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Koochiching economic development director takes shotgun approach

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Article by MPR

It was a sunny September day outside, but only 1o degrees inside the cold weather testing box near the airport here. The box, a giant walk-in freezer that accommodates nine cars and can sustain a temperature of 40 below, was running because a truck and bus manufacturer from Chicago was due to arrive to test auto parts against the frigid cold.

Cold weather testing is big business in International Falls, drawing between $150,000 and $200,000 annually to a city that has a love/hate relationship with its reputation as the ice box of the nation. “It’s booked through March,” said Koochiching Economic Development Authority Director Paul Nevanen, who oversees the facility, including a second box built last year to accommodate new client UK-based Jaguar Land Rover.

Nevanen remembers unveiling for the Brits the new testing box, which Koochiching County and International Falls built jointly. He’d hired a group of bagpipe players from Ontario, across the Rainy River, to play Rule, Britannia. “They loved it,” he said with a low-key smile.

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