e-city of the North”
Notes of Mayor Herb W. Bergson, Jr.
January 5, 2004
Transform the perception of Duluth to that of a natural wonderland/destination,
which affords its residents and visitors intuitive, instant, and public
access to any comer of our city and the world; anywhere at any time.
Quickly earn a national reputation of being America's most desirable blend
of a world-class pristine-wilderness-gateway and state of the art e-gateway.
A strongly-led effort could gain national media recognition as "a
first of its kind" initiative. Many high tech CEO's in Duluth believe
a lack of qualified workers is the main barrier to regional economic expansion.
They are correct.
Impressing upon our visitors the duality of our incredible natural beauty/lifestyle
along with the e-campus mentality will communicate that Duluth is the
embodiment of what today's "knowledge" workers seek. This is
the Holy Grail for Duluth's future economic viability outside of the tourist
and taconite mindset.
· Millions of dollars in marketing are spent annually (privately
and publicly) to successfully attract tourists to our city. The budget
dollars are a given. The results are readily apparent and easy to sell
to both taxpayers and those in the accommodations and service industries.
· Efforts to generate economic development are not currently integrated
with tourism recruitment. This is an oversight on our part.
· Duluth is a desirable tourist destination for Twin Cities residents,
but the same cannot be said for Duluth' s perception as a place to locate
(or relocate) a business.
· Our city has an opportunity every day to make an impression as
a "great place to live and work" to visitors, who are clearly
pre-inclined to like our area (they are paying to be here). Any other
strategy wastes half the tourism-marketing budget.
· Very little has been done to market and solicit feedback from
folks who have been here.
Objective: Convert tourists to residents
Create, brand, and deploy a system of wireless internet access points
centered around the Superior Street/Canal Park hub including an e-business
center for travelers located on the main floor of the Tech Village.
· Create a free wireless internet access triangle, bounded by Canal
Park, St Mary's, and the Government Center. The "price" to the
end-user of this "visitor-value-add" must be demographic information
from the tourist. (i.e. free net access and "killer-app information"
for a valid e-mail address)
· Create an intranet/extranet (laid over the public network) for
visitors, which immediately mirrors the current events and special offers
in our area. This will serve as a real-time window to Duluth's activities,
daily events and specials, services, business infrastructure, and government.
· Provide local businesses username-and-password-access to instantly
(dynamically) alter their content on the “e-city of the north”
is not only a sure winner, it is incredibly affordable. Visitors will
be staying at our newly expanded campground at Spirit Mountain during
the day, but dining at a local restaurant in the evening because they
learned of a special event while they were "e-wildernessing."
Violent deaths are at a crisis level in the Twin Ports. Double-digit numbers
of homicides in less than a calendar year are not excusable. We will take
back our streets once again so it is safe for our children and seniors
to do as they please. We will put police officers "in the face"
of criminals. More evidence of our high tech e-city policy will be the
use of a crime/suspect internet site which will culminate the re-birth
of the comatose Crimestoppers program. Witnesses will be able to assume
anonymous identities and give leads to police officers and worry less
about giving up their identities because they will be doing it online.
will pursue opportunities to allow citizens to report minor crimes online
as well, thus freeing up officers to perform more important duties. Paying
parking tickets and fines online won't be the favorite new online activity
of Duluthians, but it will soon be possible. This type of crime reporting
option is already available in Denver, Wichita, San Jose and Minneapolis.
spite of resistance by city administration at all levels, there will be
a Duluth police officer staffing a regional "Financial Crimes Network"
office. Presently, that office is located in Superior, Wisconsin. A full-time
Duluth police officer will be working out of that office with other local
law enforcement agencies, using all the high-tech equipment that has been
available for over a year, but not used nearly as much as it should have
is a new product created with the help of a local vendor. He will gift
the software to the Duluth Police Department. It will be used as a new
alert system to stamp out crimes of identity theft and other frauds. It
is light years ahead of the product I have been using as a detective.
crime on the surface isn't the answer. Strengthening our after-school
activities, especially in the low-income neighborhoods is a must if we
are to see success. We have seen cut after cut to those programs. Most
of those cuts reflect on Minnesota State Government's cuts to Local Government
Aid. They aren't just taking away fun activities from our kids, they are
making street-walkers out of them and those kids are finding undesirable
activities that are not acceptable!
