Blog Downtown Greater Council

Transformational Year Ahead for Downtown Duluth

January 9, 2019

We are optimistic about a transformational year ahead of us in Downtown Duluth.  There is much excitement with growth, development and the pursuit of renewing the Special Service District. Read more from Kristi Stokes as reported for the DNT:

 

Greater Downtown Council President’s View

 

We are embarking on a year of historic change for downtown Duluth. That may sound like a grand statement, but the reality is we have several exciting projects that will forever change the landscape and skyline of our central business district.

 

When the Superior Street reconstruction project got underway earlier this year, we thought that was a transformational time for the core of our community. After all, crews were digging up and replacing infrastructure that dated back to the 1880s. Plus, we were revitalizing our main street, something that had not occurred since the mid-1980s. Now that the first phase of the project is complete, we know it has reenergized our district. Businesses can show a sense of pride in their surroundings. We no longer need to apologize for heaving bricks, broken bollards, rusting receptacles, and missing benches — at least in the first phase of construction. It is hoped this investment will further spark additional growth and investment by our business and property owners.

 

As we move into phase two of the Superior Street reconstruction, we have so many more transformational projects in the pipeline. We are not just looking down at what is taking place under Superior Street, we are looking up at the unprecedented development that will be occurring above the street, particularly in the Medical District.

 

In 2019, Essentia Health expects to break ground on the largest private investment in Duluth’s history. The $800 million project, spanning four years, includes a new hospital tower, clinic, and outpatient surgery center, as well as related infrastructure. It actually reduces Essentia’s overall footprint and opens up sites for additional development.

 

Meanwhile, St. Luke’s also is pursuing an expansion in the Medical District. At $300 million, the St. Luke’s project is slated to begin next year as well and span a 10-year timeframe. It includes such improvements as tripling the capacity of the emergency department, expanding the capacity of the cardiac cath labs, rebuilding a parking ramp, expanding outpatient services, and adding an inpatient tower.

 

This shows such a strong commitment from our stakeholders, and the projects will have a tremendous positive impact on our downtown neighborhood. Both of the medical facilities are hopeful they can be a catalyst for additional growth and development in the area.

 

It hasn’t taken long for that to happen. A 204-unit residential highrise already is proposed at 333 E. Superior St. This promises to be a home run for our community and our downtown. It would bring needed housing to our district and further assist with the recruitment and retention of employees in the Medical District and beyond. Plus, it is to include street-level retail space, which we hope will be filled by an urban market.

 

Just one of these projects would make me feel optimistic about the future of our downtown. But to have four occurring simultaneously would be unprecedented for our downtown.

 

To put it into perspective, we have seen nearly $1 billion of private investment in the Duluth Downtown Waterfront District over the last 12 years. Now, more than $1 billion will be brought into our district with these projects alone — and they are all slated to start in 2019.

 

It will mean strong demand for our construction trades. It shows a commitment to patient care. It shows a commitment to the community and housing. And it puts us on a path to a very bright future.

 

 

 

 

Kristi Stokes is president of the Greater Downtown Council in Duluth. She can be reached at (218) 727-8549 or kstokes@downtownduluth.com. She wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.

Minnesota Minimum Wage Increase

December 12, 2018

The following is a blog written by new GDC member Audacity HR

Thank you Stacy Johnston!

Minnesota Minimum Wage Increase

Heads Up, GDC Employers!

The New Year brings a promise of fresh starts and new beginnings. This January, it also brings an increase to the Minnesota minimum wage. GDC employers, be prepared to stay in compliance in 2019!

The current Minnesota minimum wage for a large employer is $9.65 and $7.87 for a small employer. What is the difference between a small and large employer in Minnesota? A large employer is defined as any enterprise with an annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more; a small employer is any enterprise with annual gross revenue of less than $500,000.

Minnesota's minimum-wage rates will be adjusted for inflation January 1, 2019, to $9.86 an hour for large employers and $8.04 an hour for other state minimum wages (small employer, training wage and youth wage).

This table shows the current minimum wage
and the adjustment starting 1.1.19:

HR thought leader, Stacy Johnston of Audacity HR, provides innovative human resource solutions with a mission to support organizations in understanding and engaging their biggest competitive advantage… their employees! Johnston is a licensed attorney and holds the SHRM-CP and PHR credentials. She is on the Board at the Lake Superior Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and a member of the Northland Human Resource Association (NHRA) and the National Speakers Association (NSA).

