During the economic woes of the 1980s when NRRI was established, major northern Minnesota industries — taconite mining and wood products — were a primary focus for research attention. But it was also apparent that entrepreneurs and small businesses needed assistance of a very different kind.
"Things like marketing help, guidance in writing a business plan and help with financing, along with product development and process improvements," explained Mike Lalich who served as NRRI’s director for 30 years. "That’s why we established the NRRI Business Group."
Then, as now, small businesses deliver big economic impact, accounting for 60 – 80 percent of all U.S. jobs. NRRI continues to do product research and development for small businesses, but early on they realized that the UMD Center for Economic Development, Northeast Minnesota’s Small Business Development Center, could also provide even more entrepreneurial assistance. The NRRI Business Group was formed as a joint program of NRRI and the Center for Economic Development.
Weberg has tremendous enthusiasm for NRRI’s unique mission of sustainable natural resource management and economic development for resilient communities. And that enthusiasm is reaching out across the University of Minnesota, the state, even the globe
Duluth-Superior Harbor, at the most pristine end of the Great Lakes, is the freshwater port most heavily invaded with non-native species. It’s easy to understand why. Duluth- Superior is often the last stop on international routes and ballast water from all over the globe gets emptied there so ships can reload.
Brian Brashaw recalls being under a wooden bridge years ago and seeing the cross beam squish down about four inches when a big gravel truck passed over it. You couldn’t tell from the outside, but the inside of that important bridge beam was rotted. Therein — literally — lies the problem.