Solar Factory on the Iron Range

It’s fun to see what’s happening in other parts of Minnesota. MPR reports

Mountain Iron, Minn., bills itself as the “taconite capital of the world.” It’s home to Minntac, the nation’s largest iron ore mine.

Now the town of fewer than 3,000 has something else to boast about: the opening of the state’s only solar panel factory, and the first to open in the U.S. in 2018.

Heliene opened its first solar panel plant in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, eight years ago. Now, it’s investing more than $18 million to get a 25,000 square foot factory up and running on the Iron Range, after another manufacturer abandoned it last year.

President Martin Pochtaruk gets asked all the time, “Why Mountain Iron?” His answer, he said, is always the same.

“Why not? The same question was asked to me when we started a factory in Sault Ste. Marie. It is a place in need of industrial diversification. It’s a place with viable labor.”