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Image: MDI_Sonic Welding Totes Northern MN

Clip: MDI to expand offering, add 75 northern MN jobs over the next decade

New profile extruder for polypropylene at Grand Rapids facility will create material for totes, trays and boxes

Aided by recent grants from the Blandin Foundation, the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, the Otto Bremer Trust and Enbridge, MDI announced that it is purchasing a polypropylene extruder that will be located at its Grand Rapids facility and is projected to come online by the end of 2021. MDI is a nonprofit manufacturer with nearly half its employees made up of people with disabilities.

“This state-of-the-art machine will drastically improve our ability to provide a seamless experience for our customers and solidifies our place as a top provider of plastic containers and packaging solutions,” said MDI President and CEO Peter McDermott. “This investment benefits our customers and furthers our continued mission of providing employment opportunities and services for people with disabilities.”

The extruder will create sheets that MDI will convert into boxes, trays and totes for commercial customers and also allows MDI to sell sheets to other business. MDI currently sources these sheets from other vendors, which extends lead times and presents competitive challenges. With the new extruder, the nonprofit manufacturer will be able to produce up to five million sheets per year and create 75 jobs across northern Minnesota over the next 10 years.

“Our continued support of MDI has brought immeasurable benefits and impact to our community, particularly people with disabilities,” said Tuleah Palmer, president and CEO of Blandin Foundation. “We were excited to be able to support this long-term investment in growth and ultimately, in the people of Grand Rapids.”

MDI received $675,000 from the Blandin Foundation, $250,000 from Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, $75,000 from the Otto Bremer Trust, and $10,000 from Enbridge.  All funds will go towards the cost of the extruder and related infrastructure, which ultimately cost a total of $2.9 million. The extruder is being manufactured in Italy and will be shipped to the Minneapolis Port and trucked to the MDI facility in Grand Rapids. The next several months will be used to reconfigure equipment in the Grand Rapids facility, making room for the extruder and downstream equipment. The project has a nine-month lead time, and MDI expects to have the equipment online and contributing to product sales to customers in late 2021.

“As we tackle an ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, the agency’s investment in MDI supports good, stable jobs and quality employment for people on the Iron Range,” said Mark Phillips, Commissioner of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation.


About MDI

MDI is a trusted Minnesota manufacturer and nonprofit social enterprise with the mission to provide employment opportunities and services for people with disabilities. We create high-quality plastic containers to ship, pack and store products, and offer unparalleled product assembly and packaging services for organizations across the country, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. By offering an inclusive workplace that allows employees to build confidence, independence and purpose, MDI’s work results in dedicated employees and satisfied customers. To learn more, visit

Find out about other Blandin Foundation grants to MDI here.


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