HIBBING, Minn. — The taconite mines are back in action, factories are expanding and new stores and restaurants are popping up from Grand Rapids to Silver Bay.
Minnesota’s Iron Range is experiencing an economic revival that seemed unlikely as recently as two years ago, when idled mines and job losses battered the region.
“Obviously the entire economy up here rotates around the mines. So if the mines are doing good, then we all do good,” said Erik Leitz, who with his wife opened the BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire Grill in Hibbing six months ago. A newfound optimism will greet President Donald Trump when he makes his first visit to northern Minnesota on Wednesday.
The Iron Range is Trump country. He won big in 2016 in the Eighth Congressional District, which includes Hibbing and other key mining cities. A Star Tribune Minnesota poll taken in January found that 70 percent of northern Minnesota’s residents approved of the way he was handling the economy and jobs.
On Friday, Trump said he would move forward with tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods — a welcome move for the U.S. iron ore and steel industry — and on Monday threatened another $200 billion in tariffs if China moves forward with retaliatory tariffs. Not long ago, the industry was deeply affected by the dumping of underpriced steel from China and other countries, and the global steel glut that followed.
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