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Aki Development Opens LED Plant In Cass Lake, Minnesota

Aki Development, a tribally-chartered corporation on the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Reservation, is opening an LED assembly and testing facility in Cass Lake, Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Aki recently purchased a 60 percent stake in Saga Solar – a St. Paul-based solar photovoltaic panel manufacturer – and moved the operation to Cass Lake.

As an incentive, the LED lighting assembly and testing startup was awarded a $29,000 job-training grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grant was awarded under DEED’s Job Training Incentive Program, which provides funding to help new or expanding businesses in Greater Minnesota train workers.

With the help of the DEED funding, the company will work with the Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake to develop classes that will teach the new workers how to manufacture and install photovoltaic panels.

“Aki is a groundbreaking company that will be the country’s first solar manufacturer on tribal lands,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. “The company is making an investment in clean technology and new jobs that will help grow the economy in the Cass Lake area.”

“Minnesota’s clean energy industry supports more than 54,000 jobs and is expected to add 2,300 new jobs this year,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Strategic partnerships between state government and innovative companies like Aki show how renewable energy can drive innovation and economic opportunity in every corner of Minnesota.”

The Job Training Incentive Program, which was created by the Minnesota Legislature last year, provides training grants of up to $100,000 to new or expanding businesses. Businesses must match the training grants on a 1-to-1 basis and create at least three new jobs.

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