Ironwood Industrial Park – City of Ironwood, Gogebic County
The Ironwood Industrial Park is 160 acres in size (consisting of the original/older section and a newer section to the east of the original) and is roughly 69% occupied. Sizes of lots varies from 1.5 acres to 10 acres, and the price of land per acre is roughly $2,000 average for city-owned lots. The City of Ironwood Community Development has an active and proactive program. The Ironwood Industrial Development Corporation (IIDC) is also very active. Several tenants in the Industrial Park have representatives on the IIDC Board of Directors. The park has an Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption and Personal Property Exemption PA 328.
US Highway 2 is less than 1 mile away, and the Gogebic-Iron County Airport () is located about 6 miles away. No rail is located onsite, but a rail line north of town is not in use and could be used. Utilities for the park include City of Ironwood for water, Gogebic-Iron Wastewater Authority for sanitary sewer, Xcel Energy for natural gas and electric, Charter and AT&T for cable/internet/phone, and Merit Network for fiber.
According to FEMA, the park site is not within any floodplains. The National Wetland Inventory shows that one small area within the park is wetland, however that site is currently developed. No other areas in or around the park contain wetlands. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory provides a listing of rare and endangered species by County. Gogebic County has 39 different plant and animal species listed under the MNFI. Because of the sensitivity of specific locations of these species, the MNFI has created the Biological Rarity Index, which provides a ranking (high, moderate, low) of finding a rare or endangered species in a certain location by Public Land Survey System (PLSS) Sections. The entire Ironwood Industrial park is in an area identified as having a low probability of finding endangered or rare species.
The EPA’s ERMA (Environmental Response Management Application) provides data on sensitive habitats and species. Data for the Ironwood Park does not exist, which draws the conclusion that no sensitive habits are in the area. According to the Michigan DEQ, no sites of environmental contamination (PA201 sites) are present within the park or the immediate area, and no underground storage tanks are currently present.
Population (U.S. Census, 2010): 5,387 (City of Ironwood); 16,427 (Gogebic County)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (Gogebic County – MI BLM, 2014)
% of population high school graduate or higher: 92.3
% of population bachelor degree or higher: 2.0
% of population with a disability: 15.5
% of population that are veterans: 10.8
The Industrial Park falls under City zoning, and is in an Industrial zoning district. Energy generation may be permitted as a conditional accessory use. Structures would have to comply with the building height regulations (max. 50 ft.) and setback regulations (front: 30 ft.; side: 30 ft.; side abutting residential: 100ft) and must be screened from the view of roads and adjacent properties by berms/fencing/landscaping. Some types of generation (biomass; industrial waste heat recapture) may not be possible under the current ordinance, as it states that the production of gas and the “incineration, reduction or dumping of offal or garbage” is a prohibited use. However, prohibiting small-scale generation using these methods is likely not the intent of the zoning ordinance, and a text amendment could be made to clarify this. A site plan is required for all construction in the Industrial district.
The Ironwood Industrial Park is in a good position relative to its energy. Many communities in the U.P. can only hope for such a favorable energy scenario. Ironwood’s affordable energy comes from Xcel. With a large multi-state utility and only a small footprint in Michigan, the Ironwood area reaps the benefits. The small concentrated footprint in Michigan not only produces many customers per mile of line but makes frequent appearances in front of the Michigan Public Service commission uncommon, resulting in stable rates.
Energy Efficiency Retrofits
Opportunities exist for all tenants for incremental improvements in energy efficiency, primarily in lighting. For the large power and energy users, there is no inexpensive method to become more efficient in their operations. RETAP has visited some of the facilities, however feedback from park businesses indicate that in this instance, RETAP was not able provide much assistance.
Not viable for the large energy users due to the size of a solar installation required to make a significant difference in their energy costs. Solar may be of some value to the smaller operations but they are least likely to make a significant invest.
Not a highly viable option because of insufficient space for a wind turbine of sufficient capacity to make a difference.
Geothermal heating and cooling is not implemented by anyone at this time
A couple of companies generate wood waste. At this time the companies prefer to sell their wood waste instead of making the capital investment in new equipment. There seemed to be a Keep It Simple attitude – just concentrate on your core business and do not get involved with new high tech complicated equipment just to save a few dollars.
Industrial Waste Heat Recapture
There are a couple of operations that have excess heat that has no use and is thrown away. We have no solution for this problem. It is a problem – operating air conditioning systems during U.P. winters is fundamentally wrong.