Chamber president's view: Let’s maximize Duluth’s momentumThanks to the dedication and collaboration of many individuals and organizations, our beloved community has achieved great momentum. Success begets success. Strength attracts strength.
By: David Ross, Duluth News Tribune
Thanks to the dedication and collaboration of many individuals and organizations, our beloved community has achieved great momentum. Success begets success. Strength attracts strength.
Duluth increasingly is heralded as the embodiment of urban renewal and community revitalization. It appears our Zenith City is poised for even greater prosperity in 2014. Duluth has exhibited a resiliency and a leadership capacity that less-successful communities have not been able to replicate. We are emerging from the recent national recession more economically diverse and better-positioned than the vast majority of American cities.
Evidence of Duluth’s strength includes an unemployment rate of
4.7 percent. This is lower than the state average and well below the national average. This is also a remarkable reversal of the unemployment rate Duluth experienced in the 1980s and 1990s.
Another tangible indicator of our community’s vibrancy is Duluth’s home foreclosure rate, which, too, is below the state and national averages.
A solid indication of our community’s enhanced financial health is the recent upgrade of the city of Duluth’s and St. Louis County’s credit ratings. National credit-rating agencies recognized the stellar financial stewardship exhibited by both the city and the county.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recently identified Duluth’s job-growth rate as significantly higher than in other Minnesota cities, including Mankato and St. Cloud. During the next seven years, employment in our region is projected to grow by 13 percent. This is higher than statewide projections.
There is more good news. Local employers are creating more jobs. Our friends in the aviation business are expanding operations. Cirrus is in the process of adding an additional 100 jobs. AAR is adding 40 more jobs to the 250 jobs it provided our community in the past two years.
Manufacturing and engineering are growing as fast as open jobs can be filled. Altec HiLine is adding 80 new jobs. Enbridge is adding 150 new jobs. The Barr Engineering Company and LHB are aggressively adding employees. These are just a few illustrations of how manufacturing and engineering are enjoying a renaissance in our industrial port.
Our brothers and sisters in the construction and building trades also have much to cheer. There are five major construction developments poised to break ground in the next few months:
These construction projects will help keep our local economy humming for the next two years.
With nearly 1,000 new jobs being created in the coming months, there is a critical need for additional housing in our community. The Duluth chamber’s leadership is working with community leaders to coordinate a focused effort to address this need. Local housing developers have an exciting opportunity to meet this housing challenge.
Duluth’s prosperity also is creating a growing need for additional talent. We will need more workers to fill many job openings. Fuse Duluth, the chamber’s young-professionals program, will heighten its efforts to connect college students with the businesses that are in need of additional workers. The chamber will partner with other community leaders to focus on talent recruitment and training. I am confident we will build an increasingly talented and diverse workforce.
As we enter 2014, Duluth is ideally positioned to experience a record year for construction and economic growth. This success is fostered by the private and public partnerships that are moving our community forward. These partnerships have fueled an unprecedented spirit of entrepreneurship and collaboration. They have concurrently increased our collective confidence in our business community.
It is an exciting time to work and live in our Zenith City. Our shining city on the hill has never shined more brightly.
David Ross is president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.