With local energy rates increasing, the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota wondered what it could do to help its member companies survive. “For us, it was not only helping reduce energy waste,” said Lory Fedo, chamber President and CEO. “We are helping people stay in business because they just cannot afford these utility bills.”
After exploring options, Hibbing launched a “Business Energy Retrofit” program in cooperation with the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency. Working together, they established a “one stop shop” for area businesses that include audits and step-by-step programs to help implement efficiency retrofits.
IRRRB has invested $750,000 in the program. Approximately 50 businesses have taken advantage of the mixture of grants and low-cost loans. Another 100 are on a waiting list with the next phase of the program anticipated this spring. “The beauty of the program is that it assists businesses regardless of their size and projects,” Fedo says. “And we get healthier businesses and happy members.”