David's Blog

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Help Us Ignite the Fuse

Our young people are a precious community resource - and too many of them are leaving the area. When other communities are the recipients of our highly educated and ambitious family members, our community loses.

This self-defeating situation has gone on far too long. Someone had to do something about it. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce accepted the challenge. The Chamber's young professional initiative, called Fuse Duluth, has evolved over the last three years into a thriving group of individuals who are motivated to attract and retain young people within our beloved Emerald City on the Hill. The word "Fuse" has two meanings: 1) to blend or mix (young people into our business community); and 2) to ignite (young talent's interest in remaining in our Zenith City).

Moreover, the Chamber is reaching beyond our current citizenry to those Duluthians who have sought and found work elsewhere. An encouraging number of those individuals wish to return to this panoramic city they consider "home." The Chamber is working to make their return more likely.

Creating attractive jobs is one way we can retain our young people and facilitate the return of former Duluthians. Yet, creating jobs is no longer enough to meet our goals. We must also determine, embrace and articulate what makes Duluth unique. Doing so will allow us to identify and market what gives Duluth its competitive advantage. Our success in this effort will enable our Port City to attract and retain the best of the generation that is now entering the workforce.

Fortunately for Duluth, a recent national study pertaining to our nation's new economy confirmed that amenities and environmental quality are paramount in attracting talent to a community. "Quality-of-Place" is a new term used to represent the natural, recreational, and lifestyle amenities vital to attracting talent. The report contends that quality of place is as important as traditional economic factors such as jobs and career opportunities.

The Chamber is transitioning with the times. We get it. We are on it. We have come to understand and appreciate that Duluth's competitive advantage is increasingly contingent upon the quality of recreational amenities we offer, safety, clean air and accessibility to clean water for consumption and recreation. How fortunate we are to be on the shores of the Greatest of the Great Lakes. We also understand that our attractiveness as a community will increase as we cultivate our arts and music scenes and as we embrace our increasing diversity.

With this new insight in mind, the Chamber is actively looking to partner with our elected officials and other groups and organizations to make quality of place enhancements and the creation of jobs a combined, Fused, and powerful initiative. We welcome you sharing your ideas and suggestions with us by contacting Breanne DeFoe, director of Fuse Duluth, at bdefoe@duluthchamber.com or 740-3758.These collaborative efforts will allow our Christmas City of the North to protect and enhance the things that make Duluth unique and compelling, including its pool of young talent.

posted by David Ross at

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