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West Superior Street in Duluth is not the same quiet street with vacant storefronts of days gone by. New, creative entrepreneurs have joined long time businesses to invest in and grow Lincoln Park’s Craft Business District, bringing energy and excitement to the entire neighborhood.
Duluth LISC, one of 33 local offices around the country, gives the city access to national programs, funding, and experts, including national economic development consultant Joel Bookman. He has been coming to Duluth periodically to support local efforts to improve the Lincoln Park Craft Business District. He specializes in reviving older downtown and inner city business districts with strategies that help industry to grow and connect residents to new employment opportunities.
Bookman’s most recent visit to Duluth was in July. “Lincoln Park has changed remarkably since my last visit a year ago. You can feel the energy and see dramatic improvements.” He notes families are enjoying Lincoln Park, visiting shops like Duluth Pottery and eating at Love Creamery and OMC Smokehouse. Storefronts that were vacant now are filled and murals adorn buildings. “Entrepreneurs have joined forces to create a fun atmosphere for customers to dine and shop where they live and work.”
Bookman credits the resurgent business district to thoughtful and visionary leadership. Businesses like Frost River, Duluth Grill, and Bent Paddle are collaborating with area nonprofits: Ecolibrium 3, The Entrepreneur Fund, and Lincoln Park Business Group. “It is their energy and engagement – catalyzed by LISC’s strategic seed investments and the City of Duluth’s Advance West Loan Fund -- that are propelling this neighborhood to a better quality of life.” Lincoln Park entrepreneurs are “crafting” desirable items, selling them locally, and exporting them across the country. This in turn is bringing jobs to Lincoln Park along with prosperity that starts and ends in Duluth. To Bookman, it is economic development at its finest.