In Appreciation: Al Hodnik long a champion for Duluth

Alan R. Hodnik, Allete chairman, president and CEO, speaks at the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Forward event at the DECC Thursday. Steve Kuchera /
Alan R. Hodnik, Allete chairman, president and CEO, speaks at the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Forward event at the DECC Thursday. Steve Kuchera /

Al Hodnik has been a vivacious champion for Northeastern Minnesota for decades. As colleagues and friends, we’d like to recognize Al’s impressive 40-year career with Minnesota Power and Allete as he prepares for retirement in 2021. Those of us who have had the honor of working alongside Al know that his love for our region runs deep, and driving growth and prosperity has been some of his most important work.

Al understands the evolving economic landscape of Northeastern Minnesota and has always supported economic-development efforts throughout the region. As a student, employee, leader, and public servant, he’s had a hand in shaping our economy at every level over the years.

He was working at (and laid off from) Minnesota Power’s Hoyt Lakes facility during the steel industry’s recession in the 1980s. He led the town of Aurora as mayor through the 1990s and joined the Allete leadership team in the early 2000s, was named president in 2009, and became CEO in 2010.

When it came time to shift Allete from primarily coal to renewables like hydro, solar, and wind power, the company trusted Al’s experience and leadership to navigate a new path forward.

Al is the quintessential humble northern Minnesotan. He earned high-level positions through hard work and perseverance. He leads with courage, passion, and compassion. His belief that the business community must engage with public policy has helped strengthen and grow the region beyond what any one sector could have accomplished alone.


Having lived and worked through several recessions during his career, Al understands diversity is a critical aspect of economic solution. From tourism to manufacturing, industrial to hospitality, every job in every sector is essential to the region’s collective growth.

Al has always fearlessly supported our local mining industry, knowing that clean energy is reliant on responsible mining.

Success isn’t having one or two employers running the show. It’s bred when large and small businesses across sectors all have a place to thrive. Throughout his career, Al stood behind this idea to help drive civic engagement and overall economic growth. As chairman of APEX, and during his tenure on its board of directors, he played an instrumental role in building connections in many respects. His enthusiasm for the region’s workforce and business climate, and his ability to connect from a peer-CEO perspective, were specifically instrumental in the city of Duluth’s recruitment of AAR Corp.

It’s difficult to imagine Allete without Al, but his leadership and vision will continue to influence the company and the region for years to come.

We want to express our appreciation for Al Hodnik’s countless contributions to our community. We wish him all the best as he embraces life’s next chapter.

Lisa Bodine is president and a partner at Giant Voices in Duluth (, Deb DeLuca is executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority (, and Brian W. Hanson is president and CEO of the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion, or APEX ( They wrote this for the News Tribune.

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