Duluth to “Rebrand” by Streamlining Some City Services

The city government may have a long way to go, but give Duluth Mayor Emily Larson credit. Turnover at top positions in City Hall has paved the way for the proposed consolidation of the planning, construction services and economic development units into one department.

The goal? To increase efficiency and streamline services, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

As part of the restructuring, the city has eliminated a position — director of business and economic development — a move that is expected to yield significant savings. The salary range for the now-vacant post was between about $84,000 and $127,000. With benefits factored into the picture, the city probably stands to save about $105,000 to $159,000 all told.

No doubt there’s more where that comes from. But it’s all part of a move to make city government more compatible with citizens’ expectations.

Larson said the city has moved its planning and construction services staff down to the ground floor of City Hall “to be more user-friendly.”

“We are working to ensure that when you are bringing your business idea forward, we’re making that as seamless as possible and as efficient as possible. We’re really building off some of the recommendations from the Red Tape Reduction Task Force,” she said.

Overall, there are hints of a new willingness to rethink how the city conducts the taxpayers’ business.

Noah Schuchman, who started work as Duluth’s new chief administrative officer last week, said the city is looking to remove impediments to responsible development.

“I think it’s clear that there is great enthusiasm for development opportunities here in Duluth. And as much as that enthusiasm exists and people are working hard to bring development and resources to the community, we have an obligation to take a step back and look at how we’re handling our side of it and make sure that we’re delivering the city’s side of that equation in a way that’s efficient and effective,” he said.

The impetus for the improvements is the prospect of significant new development that will test the city’s capacity to keep projects on track.

Larson said she aims to “rebrand” Duluth “as an assertive, reliable, steady streamlined development partner.”

But the city council still has to vote on whether to get on board with the a more business-like approach on December 10.