Nice to meet you, "The Memo" reader! I am now in my fourth week of living and working in the Twin Ports as the News Tribune's new business and health industry reporter. Getting to know a new community is always a big challenge, but doing so while working remotely in a pandemic is on a whole other level.

Luckily for me, I’ve already found myself to be surrounded by so many helpful resources. Between my co-workers at the newspaper and some very kind community members who have helped point me in the right directions, I’m slowly but surely getting acquainted with the area and its happenings.

There are quite a few resources available right now for people and businesses in the community, as well. I’ll help you out by sharing a few — if you promise to help me out by sending me your best business story tips as you come across them. I want to write about what people really care about!

It’s tax season, again

You’ve probably started to get your 2020 W-2s and other necessary tax forms sent to you. Community Action Duluth is offering free tax preparation to individuals and families making less than $57,000 a year. IRS-certified volunteers will be available through the main tax season until April 15, as well as afterward until Aug. 13.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Visit www.communityactionduluth.org/tax-site-virtual to sign up for a virtual session, or pick up a packet at Community Action Duluth, 2424 W. Fifth St. #102, Duluth, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Go to communityactionduluth.org/tax-site-drop-off for a list of the required tax information and documents. Contact taxes@communityactionduluth.org or call 218-726-1665 with questions.

Grants available for small business relief

St. Louis County has received $3.8 million from the state of Minnesota to provide the third phase of economic relief to eligible businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The application period is open until Feb. 3. Businesses and nonprofits must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible:

1. Physically located in St. Louis County;

2. Have no current tax liens on record with the Secretary of State at the time of application; and

3. Impacted by a Minnesota Executive Order related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, visit http://bit.ly/3phxdax.

Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit available

I sat in on a panel discussion Thursday about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, hosted by the Duluth Chamber and Careerforce. Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, discussed the ways in which Duluth can be a welcoming community and retain a more diverse workforce.

Webinar attendees were asked to rank the amount of experience they felt their organization had with incorporating diversity and inclusion. Most people responded they felt there was some experience there, but no one responded that their organization was an "expert." This shows that there is room for improvement for all.

The event was a kickoff event for the debut of the Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit for Action, a guide to help employers throughout the hiring and retention process.

Regional development commission seeks public input

The Arrowhead Regional Development Commission is launching its engagement process for an update to the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The CEDS covers the seven counties of Northeast Minnesota and seeks a unified vision for its economic development. Completion of an updated CEDS every five years is critical for the region’s ability to secure federal funding.

The engagement process will take place over at least 20 sessions conducted via Zoom. For a complete schedule and registration information, visit surveymonkey.com/r/CEDSRegistration. Participation is open to all who live or work in the seven counties and requires registration.

Laura Butterbrodt covers health and business for the Duluth News Tribune. Contact her at 218-723-5320 or lbutterbrodt@duluthnews.com.