I will create
an endowment fund that uses its annual interest to pay for cultural, educational
and recreational activities for youth that wouldn't otherwise have those
opportunities. I will not be bashful about asking you for help.
It is high time Duluth realizes the value of its natural beauty. It isn't
just about quality of life, it's about big bucks! Everyone who comes to
Duluth falls in love. They either want to live here, or they want to return
often. Let's make it easier for them to stay here.
month, I will send a list of appointees to the city council for the Spirit
Mountain Authority. That board will at long last include someone of Native
American heritage. My challenges to that authority shall be these:
Treat your employees as you would want to be treated.
· Build us a campground that is capable of accepting all types
· Build us a hiking/biking trail that is educational and full of
Native American history. Link that trail with the Willard Munger Trail,
the zoo and the Bayfront.
· Salvage the ski operations and create a revenue stream that never
brings you back to the city council for financial assistance again.
We will also
work with the operators of Indian Point campground to make it an even
better place to stay. We will work to build a water garden and arboretum
at the Bayfront. There will be eco-virtual tours available on the internet,
including such venues as Hawk Ridge, Skyline Drive, Park Point and the
forests of Spirit Mountain.
I have already been active with experts in the field of eco-industry.
We have a hungry team of eco-experts just waiting for the opportunity
to make Duluth the eco-industry hub of the north. We have already been
researching the viability of an eco-industrial park right here in Duluth.
I have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon to discuss the possibility
of locating an eco-industrial park here. In France, $18 billion per year
is realized as a direct result of eco-industry.
that use the waste of other industries to create new, functional products
that result in hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue! It
has happened elsewhere and it can happen here. I have asked Ralph Loomis,
Associate Professor at St. Scholastica College, and Bill Brakken of the
Northland Sustainable Business Alliance to chair an effort to review eco-industrial
opportunities in Duluth. Interest in these industries runs deep and we
will capitalize on it.
Tonight I announce to you the panel of community leaders who will search
for and appoint a new city planner. As I said for the past four months,
this position is important and should be a person who earns the trust
of the community, thereby giving the community a reason to believe in
I thank each
of these individuals for their willingness to serve their community.
Once the new planner is on staff, we will begin the process of trying
to bring the community back together to finally finish its comprehensive
Talking about bringing the region together is easy to say, but another
to really accomplish. It won't be easy. We must check our egos at the
door and see to it we are holding the interests of everyone in our hands
when we make decisions that really do affect us all.
I will attend Duluth Days. I will also attend Superior Days in Madison.
I have asked Superior's mayor to arrange for a meeting between he and
I and the governor. Jim Doyle has been a friend for many years and I know
him as a man who will be very interested in helping find ways to assist
us in our quest to become a single community of success.
as a JOB-Z site is just the start of great things to come. I have already
spoken with two different companies about locating in a Duluth Tax Free
Zone. We'll use HUB designation as a further incentive for creating jobs
in these zones, thus creating opportunities for job growth by creating
products needed by the federal government.
inclusion of the Iron Range in this year's Duluth Days shall be our first
sign to the people on the Range that our days of competing are over. Our
days of fellowship, trust and mutual respect are beginning. I pledge to
offer Range communities a seat on a regional economic development board,
in hopes we can partner like never before.
Recreation and Tourism
I will count on each neighborhood in our city to help us keep our parks
maintained at a level that makes us proud of what we have in Duluth. Resources
will be available when possible, but volunteerism is a necessary factor
to continue to provide our citizens with what they have come to expect.
I will propose
a "flattening" of the debt at the public golf courses, so we
can make long- needed improvements immediately, instead of waiting three
more years. This will not cost taxpayers anything as the improvements
will continue to be paid for by user fees. I will also propose a relocation
of Enger Park's clubhouse to the south, near the cliff, thus attracting
even non-golfers for a glimpse of a breathtaking view over lunch or dinner.
