The annual “Northern Networks” trade conference held Aug. 29-31 in Duluth, Mn. proved to b a worthwhile trip, Mayor Roy Avis and Coun. Paul Ryan reported at Monday night’s regular council meeting.
“The conference was very good,” said Mayor Avis, noting delegates saw presentations on “quite a few topics,” ranging from border crossings and the problems U.S. citizens have getting back into their own country to the Duluth port authority management.
“It’s quite interesting to see the things that are shipped in and out of Duluth all the time,” said Mayor Avis, noting iron ore is shipped to China from there, and some of goods received there actually are bound for the tar sands in northern Alberta.
Delegates also went to a manufacturing plant that made components for some 400 skateboard parks in the U.S., and now is branching out into products, such as cutting boards, desks, and chairs made out of recycled Type 2 plastics.
Mayor Avis noted while the cutting boards are being sold in 4,000 stores in the U.S., much of the business’ sales are done with European customer via the Internet.
He also pointed out Duluth has changed a lot in the past 30-40 years, from having a manufacturing-based economy to a service industry-oriented city, with the latter accounting for 90-95 percent of the jobs there.
The city’s largest employer is the Duluth Clinic.
Mayor Avis also found the waterfront development in Duluth to be of particular interest, noting all the buildings located on the lake have to conform to design plans.
He added some property owners complained about this at first, but then found that adapting to the design specifications tripled their property values.
“It’s taken off, and they haven’t looked back since that day,” the mayor remarked.
“I guess the thing that really stood out in my mind was discussions with people from the trade office of the U.S. federal government, as well as the governor’s office of the state of Minnesota and our own representative from Canada from the Canadian [consulate] in Minneapolis,” said Coun. Ryan.
“They’re out there to help any entrepreneur who wants to either import or export,” he added. “You can contact the U.S. federal government and they will help you export your stuff from Canada into the States.
“They’ll do it both ways.
“They’re out there to help,” continued Coun. Ryan. “There’s a lot of contacts we made there, so if there’s anyone who has a product they want to export or has a product they want to import, we have connections.
“Anybody in this position can come and see Roy or myself, and get in contact with the people we met down there,” he stressed.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, town council:
•approved a report directing the required bylaw zoning amendment for St. Mary’s Catholic Church be included in the update of the town’s Zoning Bylaw and Official Plan scheduled for 2008;
•approved a request from the Township of Alberton to place a gateway sign on the unopened road allowance which extends north of Highway 11-71 between Alberton and Fort Frances (any fees applicable will be waived);
•denied a request from Dennis Robinson to adjust landfill tipping fees;
•approved a new standard operating procedure for completing an interment at the town cemeteries; and
•approved travel expenses for CAO Mark McCaig, Mayor Avis, and Couns. John Albanese and Rick Wiedenhoeft, all of whom attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa last month.