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Group gives $500,000 for Duluth neighborhood projects

On Monday, nonprofit leaders gathered at Central Hillside Community Center to celebrate a $500,000 grant that Duluth nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. received to improve five neighborhoods in the city.

On Monday, nonprofit leaders gathered at Central Hillside Community Center to celebrate a $500,000 grant that Duluth nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp. received to improve five neighborhoods in the city.

The gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will pay for projects in Duluth that make the area a better place to live and work, supporters said. Those projects range from shrinking the number of families in poverty to a facade improvement program in West Duluth.

Duluth has a track record of implementing good ideas, said Polly Talen, program director of the Minnesota branch of the Knight Foundation. That's why it opted to give the corporation $500,000.

"We have confidence our investments will be very well spent," Talen said.

The neighborhood improvement projects LISC will be working on are part of an initiative called "Creating Neighborhoods That Work -- At Home in Duluth." The effort targets the Central and East hillsides, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park and West Duluth.

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"There's a number of ways this is going to help us move forward," said Pam Kramer, executive director of Duluth LISC.

Officials hope it will spur developers, business owners and residents to invest more money in improving homes and businesses in these neighborhoods. Talen said the goal is to motivate more people to move to Duluth, open businesses here and improve their homes, which ultimately can improve the economic health of the region.

The grant also will allow LISC to add a fourth member to its staff, Kramer said.

Mayor Don Ness said during the news conference that as much as the grant money symbolizes a better future, it also is evidence that residents' behind-the-scenes work to improve the community aren't in vain.

"What we're seeing here is the fruits of those labors," Ness said.

 

PATRICK GARMOE can be reached at (218) 723-5229 or pgarmoe@duluthnews.com . He blogs at www.Areavoices.com/buzz .

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