The Iron Range may soon be home to one of the largest solar panel manufacturing facilities in the country

10 Sep 2021


Minnesota lawmakers made headlines earlier this year when they approved a bundle of financial incentives to draw a timber product mill to the city of Cohasset in northern Minnesota.

But the Legislature, along with state and county officials, also threw down cash for another project aimed at economic development in northern Minnesota: The expansion of a plant in Mountain Iron — a city of 2,800 people between Virginia and Hibbing — that manufactures solar panels.

Part of an effort to diversify a regional economy reliant on natural resources like wood and iron ore, the plant — run by Ontario-based Heliene, Inc. — is expected to be the second-largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the country once the new project is done. 

Martin Pochtaruk, Heliene’s president, said the company aims to help the U.S. meet new goals announced by President Joe Biden to produce half the nation’s electricity via solar energy by 2050. “Our product, made in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, is the simplest renewable energy engine to such electrification,” Pochtaruk said Thursday at the new facility’s groundbreaking ceremony.

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