulatory framework is going to look like for 12, 13, 14, 16 months.”
The Republican said, he also heard from constituents, who told him they don’t want that type of facility there.
“The financial cost side of the equation, but also the social cost side of the equation,” said Eichorn.
However, leaders on both sides of the issue say the money will stay with the IRRRB until licensing from HWY35 is in hand.
The $67 million dollar facility could be operational by the end of next year.
We did reach out to HWY35 LLC. and did not hear back.
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