Iron Range downtown revitalization projects on tap

This new pocket park in downtown Chisholm is an example of the kinds of projects being funded to revitalize downtowns across the Mesabi Iron Range. (IRRRB)

You can’t legislate beauty. But you can clean a place up and take some pride in your community. You can also deploy public art as a way to change attitudes and outlooks.

That’s the logic behind a small but growing movement to revitalize Mesabi Iron Range communities.

The IRRRB announced their 2018 Downtown and Business Corridor grant projects recently. Here’s a list of the approved projects:

  • Chisholm KIDS PLUS (Chisholm Downtown Revitalization Team) – $24,820: Art sculpture and enhanced decorative lighting in O’Neill Park, event banners and an updated music system in downtown.
  • City of Cook – $25,000: River Street Park way path and outdoor patio in central downtown.
  • City of Eveleth – $15,280: Two metal statutes of former hockey icons in the continued development of the city’s “Salute to Hockey.”
  • City of Grand Rapids – $28,500: Three art mural building facades produced by area artists, sidewalk poetry and lamp post banners.
  • City of Hibbing – $50,000: Art mural wraps on eight highly visible utility boxes and the Boomtown historic street front project.
  • City of Nashwauk – $50,000: Landscape, accessibility enhancements and a mini-mine park at the Hawkins Pit Overlook at the junction of Central Avenue & First Street.
  • Screen Porch Productions, GoNorthMN – $6,400: Benches with solar lights and seasonal displays in five key locations: Emily, Fifty Lakes, Outing (Crooked Lake Township), Fairfield Township and Little Pine Township.

None of the projects are huge. But taken as a whole they affect an important type of change: the kind you can see and feel. That’s the kind of change that, even in small doses, matters to people deciding where to live and where to invest time and money. In essence, these small investments of money (and large investments of volunteer time) are as important as the rest of the Iron Range’s much more expensive economic development strategy.

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