Investing in Opportunities

Oftentimes LISC gets involved in projects on the ground floor, at their early conception. Created as a documentary to celebrate its 20 year anniversary, meet five current partners and hear in their own words, how LISC is “Investing in Opportunities.”

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20 Years in Duluth: Anniversary Celebration Luncheon, May 2017

Duluth LISC's Annual Luncheon Celebration on Monday, May 8, 2017 was a tremendous success.  

Thank you to our guests, donors, Local Advisory Board members, sponsors and partners. Your support of Duluth LISC is engaging many in our community to work together to create a better, stronger community for all. View Photo Album.

Duluth LISC Honored as Touchstone Award Nominee

The Touchstone Award recognizes and celebrates programs or projects for their leadership in transforming problems into opportunities and service into action. Each year at its luncheon, the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation recognizes non-profits that have gone above and beyond to improve the region by fostering Generosity, Civic Engagement and Inclusiveness. in 2016, Duluth LISC was nominated for Civic Engagement. View the news story.

Duluth LISC Presents 2016 Building Healthy Communities Awards

Duluth LISC Annual Luncheon Recognizes Community Groups by Honoring 2016 Building Healthy Communities Awards

Minnesota Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development,  Katie Clark Sieben,  provided the keynote address titled, “Building a Stronger Minnesota Together” at the 2016 Duluth LISC annual awards luncheon, Wednesday, April 13. Her speech focused on the importance of  stimulating economic development, creating job opportunities and encouraging business growth with an emphasis on DEED’s statewide vision of ensuring that all Minnesotans have equal access to career and business opportunities. In her remarks, she complimented Duluth LISC for their work in housing, workforce and strengthening the community.

Nearly 300 business leaders, public and elected officials, private developers, and members of the nonprofit community filled the DECC Harbor Side Ballroom to celebrate Duluth LISC’s neighborhood revitalization and community building progress. LISC recognized its donors, Local Advisory Board Members and partners for their financial support and dedication to its mission.  Mayor Emily Larson introduced Commissioner Sieben and shared City goals that align with the work of Duluth LISC. She also thanked Commissioner Sieben for DEED’s investment in transformational Duluth projects including the NorShor Theatre, Maurice’s new headquarters, and others. She also highlighted the important relationship between DEED, LISC and the City’s Workforce and career pathways programs.

“Our theme this year is transforming neighborhoods and lives; and we have many community partners and projects that we fund and assist with who are accomplishing this,” stated Duluth LISC Executive Director Pam Kramer.

In presenting the 2016 Building Healthy Communities Awards, Kramer credited both the Zeitgeist/Center for the Arts & Community and the Entrepreneur Fund, for pulling neighborhood stakeholders and the community together to make significant change into the economic vitality and overall health of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The first award was given to the Lincoln Park Fair Food Access Campaign and was accepted by Tony Cuneo of Zeitgeist. The Fair Food Access Campaign’s approach to affordable, healthy food is community-driven and led by its five priorities that were identified during neighborhood canvassing. Kramer shared: “They remain actively engaged and the results from the Emerald Community Garden and the Farmer’s Market at Harrison Community Center to the Grocery Express and community-based cooking classes are having a dramatic effect, reaching residents with very limited resources.” It was noted half of 2015’s sales at the Lincoln Park Farmer’s Market were EBT transactions. The second Building Healthy Communities Award was given to Advance Lincoln Park—a group of entrepreneurs united by the vision of creating a Craft District destination. The award was accepted by Shawn Wellnitz, president of the Entrepreneur Fund, who partners with LISC to help entrepreneurs grow their business. “The Lincoln Park Business Pop-Up Event brought so many like-minded businesses together and fundamentally changed the impression of the neighborhood,” explained Kramer. “The momentum Advance Lincoln Park has created is attracting more businesses with six new ones already opened or expected in the coming year.”

In addition, LISC shared a video that provided insight into its work through its many At Home in Duluth partners, helping move forward LISC’s Building Sustaining Communities Initiative of seeing investment in real estate, building family wealth and assets, increasing economic activity, improving access to education and having safe, healthy environments by providing convening support, technical assistance, and early investments which have led to transformative results.

About Duluth LISC
Duluth LISC opened in 1997 and has developed or preserved 1,684 units of housing, created 186 new child-care spaces, 1,553 new jobs, and leveraged over $83.9 million in LISC investment in Duluth. Duluth LISC has three core programs: At Home in Duluth Building Sustainable Communities comprehensive revitalization, affordable housing development and preservation, and building the capacity of local community development organizations to carry out these programs.

2015 Celebration & Building Healthy Communities Award

2015 Luncheon Celebration

Duluth Mayor Don Ness Receives 2015 Building Healthy Communities Award and Is Honored for His Hometown Legacy at Duluth LISC Annual Luncheon

Three-term former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was on hand to honor Duluth Mayor Don Ness in his keynote address he titled, “Hometown Legacy of a Homegrown Mayor” at the 2015 Duluth LISC annual awards luncheon, Wednesday, April 15. The speech focused on how Ness has “let Duluth be Duluth” and set the stage for Duluth LISC to present Mayor Ness with its 2015 Building Healthy Communities Award.

