Construction for a new manufacturing plant will begin later this year on West Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis. When it’s ready for production, the call for workers will read something like this:
Wanted: Northsiders interested in building spaceships and satellites.
Eden Prairie-based aerospace firm ION Corp. and RiverNorth Development Partners announced a partnership to build a plant at the intersection of West Broadway and Washington avenues. The announcement was made at the offices of the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation and attended by several local leaders in government, business and non-profit organizations.
The ION facility, which will be located at 201 W. Broadway Ave. N., will create more than 100 jobs and generate projected revenues as high as $24 million.
Anthony Taylor, managing director of RiverNorth Development Partners, said the ION expansion was borne out of talks among local thought leaders after the police murder of George Floyd.
Taylor said the group wanted to find a way to create a development that focuses on equity by attracting businesses with shared values, businesses that would invest in the Northside and deliver on the promise of good-paying jobs for Northsiders. RiverNorth Develop Partners was formed and The ION facility is its first project.
“We believe this will be a catalyst for our shared aspirations for North Minneapolis to be a vital and thriving community,” said Anthony Taylor, managing director of RiverNorth Development Partners. “We see this as a trajectory toward wealth creation.”
ION Corp. has operated for 37 years, making components for the aviation, defense and space industries. Its founder, Wendell Maddox, is a southsider who grew up boxing and playing football at the Phyllis Wheatley Center.
Not only did he become transfixed by the images of the first man stepping on the moon, he went on to serve on several advisory panels with the man he watched on TV that day in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong. The two became friends.
“I think this is going to be something people will be able to replicate in other minority areas around the country,” Maddox said. “For me, this project represents a love that I’ve had in North Minneapolis since I was a boy. I have been fortunate in business and I now want to give back to the community.”
ION has designed and built components for the James Webb space telescope, the Mars rover and the rockets that will eventually send astronauts toward Mars. Taylor said RiverNorth and ION will work to develop training programs that serve as a pipeline for Northsiders to work for the aerospace company.
Maddox said the annual payroll will be more than $10 million, and the workforce will include engineers and about 70 jobs for aerospace technicians, positions that require a high school diploma. Starting wages will range between $25 and $75 per hour.
The ION facility will be 112,800 square feet of manufacturing and research space. If construction begins this fall, the facility could be up and running by the first quarter of 2025.
“This will result in NASA getting wonderful benefits from the incredible people here on the Northside,” Mayor Jacob Frey said. “This will make a big difference for a whole lot of people.”
David Pierini is the editor of North News, a non-profit monthly newspaper and website serving the residents of North Minneapolis. This story originally appeared in North News on March 10.
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