ISO Duluth | by Shelley Jones

Duluth Superior Street.jpg

Do you know someone out there who is in search of a new city to call home?  Many cities across the country are looking to attract professionals who will establish themselves, their families, and their skills right within their city limits.

If Duluth were a single person wanting to attract just the right person, Duluth’s personal ad might look something like this:  ISO cool vibes, music lover, culturally interested—must love theater, ballet, symphony as much as you love a really great beer and local music.  Must be active!  Avid runner, hiker, biker? Yes, please. Enjoy dining out and taking long walks along the shore.  Work hard, play harder.  Are you out there?

Just like companies look for candidates that will fit well into their culture, people look for cities and cultures that fit well with them.  Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t.  But, I’ll tell you that I’m a little biased about this particular cultural fit.  Duluth has run away with headlines, TV spots, and magazine feature stories in the last several years when people are talking about the next “it” place.

But, seriously, for a minute:  cities thrive when there’s a good match made between people living there and what’s available to them.  Like any good relationship, there has to be enough in common to make you want to stay and work hard at it. 

Duluth works hard at its part in the relationship.  Cities with culture and creativity contribute to higher economic growth, especially for cities with low-income people.  The size of a city doesn’t determine its performance, either.  Duluth’s numbers of artists of all kinds is outsized per capita than many larger cities.

Access to the arts and diverse culture define the livability of our cities.  Smart cities take advantage of promoting their cultures to attract the right partners, so to speak—retaining and nurturing creative workforces and dynamic personalities that ultimately contribute to the life of their city.

Our downtown is thriving.  That’s been said so many times by so many and it’s well deserved.  But, is it a match for you?  Our music, our restaurants, our striving entrepreneurs, our coffee, our trails, our lake, and our symphony, theater, and performing arts culture are accessible and welcome, treasured benefits for people who work hard and play harder.  There are few places with a bustling downtown business corridor where, in just moments, you can walk onto a scene like the Lakewalk, where all the stress melts away with a lake breeze.

Not only does the city have so much to offer culturally and naturally, but there’s a supportive business community here where people from all business backgrounds can be valuable resources for those just starting out and for those looking for advice on expanding or even for those expanding their business here from other locations.  In many ways, Duluth is that city with real small-town appeal and relationships.  Organizations like the Greater Downtown Council are valuable resources for everyone in our business district here.  Make sure you have a great support system when you start a relationship with your new city.

All of this makes a match if I ever saw one.  It’s why you should want to work here, play here, thrive here.  Duluth is that city you’ve been dreaming about. 

If you’re ISO amazing opportunities and a relationship with room to grow long into the future, hey, I’ve got just the right place for you.

Shelley Jones, of Jones Group of Duluth, is a commercial real estate broker based in Duluth and is a board member of the Greater Downtown Council.

Downtown: In the Middle of it All by Shelley Jones

I call all of downtown my office.  It's not just a clever slogan.  When I drive around downtown, as part of my commercial properties brokerage business, I have the privilege of holding listings in Wells Fargo Center, the News Tribune building along with many others within the downtown area.  

If you take the time to walk around downtown, you can't help but feel a new vital energy that's been building steadily over the last several years.  New restaurants and spots for local bands are opening.  On the east end of Superior Street, business owners and artists have forged partnerships and created our new, branded Historic Arts District, HART.  Our new Transportation Center shows our commitment to a future of mass transit and managing city growth in ways that look to the future. On the west end of Superior Street, the new maurices building has claimed its place on the Duluth skyline, joining buildings of industry that have created the city's profile for more than a century.

Our downtown corridor is also a place of constant renewal.  Development envisioned by the city and by others made it possible, for example, for Blacklist Artisan Ales to open up their taproom in the former Last Place on Earth space—transforming the character and vibe of the entire block.  These changes keep development dynamic and forward-thinking.

What's happening is more than just a feeling.  The numbers are real and exciting, too.  In the last several years, the city's population has grown, especially in the demographic representing 25-34 year olds. That demographic includes families, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals looking for work.  I'm encouraged by the growth--not just because it benefits my role as a networker and facilitator in helping entrepreneurs and businesses find the ideal spaces in our commercial real estate market.  I'm also encouraged because I'm a mom to college and teenaged kids and my husband and I have made Duluth our home for some time now, taking full advantage of everything the city has to offer our family. 

Our city is experiencing real commercial growth, with people taking more chances on starting their own small businesses.  Established businesses are growing smartly, taking advantage of the skilled workforce that also continues to flourish.  And families are putting down roots.  Those families and professionals are spending money downtown.  They're ethically and financially invested in bike lanes and revitalization.  They're lovers of art and nightlife.

It’s a great time to be a commercial broker with downtown listings.  The views are unparalleled in the city.  The business community is so supportive when it comes to new tenants.  The draw of great food, great entertainment, and the arts brings people downtown and keeps them there day or night.   When it comes down to considering the whole picture for placing a business, all of these things come into play.

As I drive around this city I call my office, I'm more encouraged than ever before about city growth, with our downtown being the epicenter and vital nexus of that growth.  I'm excited to put entrepreneurs in the middle of it all.  I feel a new energy as I take my place with others on the Greater Downtown Council board.  And, ultimately, I know that all of these pieces fit together in my family life as Duluth takes its place as a true destination for life.  And for business!  Let's get moving!

Shelley Jones is the founder and broker of Jones Group of Duluth.  She is also a board member of the Greater Downtown Council