More than 300 business leaders, city and elected officials, private developers, funders, and members of the nonprofit community packed the DECC Harbor Side Ballroom to celebrate Duluth LISC’s neighborhood revitalization and community development progress. LISC recognized its donors, Local Advisory Board Members and partners for their financial support and dedication to its mission. 

“Our mission of helping people and places prosper takes leadership and vision, and this year we wanted to recognize Mayor Ness as the Building Healthy Communities Award winner,” said Duluth LISC Executive Director Pam Kramer. Ness was honored for his vision, leadership and perseverance in restoring vibrancy to Duluth’s neighborhoods with Kramer noting, “Among many accomplishments, his focus of broadly telling Duluth’s story as a cool place to live, work and do business throughout the country has built Duluth pride, optimism, new jobs and hope for the future.”

In presenting the award, Kramer credited Mayor Ness with many achievements, including his partnerships in the following, which advance the goals of LISC’s At Home in Duluth Building Sustainable Communities initiative. 

  • Housing development, preservation and neighborhood investments: Harbor Highlands, Clyde Park, Gimaajii, Housing Resource Connection, Steve O'Neil Apartments, NorShor Theater, LSS Center for Changing Lives, and many others
  • Workforce development and poverty reduction efforts: Duluth At Work, Community Action Duluth, Duluth Energy Efficiency Program
  • Blight removal/community safety: Community Policing, Citizen Patrols, Duluth Blight Collaborative
  • City planning and resident engagement: At Home in Duluth and St. Louis River Corridor neighborhood plans, Connecting the Dots, City's comprehensive plan, small area plans, parks and trails
  • Quality of life: Arts, music, the great outdoors, quality education, recruitment of businesses and young professionals

Kramer spoke of how Mayor Ness has helped build community confidence and prosperity by focusing on natural strengths and always presenting Duluth in a positive light with a bright vision for the future. In addition, LISC shared a captivating video that provided insight into its commitment to helping the community turn visions to action by providing convening support, technical assistance, and early investments which have led to transformative results.

Special Announcement:

Welcome to New Neighborhood Development Officer: Lars J. Kuehnow

As Neighborhood Development Officer, Lars will be responsible for leading Duluth LISC’s efforts to seed revitalization in key neighborhood commercial districts and help plan, oversee, secure financing and assist in implementation of signature projects that are part of LISC’s At Home in Duluth Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) strategy. He has an extensive background as a business owner, entrepreneur, project manager, and business advisor and capacity builder for both non-profits and businesses. He most recently worked with one of our At Home in Duluth partners, the Entrepreneur Fund, as a Senior Business Advisor and oversaw the Growing Neighborhood Businesses program. He has also been active with our At Home in Duluth Core Group, as well as assisted with our Lincoln Park Fair Food Access work, the Hillside Health District Plan and recent work led by the Entrepreneur Fund in the Lincoln Park business district. We are very pleased to have him part of our LISC team working in Duluth.

Housing Resource Connection (HRC)

Housing Resource Connection


For most families, a home is the single, largest investment that they will make in their lifetime. LISC knows that maintaining and protecting that investment is key to making communities safe and healthy places to live, work and raise a family.

In Duluth, LISC supported the creation of the Housing Resource Connection (HRC), which provides homeowners with comprehensive, streamlined access to information on how to secure funding for home improvements, weatherization, home purchase and simple repairs. With $75,000 in grant funds and additional operating support from LISC, the HRC is an outcome of the At Home in Duluth collaborative, which is working to improve the quality of life in five core neighborhoods.

With One Roof Community Housing as the lead agency, the City of Duluth and three other housing-related non-profits came together to develop this new “one-stop-shop” approach. The HRC consists of both a centrally- located walk-in facility and an easy online information/application portal that connects applicants with a plethora of comprehensive services and promotes affordable, energy-efficient home improvements, and easy health and safety modifications.

Neighborhood Revitalization Plans: Engaging Residents

Duluth LISC and the At Home in Duluth collaborative released updated Neighborhood Revitalization Plans for the Hillside, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park and West Duluth. 


 Revisions published November 2012.

View Plans: Hillside, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park, West Duluth


Annual Celebration Luncheon Photo Album

The packed house at Clyde Iron Works included over 300 business leaders, city and elected officials, and members of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. They gathered to celebrate recent achievements and honor winners of the 2014 Building Healthy Communities Awards.

View photo album


Duluth’s progress has been remarkable!

Duluth Creative Corridor Report

In six years the city has accomplished what would take many places two decades. It is also the right city at the right time. In today’s economy, successful communities are those that can create distinctive, vibrant, walkable urban places capable of attracting and retaining businesses, investment, residents, and visitors. And that is exactly what the panel’s overarching recommendation aims to build on and secure with the creation of what the panel dubbed “The Duluth Creative Corridor."

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