David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751.
- Member for
- 3 years 9 months
Eighteen years ago, in 1997, a group of approximately 20 of Duluth's community leaders gathered at the Minnesota Capitol building in St. Paul. They were there to advocate on behalf of our beloved community. They called this foundational trip "Duluth Days." They were well-intentioned, sincere and motivated. But, alas, they were also loosely organized and underfunded. Their visit to the Capitol went largely unnoticed.
We are one month removed from the recent political candidate campaigns. Our local elections were amplified by the concurrent high-profile campaigns for U.S. Congress and Minnesota governor. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Duluth News Tribune and our friends from the local broadcast community to host the one local debate between U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Mike McFadden. Likewise, we hosted the only local debate between U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, Stewart Mills and Ray Sandman. Moreover, we hosted the one local debate between Gov.
Strengthen. Grow. Lead. Amplify. These are strong and descriptive words which connote what the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce intends to do in 2015. More specifically, we will strengthen our community as a place to live, invest and work. This will be accomplished by growing our members' network, knowledge and success. Additionally, we will lead the business community by advocating on its behalf while serving as the voice of business.
The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce has been an inspired partner within our community's collaborative effort to bring additional housing to our Zenith City. We are highly motivated because we recognize the strong link between attractive housing options and expanded economic opportunity in Duluth. Consequently, the chamber has also been a vigorous participant in a concurrent effort to bring additional jobs and opportunities to our community. Our combined, collaborative efforts have resulted in significant job growth in manufacturing, aviation, higher education, tourism and construction.
It is an ambitious undertaking to schedule and host political candidate debates. The challenge is amplified when the debates involve high-profile, major campaigns for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota governor. It was a challenging endeavor to have the candidate campaign teams agree to a time, venue and format for the debates. I suspect these truths contributed to why there will be only one local debate between Sen. Al Franken and Republican challenger Mike McFadden.
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.
This past year, the Chamber endeavored to serve as a more effective advocate for the business community by more fully understanding the experiences developers encounter when they move projects through the City of Duluth’s Planning & Construction Services Department. We accomplished this goal by interviewing developers who recently submitted and shepherded building and expansion projects through the city’s approval, licensing and inspection processes.
Imagine, for a moment, you are a Duluth city councilor. You have the power to decide how Duluthians will fund our much-needed street improvement plan. The annual price tag is approximately $7 million. You understand that Duluth property owners pay for our city streets. You must decide how to distribute, among these property owners, what will certainly be an unwelcome and unpopular expense. Angry homeowners have been letting you know how upset they are with the potential of paying more taxes, or a fee, for street repairs.
Our shining city on the hill is shining brightly. Construction is beginning on several building projects in our historic downtown. The Maurices headquarters building is underway. Construction will soon begin on the Duluth Transit Authority’s Multimodal Center. These are the largest of the several projects that are being constructed this summer. They combine to represent the largest investment in the history of our downtown. Additionally, Duluthians are working. Duluth has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.
The western half of our beloved city is beginning to receive the attention, affirmation and investment it so richly deserves. Those of us who reside on the west side of our Zenith City understand and appreciate the remarkable beauty available to us all along the scenic St. Louis River Corridor — Duluth’s other shoreline. We are a river city as well as a lake city. In recent decades, Duluth has been abundantly successful at adroitly promoting Duluth as the city on the shores of the greatest of the Great Lakes.