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On Wednesday, April 17, Duluth LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) welcomed 335 guests at Forging Opportunities, an annual celebration luncheon at the DECC. The event is held to recognize the people and organizations helping forge communities of choice and opportunity—great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families.
Governor Tim Walz delivered a keynote address and was accompanied by House of Representatives Speaker Melissa Hortman; Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED); and Commissioner Laura Bishop, MN Pollution Control Agency. The audience also was welcomed by Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, having recently returned from the National League of Cities’ Mayor’s Institute on the intersection of housing and health. Duluth LISC Executive Director Pam Kramer attended the Institute as one of five people selected by the Mayor.
LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones from New York City shared perspectives from national LISC and top initiatives such as strengthening the workforce through career pathways and Opportunity Zone legislation, which Duluth has five designated Opportunity Zones for tax-deferred investment.
Pam Kramer, LISC executive director described their work as multi-faceted, “We work as a convener, collaborator, connector and lender to build partnerships and programs that address housing development and preservation, workforce needs, and comprehensive revitalization.
St. Louis County Commissioner and LISC Local Advisory Board Chair Frank Jewell motivated the crowd with his remarks, “For 21 years, LISC has been investing in and supporting housing and community development in Duluth, building the capacity of nonprofits, and leveraging over $90 million in added funding.. These investments, whether in the Hillside’s Steve O’Neil Apartments, the Lincoln Park Craft District, the NorShor Theater, Community Action Duluth’s workforce programs with funding from the CITI Foundation, LISC has provided support in struggling neighborhoods to provide a lift so every child, family or working person can succeed.”
Annually, LISC presents awards to exemplary organizations for their accomplishments in improving Duluth’s Quality of Life by helping people and places prosper. Two 2019 Building Healthy Communities Awards were given to four organizations:
Since 1997, Duluth LISC has invested over $90,709,000, (Almost $6.50 additional funding leveraged for every dollar raised) into Duluth’s economy and neighborhoods, seeding new ideas and building Duluth’s community development industry.
Duluth LISC engages residents, business owners, and other stakeholders in building sustainable communities—starting at the neighborhood level. As part of LISC, a strong national organization whose first name is Local,we bring resources to the community to carry out Duluth LISC’s strategic priorities, which includes the new formation of the Quality of Life Neighborhood Collective (QLNC). The QLNC connects residents with a neighborhood intermediary along with community development leaders and organizations to address measurable outcomes in six areas: housing, health, asset and income, economic development, education and transportation. The powerful new process will advance a shared, collective impact strategy to ensure both people and places prosper. LISC works locally to help convene, fund, build capacity, and collaborate with partners to identify local priorities and leverage resources from LISC’s national network to address them in appropriate ways.