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Head of Hermantown Chamber to step down in January

Mike Lundstrom, executive director with the Hermantown Area of Chamber of Commerce for seven years, is stepping down in January.

“I’m not using the ‘R’ word,” the 62-year-old Lundstrom said last week, referring to retirement. “I am open for the right opportunities. But personally, it’s the right time to leave.”

Ready for a new chapter in his life, he plans to spend more time with family and will continue his work on several community boards including Northern Aero Alliance, Arrowhead Regional Health and Wellness Center and as president of the Duluth Airport Authority.

Lundstrom joined the chamber in 2007. He’ll leave after a productive stint that has seen the chamber’s membership grow by

50 percent and expand its relationships with business and community leaders. More than ever, the chamber now represents businesses in the Miller Hill area, even though much of the mall area is in Duluth.

“We worked hard to be the voice of that community, as well,” Lundstrom said. “It resonated with a lot of those businesses. They needed a representative. Understandably, the power source in the (Duluth) community is downtown, but the (Miller Hill) area is a huge economic driver.”

 Nancy Kastelic, chamber board president, last week publicly thanked Lundstrom for his chamber work.

“Mike has been a tireless supporter of local business, and we are grateful for all he’s done to make our chamber and community a better place,” she said in statement.

Asked about the state of business in Hermantown, Lundstrom said it’s showing positive signs.

“It’s taking a long time to come out of this recession,” he said. “We’re seeing more growth, more jobs, more optimism. And we’re feeling positive about what’s happening. Developers are more willing to make a commitment than they were two years ago.”

But challenges remain. Business loans are still not easy to get, and some owners are hesitant to invest in their businesses, he said.

“Understandably, people who had to make tough decisions to keep their businesses open are cautious coming out of it,” he said.

Lundstrom said a business district being developed by the city of Hermantown through zoning will have a profound impact on the whole community, which still is finding its identity.

The Hermantown Marketplace, as the district would be called, would encourage development and redevelopment in a section of the city stretching south from Miller Trunk Highway to the Maple Grove Road area and west from Haines Road to Westberg Road.

Containing business growth to that area and north along the Miller Trunk corridor will protect residential areas west of the highway, he said.