A closer look at Duluth BizPac's "business friendly" mission - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

A closer look at Duluth BizPac's "business friendly" mission

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A recently formed political action committee, called Duluth BizPac, aims to create a more business-friendly Duluth.

The group is largely made up of area business owners and funded by donations.

Leaders of the group say several recently passed ordinances within the city are not business friendly and they aim to change that. 

"Duluth is not perceived as a business-friendly community, and that's what we want to change, and that is going to mean some city councilors are not going to get our support," said Rob Stenberg, the president of Duluth BizPac. 

Stenberg says, with cash on hand, they are prepared to start funneling money to help, what he calls "more business-friendly candidates" get elected for city council, mayor and county commissioner. 

"We're going to do it in a positive way, and we're going to be a positive change agent for the city of Duluth," said Stenberg. "What we're trying to say, from the Duluth BizPac is, 'We're not going to get into the name calling, we're not going to get into personalities, we're going to support those initiatives that are business friendly for the city of Duluth, we're going to oppose those that are not business friendly, and we're going to do it in a respectful manner," he said. 

Stenberg says recently passed ordinances like Earned Safe and Sick time, restrictions on flavored tobacco sales, and those surrounding homeless people have hurt business.

"We've got members in the real estate area, who have said, 'I was talking to a manufacturer who are looking to come to Duluth, they heard about ESST,' they called me, said 'we're no longer considering Duluth because of that,'" said Stenberg. 

A former Duluth city councilor, Stenberg says the city has been perceived as not being business friendly for years.

Current City Council president Noah Hobbs disagrees.

"We have the 1200 fund to help businesses start up, we have the entrepreneur fund, we've got a lot of different resources to help businesses start up. We just saw AAR expand, we've got a worker shortage, so I don't think the numbers reflect that," said Hobbs. 

Stenberg says there has been little communication with the business community surrounding recently passed ordinances like ESST.

He wants to change that.

Stenberg said, "We want to see better transparency, we want to see more focus being given being to being a business-friendly community." 

"This group has not asked for any dialogue with the city council," said Hobbs, "To my knowledge, they've sent two e-mails, one basically demanding that we haven't listened to the business community - but I have met with The Chamber, the Greater Downtown Council, I've reached out to any business owner that has sent me an email. So I think this group is largely trying to get legs where there are none," he said. 

Stenberg wouldn't say whether there were specific elected officials the group had taken exception too and says they look forward to an open line of communication with all regarding the future of business. 

He also wouldn't say specifically how much money they had on hand but said it was more than $10,000, but less than $50,000.

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