The Koochiching Economic Development Authority (KEDA) is proposing to construct a rail siding from the Minnesota, Dakota and Western (M D & W) Railway’s Ranier spur through property owned by Wagner Construction to the properties of Bergstrom Wood Products and Keep Enterprises/Rainy Lake Oil on County Highway 332.
This Rail Siding Project would provide service to the Bergstrom and Keep firms giving both businesses the opportunity to have more efficient operations and the opportunity to expand their operations providing additional employment to citizens in the county and city.
The Rail Siding Project would also provide these businesses greater stability as they provide materials and service to their customers including the Boise Paper mill. Further, this new rail siding would provide MD&W Railway with the opportunity to serve these two businesses creating additional work for the railway employees and company.
Such a project therefore has the benefit of providing greater stability and sustainability to four Koochiching County and International Falls businesses, Bergstrom’s, Keep’s/Rainy Lake Oil, MD&W and Boise Paper.
The new siding would cross property presently owned by Wagner Construction and County Highway 332. KEDA will acquire the necessary right-of-way for the rail siding from Wagner Construction, owner of the property, which parallels the MD&W Ranier spur.
This project is the effort of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority with coordination by its Director Paul Nevanen.
“This has been a team effort and the kind of public/private partnership that strengthens the economic base of a community. Gary, Rod and Darin Bergstrom of Bergstrom Wood Products, Larry Keep of Keep Enterprises/Rainy Lake Oil and Dennis and Kalan Wagner of Wagner Construction, Inc., the principals of the businesses involved were essential in putting this project together as well as Darwin Joslyn, General Manager of MD&W and Joe Sutherland, Koochiching County Engineer”, said Nevanen. County Commissioner Wade Pavleck and International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson participated in assisting with the project since its inception, he noted.
“This project makes a great deal of business sense because it offers stability to local and well established businesses”, stated Nevanen, , “and helps them to serve their customers more reliably. This project is all about helping businesses we have in our community today to be stronger tomorrow,” noted Nevanen and is another good example of what can happen when our county and city are working together. “It’s a good investment in our collective futures.”
The Rail Siding Project design is being completed and KEDA will be making application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for assistance with the public portion of the rail siding. County Engineer Joe Sutherland has been working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation on the rail crossing County Highway 332 and potential grant monies for the crossing.
Bergstrom Wood Products and Keep Enterprises/Rainy Lake Oil are prepared to sign letters of intent with KEDA and agreed to continue with constructing the rail siding on their property to serve their businesses. Gary Bergstrom and Larry Keep both see the rail siding project as an opportunity for their businesses to be more sustainable and possibly providing future opportunities to expand and increase employment in the area.