IRTB awards technology mini-grants to regional nonprofits serving visitors

IRON RANGE — With a portion of its Blandin Broadband Community grant, the Iron Range Tourism Bureau has awarded technology mini-grants of $1,500 each to regional nonprofits that serve visitors. Grants were given to:

• Club Mesabi,
• Embarrass Township/
Finnish Homestead Tours,
• Eveleth Heritage Society,
• Hibbing Historical Society
Museum,
• Hibbing Tourist Center,
• Iron Range Historical
Society,
• Camp Vermilion,
• Lyric Center for the Arts,
• Minnesota Museum of
Mining,
• Minnesota Discovery
Center,
• SISU Heritage/Nelimark
Museum, and
• Virginia Area Historical
Society.

“Through the Blandin Broadband grant, we’ve been able to assist our valued partners in tourism, namely organizations that serve visitors and help preserve our area’s history,” said Beth Pierce, executive director of the Iron Range Tourism Bureau. “Ultimately, these grants will impact the visitor experience— whether tourists or locals—in a positive way, and help these nonprofits achieve their own goals.”

As part of the grant process each organization received a technology audit through the Northeast Minnesota Small Business Development Center. The audits helped identify technology needs within each organization, and provided recommendations for how best to use the grants.

Projects recommended for grant funding include the implementation of ecommerce, donation and membership sales to organizations’ websites, the purchase of scanners and software to assist with recordkeeping and document storage, purchase of cloud storage and training, enhancing photo assets, and website updates.

The Blandin Broadband Communities Program is a two-year, intensive partnership with the Blandin Foundation to advance local broadband initiatives. The Iron Range Tourism Bureau is part of the 2019-2020 Iron Range Broadband Communities cohort, and is a nonprofit destination marketing organization that serves the communities of Aurora, Biwabik, Chisholm, Embarrass, Eveleth, Gilbert, Hibbing, Hoyt Lakes, Mountain Iron, Virginia and surrounding townships.

The Northeast Minnesota Small Business Development Center conducted the technology audits as part of ongoing services to the Iron Range and all northern Minnesota communities.

Other Blandin Broadband Communities Program initiatives being undertaken by the Iron Range Tourism Bureau include the creation of a virtual reality mine tour, a talent attraction website, a digital map of arts and artists, and a local “good news” campaign. For more information, contact Pierce at beth@ironrange.org or 218-749-8161.

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