Biotech company wants a $53 million home on Minnesota's Iron Range


A fledgling company with plans to turn timber into industrial chemicals and fuels wants to build a $53 million plant on Minnesota's Iron Range. And a regional agency may put together a loan package to cover nearly half the cost.

Sweetwater Energy is a Rochester, New York, company with plans to build manufacturing plants in that city and in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.

On Friday, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) will vote on whether to approve an $18 million loan, which would be added to state loans to create a $26 million economic aid package for the project.

Sweetwater hopes to open the plant in 2017 and says it would start with 35 employees but that figure could grow to more than 100.

IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips says in a statement the project would put northeastern Minnesota on the leading edge of the growing biotech industry, using the area's natural resources to create well-paying jobs and diversify the local economy.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, if the aid package is approved it would be the second-largest ever offered by the IRRRB.

In an interview with the Star Tribune, Phillips acknowledged it would be a big expenditure for the state but added: "... if the state wants to play in this bio industry segment, these are the kinds of deals we have to consider. It’s an emerging industry, and the world is turning away from carbon-based chemicals to more plant-based and biodegradable-based products.”

The Star Tribune says under the deal Sweetwater would not receive the state money until it has lined up the other $26.8 million needed to build the plant.

Next Up

Mike Zimmer

Vikings miss game-winning field goal, fall to 0-2

Greg Joseph's chip shot attempt as time expired spoiled a late comeback.

Jose Berrios

Berríos leads Blue Jays in first start against Twins

Berríos got the win on Sunday but could the Twins win the deal down the road?


Crash in southern Minnesota kills motorcyclist

The crash happened Saturday at Highway 42 and County Road 14 in Highland Township.

Oli Udoh

Vikings-Cardinals: 5 things you can count on happening

The Vikings need a win in the desert but will they get one on Sunday?

Kyler Murray

How can the Vikings stop Kyler Murray?

The Cardinals quarterback accounted for five touchdowns against the Titans.

Red's Pizza in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

'Landmark' Wisconsin pizza joint to close amid worker shortage

The restaurant has been a local favorite since 1957.

Ky Thomas

Potts, Gopher defense dominate Buffaloes

Trey Potts ran for three touchdowns in a 30-0 victory in Boulder.

police tape, crime scene

Suspect dies by suicide after 11 hour standoff in Wisconsin motel

The standoff occurred at a motel in Balsam Lake.

U.S. district court minnesota - federal court

Four sentenced for home invasion on northern Minnesota reservation

The incident took place in October 2019 on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.