Local MN Chamber Keeps the Iron Range “Heartbeat” Strong

With a deep knowledge of her community, marketing and public policy, Lory Fedo has for 24 years successfully led the Chamber of Commerce in Hibbing, Minnesota, a regional center of government, health care, professional services and education surrounded by some of the world’s largest iron mines.

In fact, Fedo and the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce describe their hometown as the “heartbeat of Minnesota’s Iron Range,” the arrow-shaped northeastern corner of Minnesota. More than 75,000 people live within a 60-minute drive to Hibbing, which is also the town where singer-songwriter Bob Dylan grew up in the 1950s.

Fedo is an integral part of keeping that heartbeat going. In recent years, she has introduced a variety of programs at her chamber, ranging from Good to Grow, launched in 2014 to promote new economic development, to Business Energy Retrofit, an energy efficiency program that has already raised millions for the Hibbing area.

Ask Fedo what she most enjoys about her job and she quickly responds, “creating meaningful programs and not being afraid to try out a variety of things.”

Having begun her career in the Office of to the Governor, Fedo maintains a deep interest in public policy. She has had the opportunity to meet at least four Presidents of the United States and just last month, partnered with the Minneapolis Regional and Saint Paul Area chambers to cohost a luncheon to discuss the state’s leadership in clean energy innovation and economic development.

Fedo developed a keen interest in energy in 2008, after the national recession hit her community hard and utility rates skyrocketed. Concerned about the impact from utility rates on the smaller businesses that comprise most of her membership, she convened a group of members to work on energy issues.

After fully exploring their options, the chamber developed and launched their own program in partnership with the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. Business Energy Retrofit is a one-stop shop approach to support efficiency retrofits.

In just three years, it has raised $3.6 million for the Hibbing Area, and Fedo plans to grow and expand the program in the year ahead.

For Fedo, the chamber’s energy work is just another part of keeping the heartbeat of the Hibbing community healthy.