Investment will be used to strengthen critical shoreline infrastructure

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Economic Development Association (EDA) has awarded $5 million in CARES Act recovery assistance funding to boost the Duluth tourism industry by strengthening shoreline infrastructure.

This funding will make shoreline infrastructure more resilient to storms and other weather disasters while allowing for greater access to waterfront services. The investment will specifically enable the reconstruction of a seawall behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC). 

“This investment is a win-win -- helping boost the tourism industry integral to Duluth’s economy while bolstering critical shoreline infrastructure,” said Klobuchar. “I’ve long pushed for this funding, and as co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, I’ll keep fighting to make sure Minnesota’s tourism industry has the economic resources it needs to thrive.” 

“This grant will help reinvigorate our waterfront in Duluth and protect the surrounding areas against increasingly frequent storms,” said Smith. “The project will help create jobs, boost the local tourism industry, and generate over $25 million in private investment. I am proud of our work on the CARES Act, which has made investments like this possible.”

In July 2020, Klobuchar and Smith wrote letters to former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross expressing their support for this funding to repair essential city infrastructure and reinvigorate regional tourism.

Klobuchar and Smith have long prioritized supporting Minnesota tourism through strengthening infrastructure. Recently, the senators announced major federal funding to upgrade capacity at two border ports of entry, which will help facilitate trade and tourism to Northern Minnesota. In February, they also announced significant federal investments to increase capacity at the Port of Duluth-Superior. 

As co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, Klobuchar has championed efforts to support tourism as key to driving economic growth. She led the Sustaining Tourism Enterprises During the COVID–19 Pandemic (STEP) Act, which was signed into law. This bipartisan bill, which Klobuchar introduced alongside Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), provides economic support for organizations involved in promoting and hosting tourism and travel. In September, Klobuchar and Blunt’s (R-MO) bipartisan legislation to support Brand USA, a public-private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States, passed the Senate Commerce Committee. 

Smith has long pushed to ensure critical CARES Act funding is distributed equitably to improve infrastructure across Minnesota and the United States. Additionally, both senators have worked on the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, of which Klobuchar serves as a vice-chair, to improve the environmental and economic health of the Great Lakes. They helped introduce the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act and have repeatedly resisted proposed cuts to the restoration budget.