Dec. 19 --The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is expected to approve a $1.94 million loan Friday to the city of Biwabik and Laurentian Monument, Granite & Stone so the countertop and monument company can expand and add 15 jobs. IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich is asking the board to approve the loan as part of the company's proposed $2.84 million expansion project. The company produces granite countertops and monuments and is expanding into other areas of natural stone use, such as structural, architectural, decorative and landscaping. The company has experienced high demand for its unique stones, which are found on former Iron Range mining sites. Funding will be used to construct a new industrial building and purchase a site that will provide stone inventory. The original Monument business dates back to 1912, engraving monuments and cemetery markers and providing other services. Laurentian Countertops has been in production since 2002. The company added a new plant in 2006 and a natural stone division in 2011. The IRRRB is expected to approve taconite tax rebates for ArcelorMittal-Minorca, Magnetation , Mesabi Nugget, Northshore Mining and United Taconite as part of an ongoing effort to encourage reinvestment into the companies' operations on the Iron Range . The companies get part of their production tax back if they match it in upgrading the plants. The board also is expected to approve more than $6.6 million in infrastructure grants to local governments for 33 local construction projects. "By investing in these projects, we are helping provide our local construction workers with well-paying jobs, while upgrading outdated infrastructure and supporting business development," Sertich said in a statement announcing the grant proposal. Sertich noted that IRRRB dollars, stocked with a tax on taconite produced by mining companies, is used in lieu of property taxes on homes and other businesses. State law requires half of the agency's economic development fund to be invested in infrastructure projects in local communities. ___ (c)2013 the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.) Visit the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minn.) at www.duluthnewstribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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