Mayor Larson’s 2022 Focus: Economic Development, Public Safety, Connectivity, Sustainability
DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth Mayor Emily Larson was face-to-face with fellow leaders and supporters Tuesday evening for her first in-person State of the City Address in two years because of the pandemic.
The theme of the speech was “lighting a path forward” to focus on economic development, public safety, connectivity and sustainability.
As for economic development, Larson said the city has to get better with its permitting and review process to make things simpler and clearer.
To do this, the city will be moving away from a paper system to launch multiple digital tools and convene an internal audit to communicate faster and better meet the needs of developers to cut down on unnecessary red tape that might send business elsewhere.
“Our role as a City is to lay out our values and set an economic development vision, work with community partners to develop a strategy, and then make clear what is required and ensure our processes are easy,” Larson explained.
Larson said she’s committed to improving public safety, especially within the downtown area. She said the past two years of the pandemic have created more mental health incidents, including aggressive panhandling, erratic behavior and even public urination.
So she’s calling on the Duluth Police Department and City Attorney’s Office to revive “community court” to help combat the problem.
“Bring together key stakeholders in the criminal justice system – judges, probation
officers, county and city attorneys, the jail, and police. Identify chronic offenders and develop a plan
specific to meet the person,” Larson said.
On a lighter note, Larson wants all residents and businesses in the city to have access of affordable and reliable high-speed internet within six years. The city will be using federal dollars to test out a pilot program in Lincoln Park to get 2,000 homes enrolled there.
And finally, Larson wants the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with the help of the city’s sustainability officer.