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rewrite this title Grand Rapids project combines art, business and education – Duluth News Tribune


Sep 5, 2023

The Forge is a collaborative and educational hub in Grand Rapids, catering to artists, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, and business leaders. Located at 1201 SE Seventh Ave, it offers a range of resources including floor, power, and manufacturing tools, large-scale metalworking and welding equipment, and art and painting resources. The Forge aims to address the needs of the rural community by providing designated areas for trade and technical education, business incubators, community artists, training, and room rentals. It also offers free business planning, financial planning, and marketing services through on-site Small Business Development Center consultants.

The project is unique in that it combines these diverse components under one roof, making it an entirely new concept. The former manufacturing space has been transformed into The Forge to better serve the community’s needs and workforce demands. With a partnership with the Minnesota North College’s engineering department and the Next Career Pathways high school programs, The Forge also provides opportunities for students to gain experience in trades and manufacturing. The addition of 200 jobs by nearby manufacturer Yanmar makes the timing of The Forge crucial for preparing the future workforce.

Funding for renovations, equipment, operations, and programming for The Forge has reached $2.3 million. Grants and other funding streams have been secured from federal and state sources, with a focus on keeping the money local. The architectural and design services were provided by Hibbing-based ARI Engineering, and local subcontractors from Itasca County were contracted for the project. Currently, work is underway in Forge North, which offers a range of operational equipment and classroom spaces. Soon, the incubator spaces in Forge South will be completed, providing affordable leasing options for entrepreneurs and access to equipment.

The Forge also serves as a maker space for nontraditional artists, with a 700-square-foot area available for those working with woods or metals. Plans for the future include offering community classes and hosting innovative meetings in partnership with May Mobility. Construction on The Forge is expected to conclude in the fall, and it will continue to evolve as a training center and a hub for innovation in the community.

By Editor

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