Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Representing You at the Minnesota Legislature
Eighteen years ago, in 1997, a group of approximately fifteen of Duluth's business leaders gathered for the first time to lobby at the Capitol. They did so on behalf of our beloved community. They called this foundational trip to the Capitol - Duluth Days.
They were well-intentioned, sincere and motived to have Duluth's state funding requests heard at the Minnesota Legislature. But, alas, they were also loosely organized, and underfunded. Their visit went largely unnoticed. They lobbied lightly before returning to Duluth empty handed. Yet, these resilient community advocates were resolute in their conviction to continue Duluth Days as an annual initiative.
These are the humble beginnings of what has developed into the most sophisticated and largest annual community lobbying effort at the Capitol. We have come a long way in eighteen years. In many ways, we are the ones those community leaders in 1997 were waiting for. They prepared the way for what is now an expanded, triumphant Duluth and St. Louis County Days at the Capitol Days.
The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce's leadership is proud to have organized and hosted Capitol Days these past eighteen years. We are resolute in our commitment to keep this bold initiative moving forward. It is the longest running community gathering at the Capitol.
In recent years, other communities have attempted to replicate our bold initiative. St. Cloud Days. Bemidji Days. Rochester Days. None come close to matching Duluth and St. Louis County Days in size, in energy, and in effectiveness.
This year, these communities share a heightened challenge. Our historic, monumental, elegant Capitol Building is being refurbished. It is largely barricaded, inaccessible to visitors and to citizen lobbyists.
Consequently, few of these communities even attempted to host events at the Capitol.
In contrast, those of us from Duluth and St. Louis County viewed the Capitol Building's inaccessibility as an ideal opportunity to do something remarkably different. We did something atypical and memorable, which our Minnesota legislators and senators will not soon forget.
On February 25th & 26th, we set up headquarters as close to the Capitol Building as possible, at the Crown Plaza St. Paul Riverfront, and made our presence known. We hosted 475 attendees at our Grand Reception, the evening of February 25th. Sixty-four elected officials and their staff members attended the Reception. This was a record attendance for the eighteen year history of the Grand Reception.
The next morning, we hosted 290 attendees at our Legislative Breakfast. Governor Dayton provided the keynote address. This, too, was a record attendance for our eighteen year history of the Legislative Breakfast.
I share these accomplishments with you not to try to impress you but to impress upon you how you were well represented at the Capitol by your brothers and sisters from beautiful St. Louis County.
We stood, shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity as advocates for our cherished Northland communities. Soon, we will begin preparing for our 2016 Capitol Days. We welcome additional partners in this noble effort - pressing on for the glory of Duluth and St. Louis County.
David Ross, President & CEO
posted by David Ross