HIBBING, MN — From working for former Governor Rudy Perpich to taking on the role as President of the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce, Lory Fedo has a long history with the Iron Range.
“It’s just a lot of years,” said Fedo while looking through old photos in her Hibbing office.
She’s been a champion of the mining industry for decades, but now she’s hanging up her hard hat.
“I just love every part of it, every part of it. It’s a big job so just learning every day has been a challenge, but maybe the best challenge.”
For Fedo, that challenge began on day one.
“When I first came to the Iron Range it was during a recession and so for many businesses, it was a little dire.”
So, she got right to work.
“Development, business development, helping shore up the communities, work on mining issues, help small business, that kind of thing and just get through that particular recession.”
She succeeded but her work with the mining industry was just beginning.
“Keeping people employed is like, in my mind, my number one job. Keeping businesses going and people employed. So it is obvious, when you’re in this region, that mining is an important driver in the economy.”
It’s also a controversial issue with copper-nickel mining at the forefront.
“For me, it becomes a challenge and a need to really get down and fight for some of the things we need because you know, with mining sometimes we find ourselves the only voices in the room that are pro-mining and that’s not easy. So somebody’s gotta stand up for the region and the communities. Once one person does, other people do.”
Fedo has been one of those people for nearly three decades.
After a number of boom and busts, Fedo said today the chamber is prepared for anything.
“We do leadership training for emerging leaders, we do a lot of volunteer training as well. I guess those are the things that will sustain you through any economic downturn.”
But for now, Fedo is preparing for life in retirement.
“I’m feeling good! A little anxious,” said Fedo with a laugh.
After years of hard work, Fedo has this message for the future.
“My hope is that we will become satisfied with our lives here, like all of us. Sometimes Iron Rangers are their own worst critics, right? So that’s number one that people are happy with where they are and they become ambassadors for the area and that we continue to build a healthy economy.”
Fedo officially retired on March 31.
She said she has plenty of hobbies and plans on volunteering and spending time with her family.
Vickie Hagberg has taken on the role as President of the Hibbing Chamber.