Brooks covers business and the economy for the Duluth News Tribune.
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The Number: 85 That's how many routes Frontier Airlines added last week — a list that does not include Duluth, despite our efforts to attract a route to Arizona. Yet somehow the Denver-based carrier thought Fargo, N.D.; Fresno, Calif.; and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, needed a few new connections. Sheesh.
The road to Island Lake is paved with Filipino food. Gnesen Convenience Store on Rice Lake Road is now home to Nanay's Kitchen, a takeout eatery featuring the flavors of the Southeast Asian island nation. "It's just a taste of home you don't have to go to the Philippines to get," said owner Beth Canete, whose family runs the long-standing convenience store. The rural Northland outpost may seem an unlikely place to pick up a plate of adobo and a few lumpia, but for Canete it's just an extension of what she's made for her kids for years.
As if buying a home weren't stressful enough, the region's rising prices and low inventory are leaving a lot of house hunters out in the rain. "We have a lot of frustrated buyers out there right now. We've seen a lot of tears and a lot of anger," said Tom Henderson, president of the Duluth Area Association of Realtors. "This is going to be the year to sell." In June the area's median home sales price rose nearly 10 percent from last year to $174,500, while the number of homes for sale dropped 9 percent.
Minnesota construction contractors are being asked to hire more women and people of color, the state Department of Human Rights announced Monday. For Northeastern Minnesota counties — St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Carlton, Aitkin, Koochiching and Itasca — the goal is for total time spent on projects to include 9 percent women and 15 percent people of color. That’s up from previous targets of 6 and 5 percent, respectively.
An art gallery and coffee shop are coming to the corner of 23rd Avenue West and Superior Street in Duluth later this summer. “We’re putting a coffee shop and art gallery where the pop-up used to be,” said Michelle LeBeau, executive director at the American Indian Community Housing Organization, which owns the building. AICHO bought the former corner store, which still includes a laundromat and once housed a hair salon, in 2015. A pop-up gallery and other events have been hosted there in the past, but the new venture will be a permanent addition to the growing neighborhood.
After serving Northland industries for the past 45 years, Dick and Millie DeBolt have passed on Twin Ports Testing to a new generation of owners to handle the next 45. A group of seven employees, all 37 or younger, bought the firm at the end of June and intend to build on the foundation the DeBolts provided. "These kids are all professionals," Dick DeBolt said. "They're at the top of their game, and they know what they're doing."
Storefronts change with the seasons some years, and this spring and summer have seen some new arrivals in the downtown business scene. Here's a look at a few recent moves and openings. Solve Entertainment Duluth's first escape room has a new home in a newly refashioned building as Solve Entertainment is now open at 120 E. Superior St. Situated above Blacklist Artisan Ales, the live-action puzzle business is currently offering the "Vanishing Act" mystery game for players to solve in groups of four to six.
The Number: 3 That's the ranking CNBC gave Minnesota in this year's annual "America's Top States for Business" list. Our quality of life and education systems help outweigh a high cost of doing business and cost of living, with the network saying about us: "You get what you pay for." Washington state took first, but having lived and reported on business in the Evergreen State, I find this highly suspect. Then Georgia squeezed by us for second place, which, good for them I guess. But the top three do have one key thing in common — all have a place named Duluth.
When David Dubin visited Duluth in the spring of 2016, he wasn't too impressed with Lincoln Park's commercial district. But when he returned last fall, it was another story. "For some reason it seemed like things were much different. Things were happening," said Dubin, a Chicago developer who recently purchased the Board of Trade building and who has his eyes on property in Lincoln Park.
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church is turning around after congregants unanimously approved plans to restore the fire-damaged Duluth church on Sunday. Stained-glass windows will return, and a new organ will be built in the 110-year-old church that sits on the corner of Sixth Avenue East and Third Street. Plans also call for the sanctuary to be rotated 180 degrees to face the hillside rather than the lake.