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Duluth Chamber launches new nonprofit foundation to benefit business community

Daniel Fanning has been hired to lead the policy and foundation efforts.

Man in suit
Daniel Fanning has joined the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce team as vice president of strategy and policy and as the executive director of the newly formed Duluth Area Chamber Foundation.
Contributed / Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce
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DULUTH — The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday the launch of its new foundation.

After conducting research, hiring third-party attorneys, as well as a strategic planning, human resources, professional accounting and finance consultants, the chamber determined it could best serve its members, businesses and community with a foundation.

The chamber hired Daniel Fanning as executive director of the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation, where he will focus on raising funds and directing them to initiatives where the chamber can have the most impact. Fanning served as vice president of advancement and external relations at Lake Superior College in Duluth since 2017.

"The foundation allows the Duluth Chamber to have the 501(c)3 fundraising arm like many other larger and active chambers have already," Fanning said. "This opens the door for more state and federal grants, private donations and other funding, which can be funneled through the Chamber Foundation," Fanning said.

Foundation funds may be used to help support local businesses and the community with things like workforce development and recruitment, potential housing projects, equity and inclusion work and research, he explained.


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"It gives us the potential to do more work around downtown safety, and other key initiatives that our business community is clearly asking for," Fanning added. "There have certainly been several recurring themes, including the need for more housing and childcare options, workforce development and recruitment, improving downtown safety, and business and economic development."

Some businesses have shown interest in setting up workforce scholarships, but have indicated they don’t have the time or ability to administer a scholarship program.

Donors have the ability to designate funds to certain initiatives and causes, or donate to the general account.

Fanning will also assume role as vice president of strategy and policy, to oversee policy and advocacy efforts through the chamber.

Fanning earned a Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a combat veteran with several years of military experience and decorated leadership.

During his time at LSC, the Lake Superior College Foundation doubled its endowment, and more than doubled the amount it distributed to students annually, Fanning said.

"The LSCF experienced a record year in fundraising in fiscal year 2022, primarily by working with local employers who are seeking workforce, who partnered with LSC/LSCF to provide new scholarships and other incentives to attract potential employees. We also saw several of the largest contributions in the history of the organization last year, largely to help high-demand career fields including nursing, manufacturing, aviation and similar fields," Fanning said.

Before that, Fanning served as director of communications, marketing and government relations at the University of Wisconsin-Superior from 2015-2017 and was the communications and policy director for the city of Duluth from 2012-2015. Two years prior, Fanning was the deputy state director and northeast Minnesota regional outreach representative for U.S. Sen. Al Franken.


"His experience in legislative advocacy, public policy, public relations and building relationships, coupled with a formal education in leadership, makes Daniel the ideal fit to grow our influence at city hall, the state capitol and beyond," Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Baumgartner said in a recent blog post.

Chamber members and non-members are invited to learn more about the mission and vision of the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation at the "Let’s Do Lunch Duluth" event Nov. 8 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Greysolon by Black Woods, 231 E. Superior St. Register at duluthchamber.com .

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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