Opinion of the Speaker of the House: By working together, Duluth can meet company priorities
At the Duluth Region Chamber of Commerce, we are upbeat and optimistic about what the year ahead.
Of course, challenges remain. The pandemic continues to disrupt businesses and our economy. Labor, child care and housing shortages are real. Improving trading conditions and economic development opportunities must be a priority. Advancing equity and inclusion is work that must be continued in perpetuity. And providing shelter to homeless people and connecting those in need with services while keeping our community and businesses safe is a difficult balancing act.
Yet you can feel a palpable energy through the collaborative work that is being done on these issues. Leaders from all sectors have found synergies in working on solutions that will help us reach our greatest era.
Therefore, it seems useful to provide a quick update on the work being done by the chamber on the strategic priorities identified in our 2022 action plan. While this list is not exhaustive, it certainly reveals why we are optimistic.
Business Terms: We have held meetings with the Town of Duluth to discuss opportunities with the building department and the building permit process. These meetings were forward thinking, educational, productive and solution oriented. A big thank you to the mayor and his team for their willingness to get involved. With the demand for economic development in Duluth, it will be very profitable to provide excellent service to those who wish to do business in our area.
Workforce: Collaborative efforts are underway with partners such as Elena Foshay with Workforce Development on programs that target the hospitality industry and others; we hope to be able to deploy a welcome program in the spring. Additional collaborative efforts on pathway programs include working with partners like APEX and the Duluth School District. The chamber also met with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on statewide workforce initiatives.
Duluth Aircraft Maintenance Facility: House Board Chairman Dan Fanning, Brian Hanson of APEX, Tom Werner of Duluth Airport Authority and city leaders led an effort to find temporary and long-term tenants for the installation.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: The Chamber’s programming and events are aligned in 2022 to underscore the business community’s support for this crucial initiative. Additionally, the chamber strives to provide a platform for those who are experts in this space.
Balancing Mental Health Needs and Community Safety: We recently participated in the Stepping on Up Research Tour, moderated by John Cole of Chum, along with other city, county and community leaders. This tour aimed to identify solutions that could be replicated in Duluth to deal with homelessness and housing crises.
Childcare: we are working with many partners in the region to identify elements of action to provide solutions to the crisis of the childcare shortage. These achievable items include addressing the working capital and working capital issues that child care providers face. In addition, we will develop our 2022 legislative strategies on this issue.
Military Affairs Committee: The new chair, Jennifer Cady, has joined the race. Meetings with US Senator Amy Klobuchar and US Representative Pete Stauber identified strategies to support our local military branches, including the 148th Fighter Wing. Other initiatives include support for the STARBASE educational program.
Core Mission: The 2022 Calendar of Events has been intentionally aligned with our strategic priorities. We look forward to seeing you at these events.
We also look forward to engaging with everyone on these strategic priorities. By working together, we can make real progress in meeting our challenges and recognizing our immense opportunities.
Matt Baumgartner is President of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce (duluthchamber.com). He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.