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Data center marketing package nominated for award

No company has taken up Lake County’s offer to host a data center yet, but the attempts to attract business have been recognized.

The Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), a business development firm, has been nominated for an award by the Mid-America Economic Development Council for its marketing plan for a Lake County data center.

0 Talk about it

“We’ve been nominated for the state’s marketing award for the Lake County initiative,” APEX’s director of business development Elissa Hansen told the Lake County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting this week. “Fingers crossed. I’m feeling really good about it.”

APEX has been marketing the county as a location for a data center since April 2013. Data centers house large computers that store information for companies. They require massive cooling systems because the machines produce heat as their backup systems keep information flowing.

Proponents have argued that the North Shore is an ideal location for a data center due to its cool temperatures. Hansen said that Lake County has numerous other benefits: its in-progress countywide broadband network, tax incentives and relatively low electricity costs.

She also said that they are planning to take business leaders out to the proposed site in the coming year to generate more interest. A potential data center would be built on 120 acres located just off of Ives Road in the western part of the county.

The marketing kit for the property includes a fact sheet, a video and an iPad app.

Range ATV trail would connect to Lake County At the same meeting, commissioners expressed support for a proposed 130-mile ATV trail connecting four Iron Range towns.

The proposed Prospector’s Loop would connect Ely, Babbitt, Tower and Embarrass. It would also include Bear Head State Park and Lake Vermillion State Park while tying into the Lake County trail system. The commissioners were receptive to supporting the project.

“It fits our vision for the region and it makes sense,” said commissioner Brad Jones.

Though no financial support has been pledged, the commissioners said they would be willing to act as the fiscal agent for the trail’s proponents.

“While I was working for the DNR, I always thought this was a project that needed to happen,” said Ron Potter, a retired Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee and member of the Prospector’s Loop board. “Hopefully we can connect these communities together by a trail system.”

Other county board notes • The county has been called to a meeting that will likely resolve its Federal Communications Commission dispute with Frontier Communications. In November, the county filed a complaint with the FCC against Frontier regarding its broadband project. Frontier, a communications service provider in the county that will be competing with the publically-owned broadband provider in Lake County, demanded that the county rehang some of its fiber optic cables. The county’s complaint with the FCC said that Frontier’s demands are in violation of the Communications Act. The FCC will meet with Frontier and representatives of Lake Connections on Feb. 22 to resolve the issue.

• The commissioners are gearing up for Capitol Days, an annual event held in March during which representatives of the county meet with lawmakers regarding county issues. The commissioner will be narrowing down which issues to take to the Capitol in the coming weeks. The Arrowhead Counties Association, a lobbying group made up of representatives from Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties, has also been drafting its legislative priorities. They include securing bonding for improvements to the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, drafting new shoreland regulations and maintaining PILT payments – money that goes mostly to schools that the state and federal governments pay on publically-owned land.

• The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has asked that county ordinances regarding septic systems be updated this year. The county will be working on a new ordinance and holding public meetings to review the proposed changes in the coming year.

• At its first meeting of the year, the board made a significant change to its schedule. In previous years, the majority of county board meetings were held at 9:30 a.m., with one 1 p.m. meeting and one evening meeting each month. Now, all regular county board meetings will be held at 1 p.m. in the Lake County Board Room, located in the courthouse. The schedule will be available online soon at

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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