- Associated Press - Sunday, April 23, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - An effort has begun to brand an old blue-collar Duluth neighborhood as a collection of like-minded businesses, to not only sell more goods, but to help rebuild the neighborhood with jobs and commerce.

There have been at least 25 commercial real estate transactions in the Lincoln Park Craft District since 2014, Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2pGRUkK ) reported. Seventeen businesses have opened, and more are planned for this summer, including a restaurant, coffee shop and pottery studio.

“The community doesn’t necessarily view Lincoln Park as a place they want to go or spend time in,” said Lars Kuehnow with the Local Support Initiatives Corporation, an economic development group. “They see it as maybe a little bit of a tougher neighborhood, so they’re maybe a little more resistant in that sense.”

The resistance began to erode when Bent Paddle Brewing Company opened a taproom and the longtime proprietor of the highly-successful Duluth Grill opened a popular restaurant called OMC Smokehouse.

The city of Duluth has launched a loan program that provides up to $50,000 in bridge financing to help entrepreneurs rehab old buildings.

Joel Bookman, a Chicago-based consultant advising the Lincoln Park group said the neighborhood is a textbook example of how to do economic development.

“This is economic development at its finest, it’s exporting products around the country, and importing capital into Duluth,” he said.

Hemlocks Leatherworks owner Candace LaCosse said the neighborhood’s grit drew her to the area.

“I like that it doesn’t feel like the rest of Duluth,” LaCosse said. “I like that it feels kind of rough and raw.”


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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