Talking with IRRRB Commissioner Ida Rukavina

Duluth, Minn — It’s been just a month and a half since Ida Rukavina was appointed commissioner of the IRRRB. For most of that time, she has been in St. Paul talking with legislators and committees about the IRRRB and its needs.  Rukavina is a name most people in the area will recognize…Ida Rukavina is the new commissioner of the IRRRB and she’s the daughter of Tom Rukavina who was a state representative from the area for 26 years.  Ida says her father set a good example for her and the rest of her family. “He really taught us to work for the betterment of the community that you can always do something more so that’s  kind of what my career path has been tn trying to improve things and help other people, help the region move forward,” said Rukavina.

Before being appointed by the Governor to this position, Ida most recently worked with a similar agency, the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools which is made up of many of the same agencies the IRRRB works on behalf of. “The same cities, towns and schools that wanted to advocate at the state capital for the region so that these communities would get something in return from the ore that’s being mined in this region, said Rukavina.”

The IRRRB does not receive its funding from the state, instead it comes from a production tax that mine companies pay.  There are three main goals that drive the agency: Diversify the economy on the range. Support Education at all levels. Improve the quality of life.

“We advocate for our region. We have to advocate for local government aid for our cities and schools. We advocate for school funding so our children in rural Minnesota can have the same education, you know the best education that can be found. We advocate for Rural Broadband funding so we have different needs sometimes then the rest of the state.”

Taconite mining has been and continues to be, the dominant form of mining on the range. In the future other valuable resources could also be mined.  “There are other opportunities other than taconite mining,” said Rukavina. “There are domestic resources for copper, nickel, cobalt other minerals that are needed for doing everything business in addition to the needs of the future.”

Rukavina says while there ae many different needs on the range, she is confident that with assistance from her staff, she will be able to help the region.  “I think there’s a lot of potential. I wouldn’t do this job and I wouldn’t live here if I didn’t see the potential for our region.” Rukavina continued,”We have a lot of very highly skilled workers, we have a lot of highly educated people and we have a lot of dedicated   people and some would even say Iron Rangers are very passionate people.”

And it’s that Ranger passion that Ida Rukavina brings with her, that will help improve the lives of everyone on the Iron Range.

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