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Welcome, Madame President!

Janelle Jones posed with her father Chet Bianco, Darrin Young, Randy Willert and Mike Cavallin at her welcome reception in early April. Photo by Bernie Bischoff

Janelle Jones was appointed president of the Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce on March 12. She was welcomed to her new position at a reception at the Ledge Rock Grille in early April. The News-Chronicle caught up with Jones this week and asked her some questions about her new gig and the future of the North Shore area.

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LCNC: How are you adjusting to the new responsibilities? 

Jones: I am adjusting quite well. I was fortunate enough to have worked for the chamber as tourism director and was able to become familiar with the operations which made for a very easy transition. I am very fortunate to work with a great board of directors and great staff who have made the process very comfortable. Gordy was a great mentor!

LCNC: What do you like most about your new job?

Jones:I am so fortunate to be able to do something I truly love in a community I am passionate about. Being able to be amongst the communities on the North Shore promoting business and tourism is so rewarding because of all the great people I get to meet and deal with on a daily basis. Everyone has the same vision — to have a great quality of life in this beautiful place. I can hardly call it work, but an opportunity to make a difference by reaching out to the businesses, the locals and the visitors. It’s very rewarding when the day is done.

LCNC: What does the future of 

business in Two Harbors look like? 

Jones: I think the business community is in a definite upswing in Two Harbors. We have several new faces in the historic downtown district with the new brewery making a nice statement on First Avenue, the renovations in the Harbor Movie Theater (which is) soon to open, Architectural Antiques (filling) a long-vacant building and Skreenwerks (taking) up a home on First Avenue - all very positive additions to our downtown. With the City of Two Harbors moving forward and taking the roundhouse down, it has provided us great opportunities along our waterfront for industry, and with technology infrastructure changing every day, we are becoming a strong contender for larger opportunities. Great things have been happening in our industrial park, several of our manufacturing businesses have had significant expansions adding jobs and opportunities … and not to forget the Two Harbors city campground expansion and the continued walking trail improvements all add to the quality our quaint little town has to offer. I believe we are in exciting times. 

LCNC: Are there any big plans in the works for the chamber? 

Jones: On the front burner at the chamber right now is a $20,000 website redesign project. The Two Harbors Area Chamber website is the number one go-to spot (for) North Shore (information) and we need to make sure we keep it fresh and friendly for both locals and tourist alike. Over 80,000 visitors come to our site (each) year to find our business directory, lodging, restaurants... We will be working on local awareness of this site as there are great resources for locals to tap into such as the community calendar, a place for everyone to add their events and look for what is happening in our region, and local Hot Deals. 

The chamber is also gearing up the two information centers we run, the Lester River Information Center, a seasonal resource for visitors hosting almost 20,000 visitors in the five-month season, and the R.J. Houle Information Center, which operates year-round. With the addition of 20 new chamber members since the first of the year, it is so great to see everyone working together to strengthen our presence on the North Shore and help us achieve the mission of the chamber: “To create and enhance a business climate in which area businesses can prosper.” I believe we are achieving it by working with local business and industry along with local and state government, strengthening our opportunities for both growth and retention.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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