Experiencing Transformation First Hand... Northland Special Events.

November 6, 2018

Experiencing Transformation First Hand….Northland Special Events by Mariah McKechnie

We vividly remember that day back in April when the Superior Street reconstruction project started its epic transformation process. It wasn’t the loud clanging or the ground shaking that caught our attention most, but rather the street lamps as the cranes lowered them to the ground, loaded them on trucks and drove them away. The changes to come truly resonated in that moment. Over the past 6 months at Northland Special Events, located at 314 & 324 W. Superior Street, our front row seat to the daily transformations of road construction had us thinking about the transformations we undertake every single week…

On a weekly basis, we transform blank spaces into beautiful, personalized environments designed to invoke celebration, joy, and memory making. Sometimes those spaces start out stunning - like The Greysolon Ballroom, for example. Of course, we've seen the incredible ballroom in hundreds of different color palettes and configurations, but let's face it, without a stitch of anything extra that place is drop dead gorgeous.

Now, the Curl Mesabi Curling Club in Eveleth? That takes miracle workers. Earlier this summer, we accepted the challenge to transform the enormous, concrete and metal box into a fairytale wedding venue for a phenomenal couple, Kristina & Derek. I'm proud to say, I think we nailed it!

Before:

After:

Photo Credit - One:One Creative

So what did it take to make their dreams come true and transform the space?

1,500 sq. feet of drapery

5 Crystal Chandeliers

300 Gold Damask Chair Covers

75 table linens

3 Scissor lifts

96 hours of NSE power

300 feet of steel cord

True grit and determination.

And then we take it all down…one piece at a time - lowered, folded, packed up and transported back to our offices to be cleaned and prepped for next week’s scheduled transformations. We leave the venue just as we found it and we move on to our next location. We have this process down like a well-oiled machine, just like those we have seen daily on Superior Street.

The process of transformation truly has no end, just a new day, new location, and new medium. A mantra we commonly use at NSE is “Progress = Happiness” and the transformations we inspire and carry out in our world bring us and our clients tremendous happiness through their progress. No doubt, as we watched the new street lamps hoisted into their new homes while construction workers finished our new sidewalk, we couldn't help but be overjoyed and full of happiness!

Northland Special Events offers event planning, design, décor and floral services for events of all shapes and sizes throughout the region. Visit our website at www.northlandspecialevents.com or give us a call at (218) 499-9449 to discuss your next special event transformation!

Belle Aventure Salon Grand Opening

September 13, 2018

 

 

 

 

Now open in the Holiday Center - Belle Salon! They are a full service Salon with Experienced Stylists coming from the former Younkers Salon. They offer a relaxing, luxurious and upscale environment for all of our guests every time.

From Therese, owner of Belle Aventure: "I had owned a Salon back in the late 90's, early 2000 down in Iowa that was located in the heart of downtown. I enjoyed the collaboration that the downtown merchants had. Everyone worked together to promote each other and take care of one another. My hope is to experience that again here in downtown Duluth. We have been open a little over 3 weeks now and am excited on the reception and support we have experienced."

"Our clients LOVE our new Salon!!!!"

Services we offer include:

  • Specialized Hair Color that includes Balayage, Ombre and Fashion
  • All over Haircolor, Highlights, Custom Grey Blending
  • Blow Outs
  • Formal Styles
  • Makeup (application and lessons)
  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Texture

Grand Opening Specials we are currently running:

  • Blow outs: $25
  • Men's Haircuts: $20
  • Manicures w/ Gel Polish $35
  • Spa Pedicures $45

Call Therese Spehar at 218-260-4200 for your next appointment!

Duluth's Blue Cross Blue Shield Retail Center

June 1, 2018

Duluth's Blue Cross Blue Shield Retail Center

Located in the lower corner of the maurices building on Superior Street is the BlueCross Blue Shield Duluth Retail Center. It’s an open, bright area with so much to offer! Here’s some Q&A about the retail center:

What can I do at a Blue Cross retail center? You can get help with enrollment in health plans. If you already have a health plan, a retail center associate will provide personalized face-to-face customer service. There is also FREE parking in the attached ramp.

