Saturday, May 03, 2008

Duluth LISC receives $500,000 to help transform distressed areas into healthy communities of choice and opportunity

Central Hillside residents Gene
McKeever and Steve Sydow stand beside a display showing revitalization plans.

If you are living in a blighted neighborhood and you paint your house, another neighbor fixes his porch, and the business down the block spiffs up its storefront, the rest of the homeowners and landlords on your block might decide to follow suit. Before you know it, your neighborhood has become a more comfortable place to live and do business. At least that is what Duluth LISC (Local Initiative Support Corporation) is counting on.

The parking lot and street parking all around the Central Hillside Community Center was full, as was the meeting room as supporters and stakeholders crowded together to hear Duluth LISC announce it had received a $500,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The press conference, held on April 14, featured Duluth Mayor Don Ness and the Knight Foundation representative Polly Talen.

The grant will make five Duluth neighborhoods significant participants in a national effort to involve residents in long-term planning physical improvements and comprehensive community development.

The neighborhoods – Central and East Hillside, Lincoln Park, Morgan Park, and West Duluth – are already targets of LISC’s Creating Neighborhoods That Work – At Home in Duluth Sustainable Community strategy to transform distressed areas into healthy communities of choice and opportunity – good places to work, do business and raise children.

“We think this grant can be a catalyst for anyone – developers, business owners and residents – interested in investing in the neighborhoods that are getting better and stronger by the day,” said Duluth LISC Executive Director Pam Kramer.

“It’s definitely a shot in the arm for the revitalization projects we already have under way in such neighborhoods as the West Duluth Business District and Ramsey Village and the Fourth Street corridor in the Central and East Hillside.”

The Knight grant will help Duluth LISC expand new business development in the designated “At Home” neighborhoods, fund various aspects of “quality of life” plan implementation, support neighborhood marketing and communications efforts, and train residents and community organizers in revitalization techniques.

Duluth LISC’s targeted neighborhood approach is partly a consequence of the 2005 Duluth Charrette, a Knight-funded, long-range planning exercise in which Duluth residents, planners, architects, and urban developers created plans for the East Downtown, Hillside and Waterfront neighborhoods. “LISC understands that good neighborhoods thrive when residents are involved and engaged,” said Knight Foundation Director Polly Talen.

Kramer emphasized that while LISC and Knight Foundation have laid the groundwork for the comprehensive redevelopment of those neighborhoods, the participation of private developers, residents, and businesses is essential for long-term success.

For more information, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of the Twin Ports and 25 other U.S. communities. Knight Foundation focuses on ideas and projects that create transformational change.

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