Duluth’s Greatest Advantage and Greatest Challenge


Each workday, the Chamber team embarks on a singular goal: to serve our 1,100 members. This endeavor places us on the frontline of advocating for our members. We pay close attention to how employers are treated by our local elected officials.

Our advocacy enables us to understand the importance of engaging citizens in a candid communication regarding the challenge of doing business in our Zenith City. We must determine how to most sufficiently support local businesses while concurrently funding local government services.

If we do this well, we will position our shining city for future success. Additionally, we simultaneously will lessen an emerging threat to employers.

Duluth enjoys a treasured location. We greatly benefit by being situated on the shores of our nation’s most inland port. This is our community’s greatest advantage.

The Duluth / Superior Port is an ideally located transportation hub. The ease with which goods and services can be transferred within our port provides local businesses a competitive edge.

It is incumbent upon us to wisely invest in our port. We cannot take for granted the roads, railroads and shipping lanes that connect our port. The Chamber’s leadership encourages elected officials to provide unwavering support our industrial port.

Additionally, we need our elected officials to address an emerging threat. The health of our local employers is being compromised by the amplifying burden of state and local taxes. In 2017, Minnesota ranking 17th in the nation in sales taxes.

Additionally, Duluth charges the highest sales tax in Minnesota. This is an unfortunate distinction. This is our community’s greatest challenge.

Even more concerning is how this cost of doing business in Duluth appears to be on a steady rise. The appraised, taxable value of commercial and industrial properties is aggressively being increased. In 2018, City, County and School District taxes will increase more than the rate of inflation.

I am not advocating that there be no new taxes. To do so is not realistic, or even beneficial. Duluth is remarkable, in part, because our citizenry has decided to wisely invest in such important essentials as our parks, our schools, and our water supply.

Yet, it is imperative that our elected officials understand and appreciate the challenge of doing business in such a highly taxed environment. Hopefully, they will not burden employers with unnecessary city mandates that arbitrarily add to the already onerous cost of doing business in our fair city.

Avoiding these city mandates will allow local employers to invest more in their businesses, in their employees, and in our beloved port city.

In support,


David Ross, President & CEO