Last week I had the opportunity to go to St. Cloud Minnesota for work. I have been to St. Cloud many times before but this time was different for me. As I continue to grow more and more passionate about Duluth’s growth and expansion for the future, this time while in St. Cloud I took some mental notes.
Let’s compare on the surface Duluth and St. Cloud.
- St. Cloud is only 90 miles away from Minneapolis & Duluth is 120 miles away from Minneapolis
- Both cities contain a major Division 2 university, St. Cloud State University & University of Minnesota Duluth
- Duluth has a bigger population about 87,000 people and St. Cloud is about 65,000
- Both cities are mainly white in population
- Duluth is bigger in total area than St. Cloud
- St. Cloud has a higher population density than Duluth
With this basic information about each city one would think the list of retail stores and national restaurant chains for each city would be the same. However this is not the case. Here is a quick list of stores and restaurants located in St. Cloud and not in Duluth.
- Chipotle (2 in St. Cloud)
- Granite City Food & Brewery
- TGI Fridays
- Noodles and Company
- The GAP
Why is this list so long?
Duluth needs to make a push for more higher paying technology jobs which can allow people to have more disposable income so they can go to eat out more. When people eat out more, Duluth will get more restaurants and other retail businesses. After speaking to a couple friends, they brought up the point that Duluth is too concerned about blue collar jobs and tourism. These will remain no matter what, but what are the incentives for all the students graduating from UMD, St. Scholastica and Lake Superior College to stay in Duluth? There are none because the higher paying jobs aren’t in Duluth and they move away.
Are there tax advantages for big businesses to move to Duluth? I don’t think so but I could be wrong. In the end it is all about the almighty dollar and tourism dollars just aren’t going to cut it in Duluth anymore. Duluth isn’t going to grow and make improvements if the focus of this city is on tourism.
I would really love to hear from our city councilors and mayor how they will bring higher paying jobs to Duluth. I am not a great big business mind but would love to give my support to people who are. I want Duluth to be better for my kids when they grown up and not just continue to be happy with being average. Duluth is the fourth largest city in Minnesota. Let’s start acting like it. Because if St. Cloud can have these stores and restaurants with a smaller population, so can Duluth.