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Biomass project fuels partnership

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A partnership between Northern Bulk (part of the Gardewine Group) and the Rainy Lake Tribal Development Corp. was formed following last year’s announcement that a biomass fuel boiler would be built in Fort Frances by AbitibiBowater.

The two companies, which formed the new business Rainy Lake Logistics, came together to help meet the rising demand for biomass fuel product.

“We thought this would be a good opportunity for a viable, long-term business that will sustain into the future,” noted Tony Marinaro, economic development advisor with Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services here.

“We want to develop local infrastructure,” added Darin Downey, director of operations with Gardewine. “We saw it as a great opportunity to develop this into something successful for years to come.”

The main purpose of Rainy Lake Logistics is transportation that caters to the forest industry, and the new company is finalizing terms of the contract with AbitibiBowater to haul the biomass fuel to the boiler.

Area residents can expect to see activity from Rainy Lake Logistics soon, including a new shop building, compound, trucks, and trailers.

The shop building will be located on Couchiching, and about 10-12 trucks are expected to be a part of the operation. There will be ample employment opportunities for drivers, mechanics, and owner/operators.

They hope to begin hauling in the fall, though Marinaro conceded they are at the mercy of what’s going on in the forest industry.

“The hardships in the forestry industry have been a challenge,” he noted. “But we’re looking forward to getting things rolling. It’ll be a positive thing for everyone.”

Following the Rainy Lake Tribal Development Corp.’s economic impact study, Marinaro said the group wanted to develop partnerships in order to generate opportunities for area residents.

The partnership with Gardewine seemed to serve that purpose.

“With AbitibiBowater making a large investment in the biomass project, which is good for the whole district, it made sense to invest in something like this,” he stressed.

“Our objective is to create a long-term, viable business entity that will sustain into the future and grow with the community and economy,” echoed Downey.

Richard Bruyere, executive director of Pwi-Di-Goo-Zing Ne-Yaa-Zhing Advisory Services, said they are excited about the partnership.

“Gardewine is a strong, reputable company and we’re thankful they were willing to partner with us,” he remarked.

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