Chris Ismil from IRRRB joined the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee during its Aug. 14 meeting to discuss plans for development within Aitkin.

Chamber Director Taylor Erickson is recruiting members for a sub-committee to plan a Tour of Opportunities event in Aitkin this winter. The Tour of Opportunities would expose empty storefronts and other commercial buildings in the area to prospective entrepreneurs and realtors. The idea was originally submitted to Aitkin County’s 2019 Walleye Tank contest. Although not selected, the committee thought it merited pursuit.

Ismil expressed an interest in partnering with potential entrepreneurs to explore IRRRB resources available to upgrade or redevelop such properties. Initially, IRRRB works with developers, and then as the city as a fiscal agent, Ismil explained.

“Cities that understand the team approach are capturing a lot of IRRRB funds,” he said. “They need to have strong Economic Development Authorities with a sense of purpose, where the city and community are working with the developer.”

IRRRB’s Commercial Redevelopment grant program assists communities in demolishing dilapidated commercial or industrial buildings and cleaning up brownfields. Redevelopment of previously used commercial sites contributes to the vitality and economy of the region.

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