A former state commissioner of employment and economic development will return to the Cabinet of Gov. Mark Dayton to lead the state agency that's charged with diversifying and improving the economy of Minnesota's Iron Range. 

Mark Phillips was commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in 2011 and 2012. He has previous experience with the agency he'll now lead, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), having served as its director of economic development from 1983 to 1988. He is currently director of business development at Kraus-Anderson Construction Company. 

"The people and businesses of the Iron Range will be well served by Mark's extensive public and private economic development experience," Dayton said in a press release. "I appreciate Mark's willingness to serve Minnesota again." 

The IRRRB provides low or no interest loans, grants and loan guarantees for businesses relocating or expanding in northeastern Minnesota's Iron Range. It also distributes grants to local governments, schools and nonprofits in the area. It's primarily funded by a taconite tax paid by mining companies in lieu of property taxes. Its board is comprised of state senators and representatives from the region. 

Phillips replaces Dayton's first-term IRRRB commissioner, Tony Sertich, a former state House majority leader who left the administration to lead the Duluth-based Northland Foundation. 

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