Read more Superior business news in "Superior Happenings" in the April 30 Superior Telegram.
At least a dozen businesses joined the Superior landscape over the last year. Each added a spark to the city's dynamic.
"It's an exciting time. I feel like there's just a different energy in the community," said Taylor Pedersen, CEO of the Superior Douglas County Chamber of Commerce. "You're turning a blind eye to it if you're not seeing it, because you can feel it."
Whether business owners are contemplating a move to the Twin Ports or a move from one side of the bridge to the other, Superior's a contender. Both Belknap Street and Tower Avenue have been recently reconstructed; taxes on food and retail goods are lower than in Duluth.
"You do have a lot of people looking at this side of the bridge," said Lindsey Jacobson, executive director of the Superior Business Improvement District.
She said the positive energy has been building since the launch of the Better City Superior initiative, a proposed exposition district which was supported by 75 percent of referendum voters in 2016.
"Everything's changing hands and it's getting new, refreshed energy," Jacobson said.
Businesses like KD's Restaurant, 7 West Taphouse, Pottery Burn and Pak's Green Corner made the move to Superior.
New businesses like Twisted Pastries, Empire Coffee, Annie's Attic and Greenfield Meats and More chose to make Superior home.
The changes can be felt throughout the city:
• JR Jensen has a new building in Superior's East End neighborhood;
• The downtown Empire Block has been restored;
• Fastenal is renovating the Erlanson Building;
• Subway turned a vacant gas station into a restaurant;
• Earth Rider, Thirsty Pagan and Bachand Realty have invested in Superior's north end;
• P&R Properties apartments have sprung up in the village of Superior and downtown, with another underway near East Second Street.
Businesses like Field & Connolly Insurance, Superior Family Dentistry and Shamrock Pizza have spruced up their buildings.
Mainstays like Globe News and Northwest Outlet have weathered years of construction projects yet continue to serve Superior.
"They're on the corner of construction and construction," Pedersen said.
As more businesses open, refresh or relocate in Superior and Douglas County, he encouraged them to reach out.
"There are so many resources available to our business community," Pedersen said. "All you have to do is say 'Hi.' I mean really, just reach out and say, 'We're open and this is what we do.'"
One call can connect business owners to a network of help.
"A lot of times, that Chamber serves as the air traffic controller for the community," Pedersen said. "And we know how to connect people to resources or services they might be looking for."
The BID focuses on an 89-block area of downtown Superior. The Chamber advocates for businesses throughout the county.
"It's not just about Superior but, by the way, Superior is in the county," Pedersen said. "People forget that."
While both are member based, they don't draw a hard line.
"I'll do what's best for business all day long," Pedersen said. "I advocate for business; I stand up for the business community; I'll counsel and advise to the best of my ability."
And he can pass them along to other local experts: the Development Association, city and county contacts, workforce development, UW-Extension and local education providers.
"We make the effort to work together," Jacobson said. "Not just that we can and we do, but we really make the effort."
It's up to the business owners to make the call, however.
"We don't know what we don't know," Pedersen said. "If somebody doesn't tell us they're opening, how do we know?"
Local businesses do more than provide goods and services. They bring in visitors and traffic, employ workers and support community and non-profit efforts.
"The district is full of friends and neighbors and people that have been willing to make the investment because they believe in something and it's there for us to experience," Jacobson said. "We have beautiful infrastructure with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant sidewalks. People need to take advantage of it."
That means shopping local.
"Because the first thing that we hear when something closes is 'Great, another thing gone.' But we also need to remember that it's our responsibility, not just us, but to get people to go to these places, too," Jacobson said. "We have a lot of really wonderful stuff in our backyard. We need to keep it there."
For more information on the Chamber, visit superiorchamber.org, call 715-394-7716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the BID, visit superiorbid.com or call 715-394-3557.