Posted at: 01/23/2013 10:12 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2013 3:15 PM
By: Travis Dill
Several business people mentioned having record years in 2012, and they were all excited about expansions happening in downtown. The highlight was Maurices starting construction on a new office tower in downtown this year.
“Maurices was born in Duluth in 1931, born in the downtown and we plan to say in the downtown,” Maurices President George Goldfarb said.
Over 400 business leaders attended the Greater Downtown Council's annual dinner at the DECC. Many were just as optimistic as Goldfarb.
Tami LaPole Edmunds just opened Art in the Alley downtown. The art boutique is doing so well she's having a grand opening for a second downtown location next week.
“We're thrilled to be downtown. For us it's absolutely booming,” Edumnds said. “There's this whole ambiance and energy reminiscent of being downtown when downtown was alive and vibrant. It's becoming alive and vibrant once again.”
But it's not just retail and the arts. Tourism remains a strong economic driver.
Karen Pionk is the general manager of Sheraton Duluth. She said business and city leaders came together to set Duluth apart from the national downturn.
“We've looked at the whole national trend and said not here, not Duluth,” Pionk said. “So I think we are a success story compared to the national trend.”
So it is a great time to be in business in downtown Duluth, and those companies are looking forward to a strong local economy.
The June flood did cause some businesses to worry that tourism would drop off. But those in attendance on Wednesday said community leaders turned that misfortune into a success. Some even said they had better sales last summer.