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Beauty is our competitive advantage

Duluth is increasingly recognized as a remarkably beautiful place to live and work. Outside Magazine's recent crowning of Duluth as America's Best Place to Live will fortify our expanding national stature as a destination city.

The nation is discovering what visitors to Duluth have known for decades. In 1986, a book titled "Resettling Duluth" contained an eloquent quote by Gary Coates, who vividly described his first visit to this city:

I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this natural setting, the power, the presence and grandeur of Lake Superior and the ancient hills that frame it to the west. Next, as an architect, I was struck by Duluth's diverse and rich architectural heritage which stands as a living testimony to a long tradition of pride in place and hope for the future. But most of all, I was taken by the way fingers of wilderness still reach down through the fabric of distinctive and beautiful neighborhoods — a garden city woven harmoniously into a fabric of a primal wilderness.

Perspectives like Gary's reaffirm the decision that many of us made to work and live in Duluth. We understand how Duluth's beautiful natural surroundings make it unique and should not be taken for granted. Duluth's natural and architectural beauty is also our distinct competitive advantage as we work to attract and retain community members.

More people choose the company they will work for based upon where that employer is located. The crucial factor separating communities which will flourish from those which will decline is a citizenry that understands the need to offer a high quality of life. The negative aspects of many other cities — increasing traffic congestion, degraded environmental conditions and nondescript downtowns — motivate individuals and families to become part of communities like ours.

Duluth's star is rising. Our elected officials are making decisions that are fortifying our community's attractiveness to prospective employers and to families. Our community is in an ideal position to protect and savor Duluth's breathtaking natural beauty.

Our ancestors have bequeathed to us a long tradition of pride in this place that we call the Zenith City. It is incumbent upon us to carry forward this sense of place and pride. We would be wise to do so while making decisions that will provide the same competitive advantage to future generations of Duluthians.

The Chamber's leadership seeks to partner with other groups and individuals in a unified effort to make wise use of our unique resources. Duluth's rise is our shared success.

David Ross

David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751.