There is an exciting and tangible sense of revitalization in Duluth today. We have come a long way from the days of dim prospects and dire projections. Our unemployment numbers are low, our economic development partners are making key and strategic decisions and we have made huge progress in transforming our city into a diverse and successful regional hub. We have accomplished much under the direction of strong, progressive leaders who recognized the opportunities of building relationships on behalf of Duluth. We have proved that labor and business can and do work together for the benefit of all. We have proved that jobs and the environment can be both protected and advanced at the same time. And we as a community have come together with a powerful message of not settling for less.
Can we do even better? Absolutely. Now is a time to continue to break down silos of thinking and planning. When the day comes that the school district and city government work in tandem, that will be cause for success. Or the point when county government works with local leaders to promote a true countywide policy for improvement and success.
Yes, we must recognize the autonomy of individual elected bodies and appointed leaders. But we must recognize that all we have accomplished in Duluth is because there was a united effort that believed in change for the better.
Yes, the U.S. Steel plant closed and Duluth was devastated. But we didn't give up. We persevered and worked hard to change the face of our city and our region. We realized that our city is more than an industrial hub; it's a gem. And look where we are today. Congratulations, Duluth, you are on a path to success and you are doing it together by focusing on what is important and critical to our growth.
And as a state lawmaker, I, too, hope to continue that focus. I have listened to what is important to my district and my constituents. They want jobs, fair pay, opportunities to own or occupy decent housing, a sense of community they can be proud of, access to transportation, education, health care and a voice on their behalf. As a member in the House minority, that is my priority.
I have already passed a bill through the House Property Tax Division that will allow new monies collected from the revitalized food and beverage tax to be spent in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Kudos to Mayor Don Ness and the City Council for recognizing the need to include this area in the broader plan to revitalize western Duluth.
We can do more ... but we must work together and focus on key strategic plans on behalf of all. There is so much more that can be done, and we must strive to get it right.
Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, is the Minnesota state representative for District 7B.