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Larson Highlights Jobs, Childcare, Housing, Energy in State of the City Address

Ryan Juntti
Updated: April 16, 2019 06:41 AM

Jobs, childcare, housing, and energy are topics that all of us are affected by. Those topics came front and center on Monday night in Duluth Mayor Emily Larson's State of the City address held at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School.

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Larson laid out how she plans to address those issues, and reflected on what has been done over the past year.

She says the city has been working with the National Resources Research Institute for a solution to patch potholes.

She also highlights local investments being made with Essentia and St. Luke's building new facilities downtown.

"There are real signs of economic confidence, and optimism for our future," said Larson.

She also points to steps being taken to get youth programming back in parks.

Moving forward, Larson says she will address race and gender disparities in the job market. She says African-American and Native Americans are 4 times more likely to be excluded from a job, and that the City of Duluth is working with Duluth Building Trades to address job shortages in construction trades.

"We need to build a talent pipeline to fill job vacancies in key sectors of our economy, and smash persistent disparities across race and gender," said Larson. "We can, and must redouble our efforts to make sure everyone who wants a decent job can find one," she said.

Larson also wants to work to add more childcare facilities, as she says a recent report identifies a shortage of 2600 childcare spots in St. Louis County.

Larson says the City Council just passed a zoning change that will allow childcare facilities to be located closer to where parents work. She says Duluth's 1200 Fund is currently working to develop a revolving low-interest loan program to help cover initial start-up costs for home-based childcare.

"Without childcare, many of our children are denied opportunities for a healthy start in life," said Larson.

Larson also emphasized focusing on addressing affordable housing. She says the City of Duluth is hiring a housing developer in Planning and Economic Development to work with community partners to achieve the housing goals laid out in Imagine Duluth 2035. She also says she will be working with City Council President Noah Hobbs to activate a Mayor's Task Force on Affordable Housing.

"Let me be clear, it is a crisis," said Larson. "On any given night, hundreds of people in Duluth have no home, hundreds more worry if they'll have one next week," she said.

Lastly, Larson says she wants to move away from fossil fuels for an energy source. She says the City Council approved her Energy Plan Commission, which she says will develop the policies and drive the city's strategies for greater energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases.

"We must move away from fossil fuels, and build our infrastructure to be more resilient as we continue to face 500-year storms every few years," said Larson.

But she is quick to point out that none of this is possible without the community coming together.

The State of the City address was held in the East Hillside neighborhood as that is where Mayor Larson lives, "for the importance that this neighborhood has had in her life, and for the women after which Myers-Wilkins Elementary School is named," a release from the City of Duluth says.

Click here to watch the full speech.

Larson is running for re-election this year, and no other candidates have entered the race yet.

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Ryan Juntti

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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