SnoBear USA celebrates grand opening in Isanti

Test drives were given of the recreational vehicles. Pictured from left are Melissa Bettendorf with North 65 Chamber of Commerce, Isanti City Council Member Dan Collison with son Coen, Isanti Mayor George Wimmer, Ken Vnoucek with SnoBear, Kylle Jordan with Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and State Rep. Brian Johnson.
Test drives were given of the recreational vehicles. Pictured from left are Melissa Bettendorf with North 65 Chamber of
Commerce, Isanti City Council Member Dan Collison with son Coen, Isanti Mayor George Wimmer, Ken Vnoucek with SnoBear, Kylle Jordan with Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and State Rep. Brian Johnson.

The city of Isanti and SnoBear USA celebrated the partnership that led to the relocation of the SnoBear headquarters and production facility from North Dakota to Isanti during a grand opening celebration held June 21.

SnoBear, located at 1 Enterprise Ave. NE, produces recreational ice fishing vehicles. The design allows for ice fishing in a T-shirt at 40 degrees below zero in total comfort, according to the SnoBear website. For added safety, the tracks distribute the weight of the vehicle to less than 1 pound per square inch, company information said. Combined with the unique track design, the Acralift System allows the machine to raise and lower 12 inches.

SnoBear also offers industrial models adaptable for search and rescue squads, commercial oil field and electrical work, sightseeing tours, patrols and other remote winter travel applications for businesses and government agencies. SnoBear also has a 9-acre piece of land in Isanti for testing newly produced vehicles.

“It wasn’t a quick decision in settling on Isanti,” said Ron Balzer, CEO and president of SnoBear USA. “We had been looking for a new location for about one year and a half. We looked at some cities in North Dakota and some in Minnesota. We wanted to move our company to the right facility where we can grow and have an area for testing our machines.”

Mario Nozzarella, executive vice president of SnoBear, thanked all the involved parties for their efforts.

“We would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us,” Nozzarella said. “We would like to thank Isanti Mayor George Wimmer, Isanti Economic Development Director Sean Sullivan and everyone else here today.”

Wimmer is excited SnoBear has opened its doors in Isanti.

“This is so good for the city of Isanti on so many levels,” said Isanti Mayor George Wimmer. “Ron (Balzer) and Mario (Nozzarella) have brought a fantastic company into our city. It’s really neat to be able to tell people about their product, where they are going with their products, and it’s also useful for the branding and marketing of our city. This really means so much to us.”

The entire SnoBear initiative included the purchase of a 42,000-square-foot building in Isanti’s growing industrial park, as well as construction of a new 12,000-square-foot building on adjacent real estate. Balzer noted SnoBear has hired some employees already and will be hiring of maximum of 40 employees, mostly from the Isanti area, he added.

“This investment in our city improves our tax base and offers good paying jobs to our residents,” Wimmer said. “We’ve had so many great things happen in our city this past year and we are excited SnoBear can be a part of that.”

Wimmer mentioned the city of Isanti won its second business recruitment award in January 2016 given through the Economic Development Association of Minnesota for its recruitment of SnoBear.

“This really has been a partnership with SnoBear and I would like to thank Ron (Balzer) and Mario (Nozzarella) for working with us,” Wimmer said. “It has been a true partnership.”

Wimmer also credited the efforts of Sullivan for the relocation of SnoBear.

“Sean (Sullivan) was able to bring everyone together, including representatives from Minnesota Employment and Economic Development, to provide a lot of differing options for SnoBear,” Wimmer said. “Sean is really a rock star for us and does a fantastic job for us. He continues to push us in ways and helps us grow in many different ways. Sean is very critical to our success.”

The city of Isanti supported the Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund applications and agreed to contribute land, including a 4.86-acre and 1.97-acre parcel as well as a 9-acre piece of land for testing newly produced vehicles for the SnoBear project. In addition, the city approved a loan from the Minnesota Investment City Revolving Loan Fund.

Sullivan said it was a team effort to get the SnoBear deal accomplished.

“We met with Mario (Nozzarella) and we were able to bring some people to the table to help make a deal possible,” Sullivan said. “They were looking to buy a facility and also build a new facility. With the two different state programs and the city participation, we were able to work with the state and map out a path for SnoBear to look at and see if we would work for them. Coordinating all the state funding and local funding took a lot of work.”

Wimmer noted SnoBear had local financing provided through Community Pride Bank and is also supporting other businesses in the community.

“They are using vendors every day that we have right here in our city,” Wimmer said. “They are truly helping to build our overall community.”

For more information on SnoBear, visit www.snobearusa.com.