The IRRRB distributes much of the iron ore production tax revenue paid by northern Minnesota mines, with an eye toward diversifying the Iron Range economy. It’s a state agency, but one with a unique structure, and many outside the Range think of it as an old boys’ fiefdom that hasn’t fulfilled its mission. Mark Phillips, a native Ranger, stepped into this difficult territory a year ago. During Gov. Mark Dayton’s first term, he was commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Rangers and legislators will be watching closely to see what kinds of economic development projects Phillips and the IRRRB support—and how they’ll weather the latest round of tough times in northern Minnesota.