ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dick Palmer: Demographics tell the story

There is one thing that always puzzles this writer: Why so many of us keep our blinders on in spite of the changing demographics of this area. Misdirection may be guiding us into a future filled with chuck holes, uncertainty and possible ruin. St...

There is one thing that always puzzles this writer: Why so many of us keep our blinders on in spite of the changing demographics of this area.
Misdirection may be guiding us into a future filled with chuck holes, uncertainty and possible ruin. Strong words, of course, but after years of biting the bullet as a small business person dedicated to feeding a family, making the monthly mortgage payment and looking for opportunities to improve our lifestyle, too often I took one step forward and ended up two steps backward. That has been the plight of too many small businesses for decades.
It didn't seem to have much impact, only memories and coffee talk about the demise of the family owned shoe stores, pharmacies, local clothing stores, etc. Much of this was unavoidable because of changing demographics coupled with the world's competitive position. I miss those small businesses, but that is only part of the issue facing Duluth and the area today. Practically all of our major industries have left for a number of reasons, most again caused by changing demographics.
Duluth cannot be compared to Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis or other manufacturing empires. Unfortunately, many of our past and present political leaders and some union entities have failed to recognize these differences.
We cannot emulate other areas. We have to address survival using our heads. Doing this requires a willingness to take our assets and promote them on their merits.
And when opportunity comes along, we don't throw up automatic self-serving roadblocks before the cards are laid on the table.
We just don't get it. We hold out for more and more and end up getting less and less. Does the word compromise or a new direction mean anything today? The word frustration seems to overshadow reality.
Naturally, there has to be a balance to the makeup of our community. We need green space, we need housing and parking lots, and we need employment to pay the bills. We're leading up to the recent prospects of a sizable Menards expansion in West Duluth. To its credit, the Spirit Valley Citizens' Neighborhood Development Association (SVCNDA) is composed of clear heads, and they are approaching this issue with caution and a genuine understanding of what is on the table.
They want to redo a declining Ramsey neighborhood with a new housing development, and this is a worthy effort, an effort we might add SVCNDA has been successful with in recent years. But, Menards' proposed expansion would produce the largest facility in its chain of 160 stores throughout the Midwest. Menards is not willing to invest for the fun of it. It sees opportunity, is optimistic, and is willing to work with the community. It could be the beginning of a positive expansion for the flat lands of Duluth in contrast to the over-the-hill expansion in recent years.
This, too, represents a possible change in demographics. Anyone interested?
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteeer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at RPalmer341@aol.com .

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.