Dayton praises Duluth for 'triumph over adversity'
As he accepted a Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce "person of the year" award, Tom Skull acknowledged the presence of Gov. Mark Dayton at the chamber's annual dinner Thursday night. Skull asked if he was "scouting locations for a Vikings stadium."...
As he accepted a Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce "person of the year" award, Tom Skull acknowledged the presence of Gov. Mark Dayton at the chamber's annual dinner Thursday night. Skull asked if he was "scouting locations for a Vikings stadium."
The crowd of 1,100 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center tittered and then Skull reminded the governor that if he was worried about the team's poor performance ruining their chances for a taxpayer-supported stadium, "they could learn a thing or two from the national champion Bulldogs," the University of Minnesota Duluth football team.
Dayton is well aware of the successes of UMD's football and hockey teams on the national stage, and, in his second visit to the city this month, he also pointed to Duluth successes in bouncing back from a dark time 30 years ago.
He said Duluth is "no stranger to triumphs over adversity" and its "demise was predicted" with the loss of a manufacturing economy that left the city a shell of itself. He said a now-vibrant downtown, Canal Park and other areas show that the city could "not only survive but thrive."
He said big ideas will win the day and mentioned the proposed Northern Lights Express train to Minneapolis as among them. He spoke of too much regulation getting in the way of progress, like the expansion at the Duluth International Airport requiring wrangling with four levels of bureaucracy within one government agency.
"That's not regulation, that's ridiculous," he said to applause.
Dayton hit on themes popular with an audience of people with direct stakes in the economic vitality of the region. Duluth Mayor Don Ness spoke just before Dayton and said the city seems to be at a crossroads "year after year" and he chooses to not be "paralyzed by pessimism" and takes an optimist's look at problems.
Ness spoke directly to the governor saying he no longer worries about competing with other cities in the state for jobs, people and tourism. He wants to go nationwide and, reminding the audience he is a pastor's son, borrowed from the Bible's "Sermon on the Mount" to make his point: "A city set on a hill can not be hidden. We are ready to shine."
Then he asked for an "amen." The audience indulged him.
Dayton said he was in awe of Ness, running unopposed for another term and getting the "amen" from the audience. He also admired Ness' outlook in a "critical" time for the state. He said the "cut-cut-cut" side of the Legislature needs to stop putting burdens on local governments by cutting aid or adding to property taxes. He said the state also needs to put a focus on education. When people tell him the state "can't afford" to invest in education, he says "we can't afford not to," Dayton said.
He said legislators need to help him "make better government for less money" to tackle budget problems.
He said it would be a shame to tell the next generations of Minnesotans that we "knew what to do" by spending on education and infrastructure but chose not to.
He said smarter government and business collaboration are needed to take on challenges. "Now," he said in closing.
Dayton has been on a tour of the state this fall asking groups about how to create jobs in the state. He was at UMD Oct. 7 to listen to local business leaders and the public. The tour culminates in an all-day "jobs summit" Tuesday in St. Paul.
As for that stadium issue, Dayton has set a Nov. 7 deadline for the release of a Vikings stadium construction plan. He has asked the Vikings and others to deliver information he needs to draw up "a more specific proposal."