By Molly Brown Every Wednesday at noon, The Western Area Business and Civic Club Meeting gathers at the popular restaurant Mr. D’s on Grand Avenue.
Comprised of various business representatives, the group discusses local happenings, resolves community issues, and organizes fundraisers with an aim to improve the West Duluth area for all who reside there.
The hot topic being addressed within the upcoming weeks involves the repercussions of the anticipated construction of Highway I-35.
While many cringe at the idea of blaring jackhammers and orange cones scattered across the city, not all view the reconstruction of the highway as a problem.
In fact, the Federal Highway Administration gave the previous I-35 extension the “Excellence in Highway Design” award in early 1992 and 1994.
According to the “I-35 Duluth Mega Project” plan, some of the benefits are listed as follows: a one-time/long term fix for I-35, many projects in a two-year time span, pavement replacement, safety improvements on the highway shoulders, barriers, and improved sight distance.
President of the board of the Duluth Business Club, Chris Good explains another upside of the estimated two to three-year long project. “This could be a great opportunity for our businesses. At least they won’t be passing by us anymore,” she says.
“They” are the estimated 32,000 (double the usual 16,000) cars that will take Grand Avenue as one of the alternate driving routes once the construction is under way within the next couple weeks.
However, Central Avenue is one street in West Duluth that will be closed for part of the construction. This leaves some worried that the detours will stop customers from coming to their shops, restaurants, and bars.
In response to this problem, local business owners plan on taking every possible measure to keep their loyal customers happy during the closing of the street.
How do they plan on doing this? Advertising.
Duluth Budgeteer News sales representatives Jana Peterson and Pam Golubowitcz offer a discounted price to the local businesses that want to advertise in an allotted space in the paper.
“During the first and third weekends in May, there will be reduced rates for the businesses that will be most effected by the I-35 construction,” Golubowicz said. “As the largest free weekly newspaper in Minnesota, we are happy to put these ads in our paper.”
Any business that does take advantage of the discount will be sure to gain increased exposure because The Duluth Budgeteer News is distributed to about 40,000 households in the area per week.
“The Budgeteer actually originated in West Duluth but it now serves all of Duluth, Hermantown, and Proctor,” Peterson said.
The publication dates are set for May 2 and May 16 and the full color ads will be 20 percent off their original price of $80 for a 2x2 inch, $120 for a 2x3 inch, and $160 for a 2x4 inch space.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN/DOT) is also committed to helping local businesses thrive economically by making sure that customers will still have access to them.
MN/DOT suggests that planning ahead is key for the businesses. Other ways to promote during the construction include holding events prior to the construction to draw attention, pooling resources for group advertising, and designing a logo for merchants that are affected.
“We will survive,” said a hopeful member of the Western Area Busines and Civic Club.
For more information on traffic updates and the details of the I-35 Duluth Mega Project, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/duluthmegaproject.