I’m already a BCBS member, why should I go to the retail center? Learn about transitioning to Medicare at a workshop. Participate in a health or wellness class. Get answers to questions, such as: What’s in my contract? How do I set up a member account online? What if my family changes or I need to make plan changes? How do I check claim status?

What if I’m not a BCBS member? We’ll help you understand what health insurance is and how it works. We can review the plan options available to you. You can enroll in a health plan onsite. You can attend a workshop explaining Medicare. You can participate in a health or wellness class. You can learn about Blue Cross and our commitment to consumers and the community.

How do I sign up for the classes held at the Blue Cross retail center? Attend an onsite educational and wellness class or check out other services to support your efforts to stay healthy. Topics include Medicare, managing diabetes, health screenings, fitness for seniors and more. Classes are typically held during the week, mid-morning, early afternoon and early evening. Walk-ins are welcome, but class registration is encouraged so you can be notified of a change or cancellation. For a list of classes and events go to www.bluecrossmn.com/center/Home/ClassEvent

Should I make an appointment? You can drop in, but it is best to book an appointment with a retail center associate ahead of time. The retail center is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. However, hours from October 1 through January 31 are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Our phone number is 218-529-9199.

If I don’t live near the retail center, where can I go for information about health insurance? View information online about Medicare plans or individual plans or you can also try our new, pilot face-to-face online sales service if you are looking to purchase a health plan.

Upcoming Events

Kathryn Derbis Art Reception: May 18th 4-7 pm

Dementia Friendly Living: Lunch and Learn: May 23rd 11 am-1 pm

Nutrition Series from Chef RDN-Diabetes Basics: June 15th 10-11 am

Federal Employee Session: June 28th 10-11:30 am

Duluth Youth Creative Challenge (DYCC)-Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota recognizes that mental health is a very important part of overall health. By fostering productive and proactive habits of creative expression at an early age; we can help the overall well-being of the Northland’s youth as they traverse the journey into adulthood.

Blue Cross Duluth Retail Center is excited to sponsor the 2nd annual DYCC. Art created by youths age 5-16 will be on display at Blue Cross’s Downtown Duluth location from 7/9-8/31. The artwork will be judged by a panel of professional and impartial local artists. The overall winner will be unveiled Saturday August 11th at 10:00 AM. This event will foster individual creative expression through different forms of art. DYCC participants will be asked to create a great unique piece of art within one of the six themes; Fairy Tales, Great Outdoors, Heroes, Out of Place, Being Healthy, and Through a Window. Submission Dates: Ages 5-7 July 9th, Ages 8-10 July 16th, Ages 11-13 July 23rd. Ages 14-16 July 30th. Anyone interested in Duluth Youth Creative Challenge can contact Tammy Kausch @ 218-529-9199 or Tammyrae.kausch@bluecrossmn.com

Toasty's Bent Paddle French Onion Soup

March 1, 2018

Yummy!! Watch Chef Tom Hagen make Toasty's Bent Paddle French Onion Soup. Featuring Duluth's own Bent Paddle Black Ale

Toasty's is located at 220 W. Superior St. in Downtown Duluth and is participating in Eat Downtown - Duluth Restaurant Week March 5-10

Make your lunch plans now

 

Calling Duluth Home

February 20, 2018

Calling Duluth Home

by Sara Cole, President and CEO of Duluth Family YMCA

I’m new here. I have come to understand that I should not say that too often or too loudly (or maybe at all), but I think it may be evident in the confused look that I often wear while trying to determine in which direction I should walk through the skywalk downtown or when I am verifying the correct way to pronounce “Cloquet.” I arrived here with my car full of boxes (and a dog and cat) just in time for the late-October snow storm, proud to join the amazing team of staff and volunteers at the Duluth Area Family YMCA.

These days, I drive down into Duluth each morning and feel lucky to see the stunning vista of Lake Superior unfurl before me. I find myself an eager Midwesterner, one who has already told more than one person that the air “just feels cleaner here.” And one who has come to think of 30 degrees as relatively warm. I already have a favorite dish at a local restaurant, a preferred local coffee shop, and a set of snow tires. I have even managed to learn which city streets give me the best chance of making it safely downtown on the snowiest of days. But I have only been here for 115 days; Duluth still has much more to teach me.

