New business activity, jobs on tap for Carlton CountyCarlton County Commissioners unanimously approved $200,000 in economic development loans on Tuesday that should result in a significant creation of new jobs and business in the county.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Carlton County Commissioners unanimously approved $200,000 in economic development loans on Tuesday that should result in a significant creation of new jobs and business in the county.
The board endorsed a loan for $100,000 to Advanced Design Awnings and Signs, Inc., of Scanlon toward the purchase of the business, assets and equipment of J & R Signs Company (dba Lakehead Sign) of Duluth. According to Carlton County Economic Development Director Pat Oman, the loan from Carlton County’s revolving loan fund will be repaid at an interest rate of 3 percent with a 20-year amortization.
Advanced Design was established in 1978 under the InsTent brand, initially manufacturing ice fishing tents and later progressing into the manufacture of fabric, vinyl, illuminated and metal awnings and signs throughout the region. The company also provides sign design services to a number of national clients, including Maurices, Jimmy Johns and Erbert & Gerbert’s.
The company is owned by Chris Mathews and has 14 employees.
Lakehead Sign Company was founded in 1970 specializing in neon signage. Over the past four decades, Lakehead has grown as a result of repeat business and referrals from accounts in need of installation service, including Target Corporation, Holiday Inn, the University of Minnesota Duluth and many others.
“By purchasing Lakehead, we are expanding our presence in the sign industry and gaining access to Lakehead’s design and production facilities, adding knowledgeable, innovative and creative employees to the Advanced Design family,” said Mathews in a news release Tuesday.
The acquisition of J & R Signs is expected to result in the creation of an additional 4.5 jobs locally.
Advanced Awning plans are to conduct all manufacturing and management operations at their current building located at 1600 29th St., Scanlon, although Lakehead’s installation department will continue to operate out of its Superior shop for the time being.
In a second motion, commissioners unanimously approved a $100,000 development loan to Minnesota Health Systems, with an interest rate of 3 percent and a 20-year amortization. The company, which currently operates in leased space in Duluth, plans to purchase a building located at 199 Chestnut Ave. in Carlton from Woodlands National Bank. Northwoods Credit Union and DataFax Systems currently lease space in the building and are expected to remain. Minnesota Health plans to occupy 2,712 square feet of space in the building formerly occupied by Carlton County Abstract and Title Company.
Minnesota Health Systems is currently owned by former Carlton resident Ryan Lee and is an authorized distributor for Health Mor Industries, which specializes in the manufacturing of an indoor air quality system. Minnesota Health Systems handles all the sales, advertising, marketing and service of the system for several different locations.
The business will bring 26 existing full-time jobs to the area and anticipates adding four new jobs as well. Oman stated that future opportunities envisioned by the company include developing the second level of the building into residential rental opportunities within its first year of occupancy. The building ownership will fall under a corporation owned by principals Ryan Lee and Ron Tondryk.
In other economic development activity to take place at Tuesday’s board meeting, commissioners approved a $4,000 housing rehabilitation loan to Carey Monson of Cloquet to supplement a Small Cities Development Award she received in the amount of $21,000. The money will go toward drilling a new well, installation of a new holding tank, installation of a new high-energy furnace, replacement of the water heater and electrical work.
A similar loan was approved for Ken and Judith Thiry of Cloquet in the amount of $6,000 to supplement a $21,000 Small Cities forgivable loan for window and door replacement, basement insulation, installation of new siding, and handicapped accessibility upgrades, among other things.
Board members approved a $960 tourism grant to the city of Kettle River for the installation of signage on the community’s light poles.
Oman outlined the marketing plan for the county’s airports, which is budgeted at $1,000 a year. The primary expense for this year, he said, will be to install advertising signage on Highway 33 in Cloquet to direct people to the Cloquet Airport. Part of the plan will also be to revamp the county airport website, target mailings and develop brochures to inform potential clients about available hangar and business park space and publicize the grand opening of the newly renovated space at the Moose Lake Airport.
Finally, County Planning and Zoning Director Bruce Benson announced to the board that he will retire July 13. Benson has been with the county for 38-plus years. The board authorized County Coordinator Dennis Genereau to begin the process to fill Benson’s position.
The board also authorized Genereau to advertise for a .5 FTE custodial position to fill in for vacationing staff members. Genereau explained that previously, the county filled in the vacation slots by utilizing students, but the current custodial staff has reached a level of seniority that they have accumulated a significant amount of time off. The job opening will be advertised immediately.