Column: Shining City on the Hill shines more brightly
Two recently announced projects clearly illustrate how Duluth is poised to complete one of America's most remarkable city revitalizations. Earlier this month, we learned that work will soon begin on a $28 million Multimodal Transportation Center ...
Two recently announced projects clearly illustrate how Duluth is poised to complete one of America's most remarkable city revitalizations.
Earlier this month, we learned that work will soon begin on a $28 million Multimodal Transportation Center in our beloved downtown. The building will be located at Third Avenue West on the lower side of Michigan Street. In addition to the new center, the project will include an upgrade of Michigan Street skywalk connections, including the reconstruction of the Northwest Passage connection to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. The center will be paid for with the help of a $16 million federal appropriation, $6 million from the state bonding bill and $5.5 million in local and private investments.
Last week, Duluth Mayor Don Ness announced that Maurices will be the anchor tenant in a fifteen-story, $80 million office tower to be built at Superior Street and Fifth Avenue West. The 425 West Tower will bring new life to the west end of our historic downtown. The tower is made possible by a $60 million private investment by the AtWater Group. This private investment precipitated the State of Minnesota funding the project with $8.5 million from its State Capital Projects Grant. The City of Duluth will match that grant with an additional $8.5 million investment. These two projects will generate the largest and boldest amount of construction to concurrently occur in our downtown.
Yet, there is more good news. Our Duluth Public School District is completing the final two schools involved in its $313 million reinvestment in our school buildings. The construction of Myers-Wilkins Elementary School and the renovation of Congdon Park Elementary School will culminate the building or renovation of the District's eleven remaining schools. Last weekend, hundreds of Duluthians toured the recently opened Lincoln Park Middle School and the Ordean East Middle School. These schools are now a compelling reason to relocate to Duluth and to remain in Duluth.
Couple these recent investments with how well we have diversified our local economy; and we have reason for celebrating. Today, our unemployment rate is consistently better than the state and far better than the nation. Our regional industries are thriving.
We have come a long way since the 1980s, when Duluth had an unemployment rate of 17 percent. Our population had declined by 20,000 over the previous thirty years. Our hardships were heralded to the country when the federal government identified Duluth as one of the ten most distressed cities in the nation.
Duluth's revitalization is a tribute to the resiliency, tenacity and ingenuity of Duluthians. We repeatedly survive the storms generated by the greatest of the Great Lakes. And, we survive the economic storms that have blown through Duluth over the past thirty years.
Duluth is positioned well for prosperity. Maurices understands this truth. AtWater believes it to be true. Leaders from higher education, manufacturing, tourism, construction and health care are experiencing this truth.
It is increasingly apparent to our community members that our Shining City on the Hill is shining more brightly. It is a light being seen from far greater distances. It will attract individuals, families and businesses that are wise enough to become members of this remarkable community.
David Ross is the president and CEO of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at 740-3751 or firstname.lastname@example.org .