Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.
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The Number: 0 That's how many injuries Duluth's Verso paper mill recorded in all of 2018 among its 200-plus employees. For perspective, about 2.5 out out every 100 paper manufacturing workers in the U.S. had a recordable injury or illness in 2017, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And because now you're undoubtedly curious, the highest rate for any profession that year was... nursing and residential care facilities, where one in 10 workers recorded an injury or illness, followed closely by motor home manufacturing and skiing facilities.
The billion-dollar private investment coming to Duluth's medical district could be getting a multi-million-dollar public boost. State Sen. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, is introducing a bill on Thursday that would invest $164 million in state money and $20 million from Duluth toward infrastructure throughout the dozens of blocks surrounding the city's hospitals. That's on top of the $800 million Essentia Health is investing in its Vision Northland project and the $200 million St. Luke's expects to spend on its own campus upgrades.
The Number: 280,865 That's how many passengers flew through the Duluth International Airport in 2018, a chunky 13 percent increase from 2017. DLH noted the rise had a role in landing American Airlines, with airport boss Tom Werner saying that more "passenger demand helps us add carriers and routes." So keep flying local and maybe we'll get a Denver flight — or catch that Arizona connection that was such a big focus not that long ago.
Forgive the cliche, but there really is no better way to put this: It's like Uber, but for snow removal. SnoHub connects plows and shovels with the people who need them through a smartphone app that looks and feels much like ridesharing apps. Pick a location, pick the services, see the price and order away. "We're happy to introduce our app to the folks of Duluth," SnoHub CEO James Albis said as the unrelenting snow continued to blanket the Twin Ports on Thursday. "Because of the intensity of the snow, it's very important for us to be there."
Just a quick glance at the charts will tell you 2018 was an exceptional year for real estate in the Northland. Median home sale price? New record high. New listings and closed sales? Most since 2005. Days on the market and available inventory? Lowest in years. "I think the data speaks for itself — we found that we were as busy as we've ever been in 2018," said Steve McConnell, president of the Lake Superior Area Realtors board. It probably won't slow down much as more buyers compete for a limited number of homes.
Allete Inc. is selling one of its subsidiaries to a Japanese company for $270 million. Tokyo-based Kurita Water Industries Ltd. is set to buy U.S. Water Services, pending regulatory approval, in a move that could boost spending on Allete's renewable energy projects. "Kurita is a well-respected global enterprise, and this agreement is a win-win for Allete and U.S. Water Services," Allete Chief Financial Officer Bob Adams said in a news release. "Proceeds from the sale will be primarily reinvested in growth initiatives at both our (utilities) and Allete Clean Energy."
The Number: $185,000
If I were to write a book about this endeavor, I'd call it "This Is Extremely Frustrating And I Will Never Stop Trying." It's a working title. This month I decided to make a difficult and rewarding sport even more difficult and rewarding by learning how to tie flies.
Lawmakers have poured hundreds of bills into the hopper as Minnesota's legislative session heads toward week five. While Northland legislators have sponsored a number of bills with statewide impact — on elder care, education and opioids, among other topics — here's a look at some of the Duluth-centric bills that have been introduced so far: Duluth sales tax increase — House File 183, Senate File 119 It's take two for a half-percent sales tax increase Duluth voters resoundingly approved in 2017.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed off on the execution of 38 Dakota men in Mankato following the U.S.-Dakota War. It remains the largest mass hanging in U.S. history. So, when a billboard of Lincoln with the phrase "Humility" appeared on West Second Street just outside Duluth's American Indian Community Housing Organization, it was not received well by some.