In the months before I moved here, I was lucky enough to speak with a number of generous Duluthians who spoke of their city with such love and with such exuberant passion that I could not help but fall under its spell even before I had ever been here in person. Their stories varied—some of them had lived here their entire lives, some had grown up here and moved away only to come back, and some had found themselves here, initially for a year or two, but ultimately felt as though they never wanted to leave. Regardless of the details of their individual journeys to Duluth, each person claimed Duluth as their own and never wanted to leave.

I cannot claim Duluth as my birthright. In fact, I have called a number of cities home. What I can claim unequivocally is my joy in learning the nuances of a new city, in discovering the character in its local lore, in reveling in its holiday traditions. I am an eager student, and love each new fact and piece of locale lore I gather. With each passing day, the topography of Duluth’s stories and its history come more fully into view for me. My infatuation with Duluth’s smallest details is a bit like the heady, early days of falling in love, when even the most complex nuance seems charming and you find yourself rhapsodizing about all that makes your beloved so unique.

I’ve been collecting all the recommendations so generously showered on me. I am going to do my best to check out every scenic overlook, hike every trail, and visit every park; I am going to watch the big ships come in, turn out for the annual Christmas parade, and cheer for UMD hockey. I’m going to go ice fishing and maybe even eat some lutefisk. I am going to work as hard as I can to understand how I can be of service to Duluth, and how the YMCA can continue being a trusted and valuable resource for all members our community. Most of all, I am going to keep reaching out, asking questions, and admitting that yes, I am new here. And I have a lot to learn. But what a gift to ask and be answered. What a gift to have come so far and find myself at home.

A City We All Love to Call Home

February 7, 2018

Do you know someone out there who is in search of a new city to call home? Many cities across the country are looking to attract professionals who will establish themselves, their families, and their skills right within their city limits.

If Duluth were a single person wanting to attract just the right person, Duluth’s personal ad might look something like this: ISO cool vibes, music lover, culturally interested—must love theater, ballet, symphony as much as you love a really great beer and local music. Must be active! Avid runner, hiker, biker? Yes, please. Enjoy dining out and taking long walks along the shore. Work hard, play harder. Are you out there?

Just like companies look for candidates that will fit well into their culture, people look for cities and cultures that fit well with them. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn't. But, I’ll tell you that I’m a little biased about this particular cultural fit. Duluth has run away with headlines, TV spots, and magazine feature stories in the last several years when people are talking about the next “it” place.

But, seriously, for a minute: cities thrive when there’s a good match made between people living there and what’s available to them. Like any good relationship, there has to be enough in common to make you want to stay and work hard at it.

Duluth works hard at its part in the relationship. Cities with culture and creativity contribute to higher economic growth, especially for cities with low-income people. The size of a city doesn’t determine its performance, either. Duluth’s number of artists of all kinds is outsized per capita than many larger cities.

Access to the arts and diverse culture define the livability of our cities. Smart cities take advantage of promoting their culture to attract the right partners, so to speak—retaining and nurturing creative workforces and dynamic personalities that ultimately contribute to the life of their city.

Our downtown is thriving. That’s been said so many times by so many and it’s well deserved. But, is it a match for you? Our music, restaurants, entrepreneurs, coffee, trails, lake, symphony, theater, and performing arts culture are accessible and welcome. These are treasured benefits for people who work hard and play harder. There are few places with a bustling downtown business corridor where, in just moments, you can walk onto a scene like the Lakewalk, where all the stress melts away with a lake breeze.

Not only does the city have so much to offer culturally and naturally, but there’s a supportive business community here where people from all business backgrounds can be valuable resources for those just starting out and for those looking for advice on expanding or even for those expanding their business here from other locations. In many ways, Duluth is that city with real small-town appeal and relationships. Organizations like the Greater Downtown Council are valuable resources for everyone in our business district here. Make sure you have a great support system when you start a relationship with your new city.

All of this makes a match if I ever saw one. It’s why you should want to work here, play here, thrive here. Duluth is that city you’ve been dreaming about.

If you’re ISO amazing opportunities and a relationship with room to grow long into the future, hey, I’ve got just the right place for you.

Shelley Jones, of Jones Group of Duluth, is a commercial real estate broker based in Duluth and is a board member of the Greater Downtown Council.