Duluth in Minnesota Business Magazine

A natural choice: Why Duluth is for many entrepreneurs the perfect place to plant a business

1 Comment


about 9 years ago

Good PR for Duluth and article captured the lifestyle choice of these interesting and admirable entrepreneurs well.

I buy Epicurean products here in England.

In the 80s, Americans recognised Quality of Life and today we've expanded that to include Quality of Place.  But these things are ancillary to tax rates, market proximity, population base, per capita income, skilled and abundant workforce, available professional services, stable and sound governance, crime rates, public services, etc when companies are looking to invest somewhere.

Even Joe Public Professional wants to live somewhere with decent public transit, nightlife, affordable and desirable housing, cultural outlets, recreational fun, clean air and all the basics.  And there are trade-offs.

After the essentials are taken care of, one can afford to emphasize quality of life and quality of place.

I think I get Mayor Ness' message and I concur that Duluth has some unique assets on which to capitalize BUT every playground has its pricetag.

"In the past we used to measure ourselves against Fargo or Sioux Falls and come up short," says Ness. "But those cities aren't us."

So, Duluth can't measure up in the metrics so it bailed out of the rankings?

Personally, I never confused Duluth with Fargo or Sioux Falls thankfully but let's not cavalierly dismiss Duluth's inexorable slide by ignoring the fact that those two cities and many more have left Duluth in the dust.

In 1960 when Duluth's population (excl Superior and metro) was 107,000, it was in the league of cities like Madison pop 126,000.  The cities of Sioux Falls and Fargo had populations of 65,000 and 46,000 respectively.

Today Madison has a population of 240,000.  Sioux Falls pop. 159,000 and Fargo pop. 105,000 have more than doubled their populations, tax bases, gross city products, transformed and diversified their economies and sustain top class healthcare, arts, recreation, infrastructure, etc.
It is unarguable that they prospered and Duluth languished.

This phenomenon cannot be ignored or dismissed nor should it be the perpetual focus.  But as Duluth struggles to pay for schools, street maintenance, police and fire with a shrunken tax base and poverty is widespread the basics need to be addressed.

Everything in Duluth seems to be run on a shoestring and that is a precarious way of life.

I know this is a business booster publication and the mayor's job isn't to talk down his city to the press but Duluth is still, nevertheless, declining relatively.

Entrepreneurial ventures and homegrown businesses are vital to a healthy, diversified economy but Duluth's small size and other factors make this a limiting proposition on which to grow and sustain the city.

What's needed is an injection of inward investment on a large scale with relocation of professionals to seismically shift the economy up a couple notches.

Duluth needs to get 3M, US Bank, Honeywell and some big Minnesota guns to invest there.  

Also, did someone move Asheville to the coast?

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