I also promise
to look at ways to generate new revenue for our public golf courses by
being creative. While I have some specific thoughts, I want to discuss
them with the golfing community before ideas are formally presented.
We will attempt
to create attractions in close proximity to the aquarium to create higher
body counts. I am excited with the prospect of a new movie theatre at
the DECC that will bring many more people to the aquarium's doorstep.
I want to ask the Bayfront Visions group to work with the Aquarium Board
to have an arboretum and an aquarium in the same building, thus saving
on amenities such as parking, utilities, staff, retail space and restrooms.
Bring me such a plan and I will help you raise the money to make it happen.
to find a way to fund a covered water park for our kids, without dropping
it on the shoulders of the taxpayers. This will be a water park all children
will be able to use, regardless of their family income level.
One of my very first meetings I have scheduled is with leaders of the
downtown community. Their proposed new Business Improvement District has
my full support. My Christmas list for them is long:
Bring us a renaissance for Old Towne Duluth. Bring excitement, specialty
shops, the arts and culture to us and watch it grow.
· Create a link between downtown and Canal Park / the Bayfront
· Give us weekend events and festivals all summer long that bring
new life and vibrancy to the downtown.
· Help us create downtown housing, thus bringing back a captured
market for the merchants.
· Save the Norshor Theatre.
I pledge to you I will support public funds to be used to match dollars
raised by the new Business Improvement District. I also pledge to work
to great lengths to accomplish all that is asked for by the National Historic
Trust, just another bright spot on Duluth's horizon.
Every effort will be made to settle contracts with existing employees
as soon as possible, but with an attempt to reduce the city's obligation
to future hires. This benefit is no longer affordable for the taxpayers
of Duluth. Continuing to ignore the problem won't make it go away and
we owe it to all Duluthians to deal realistically with this problem.
Councilor Russ Stewart and Realtor Ken Truscott have agreed to co-chair
a committee to review the processes by which our building inspections
office operate. That committee will make recommendations for sweeping
changes to the department and its policies. The committee will be made
up of those people affected most by the policies. This will encourage
future development in Duluth, instead of discouraging it.
This administration will make it absolutely mandatory for developers to
abide by promises made to our community. While I have seen a great deal
of movement by state agencies in the past couple months on the Miller
Hill fiasco, nothing we do today can undo the damage done over the past
16 years of broken promises. This administration will not tolerate "development
at all costs" by any developer. A promise made will be a promise
A formal labor management committee will be formed and meet on a regular
basis. This will help eliminate misunderstandings and allow input from
all employees. Minor problems will be dealt with initially, before they
magnify into large issues.
"52 Pickup" will be the theme slogan used for developing new
and exciting events in Duluth. I want to do all I can to have at least
one major event each week throughout the year by calendar year 2005. We
must do our best to create events that find a home in Duluth, thus guaranteeing
stability and growth. A huge ethnic food, entertainment, culture and educational
event is one I find especially attractive.
Duluth will pursue grants through the "Experience Works" program
to employ senior citizens to oversee a community service program. The
clients in the program will be people sentenced by the local courts for
minor violations and traffic fines. The work will not be pleasant, thus
discouraging repeat performances by offenders. Examples of duties would
be trimming sod from sidewalks, shoveling snow and picking up litter.
The Mayor's "Pet Project"
During the past campaign, I made a pledge that during my term in office,
we would build an animal shelter to allow us to properly care for all
our stray four-legged friends. I will consider this promise to be a priority
on my list of "must do" projects. I plan to meet with Animal
Allies leaders this week to build a plan of action to get this done.
Friday will be my community day. Among other duties, I will visit one
classroom on Fridays. I will also ask the accommodations industry leaders
to choose a tourist for me to take to lunch. This will help me know what
we did right to get them here and what we can do better to help them return.
I will have an hour meeting with a local small business owner to see how
we can help them grow. I plan to ride as a passenger on a DTA bus weekly
to talk with citizens about ideas they have for bettering the city. Staff
meetings will be on Friday. University, School Board and County officials
will be asked to participate at those meetings once a month. I also want
to work with the local universities to develop a regular internship in
the mayor's office.