Duluth City Council Grants Spirit Mountain $300,000

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Stronger than anticipated tourism tax dollars will be used to help a struggling Duluth ski hill regain its momentum. 

Spirit Mountain now has $300,000 coming from the city to help meet payroll costs.

Brandy Ream, Executive Director of Spirit Mountain, held a press conference Tuesday morning extending her thank you to the city for its confidence in her to get the attraction back up and moving. 

Ream says the mood in the office was a bit lighter after the vote. 

However, questions are popping up. 

When will the city stop providing financial help to the attraction?

“Now is the time to give the new management the support they need,” said Duluth City Councilor, Joel Sipress. 

It’s very clear councilors are on board to do whatever it takes to get Spirit Mountain back on solid financial footing again. 

“We have one goal at Spirit Mountain and that is to ultimately make us sustainable,” said Ream. 

Increasing both revenue and tourism numbers are top priorities for the attraction. 

“We want to be able to provide long tenured quality employment here at Spirit Mountain,” said Ream. 

Without that additional funding, the business would not be able to do that. 

“The cost of goods is increasing, overall operating expenses are increasing.  But, we have to do everything we can to increase revenue,” said Ream. 

So, what about more financial assistance in the future?

“The amount that we’ve set aside should be enough to provide that short term financial cushion,” said Sipress. 

If a few years down the road, Spirit Mountain is still not on the path to sustainability, changes will need to happen. 

“They have a short term cash flow problem and the amount that we’ve allocated should be enough that from now to the end of the year, if they have some short term cash crunches this is a sum they can tap into,” said Sipress. 

Councilors are also hoping to revisit the tourism tax budget. 

“See what their needs for the next year are going to be and build that into the tourism tax budget for next year,” said Sipress. 

It’s a process that will take time. 

“This is not a quick, fast turn around,” said Ream. 

Councilor Jennifer Julsrud was the one vote against providing Spirit Mountain with the $300,000. 

She wants to consider selling it to a private company. 

There are a lot of discussions to be had in the future, but councilors do not expect to help them out for the rest of this year financially.

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