The unprecedented rainfall and flash flooding of June 20, 2012 left an immediate mark on Duluth and its neighboring towns.

Amid the damage, many feared the local hospitality industry would take a massive perception hit. But local citizens and leaders came together, acting fast and working hard to make sure would-be summer visitors knew that Duluth was still open for business.

People like Terry Mattson (right), the president and CEO of Visit Duluth, the city’s official destination marketing organization, was recognized with a 2012 Vision Award for Leadership by the editors of Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal ( He was presented with the award September 27 in Minneapolis.

The Best in Minnesota’s Hospitality Industry Leadership Award, bestowed for calling others into action and making an impact, is one of seven Vision Awards that celebrate professionals who demonstrated best practices over the past year.

It’s exactly what Mattson did in the aftermath of the storm — immediately working with city, state and federal officials to create a unified message that the city’s tourism infrastructure was undamaged and ready for business. The slogan, “Duluth is open for you” was created and infused into a strategic communications plan for traditional and social media.

In countless news interviews, the message of reassuring travelers that they could still come to Duluth had to be carefully crafted so as not to minimize the significant damage that had occurred to residential areas and surrounding communities.

It paid off, according to one indicator: Duluth tourism tax collections increased by five percent in July 2012 over July 2011 — despite the storm and its publicity aftermath.

“Terry Mattson leads with a passion and desire to serve the best interests of our community,” said Anna Tanski, Visit Duluth director of sales and marketing. “He opened clear channels of communication between industry stakeholders and multiple agencies. He gathered input and feedback, then set a plan in motion based on one collective voice. Without his proactive leadership, the negative impact to Duluth’s tourism industry could have been devastating.”

Visit Duluth is Duluth’s only officially recognized destination marketing organization. Chartered in 1935, it represents approximately 400 businesses that make up Duluth’s tourism industry and is dedicated to promoting the area as one of America’s great vacation and meeting destinations — providing comprehensive, unbiased information to all travelers. 

Meanwhile, here's a YouTube blog Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, posted during the height of the flood:

Lake Superior Magazine names 2012 Achievement Award winner

Lake Superior Magazine has named the winner of its 2012 Achievement Award – The Bad River Watershed Association. The award was announced in the October/November issue of Lake Superior Magazine currently available on the newsstands.

The award will be formally presented at the November 15 meeting of the association in the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute building at Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, at 6 p.m.

The Bad River Watershed Association (BRWA), based in Ashland, was formed in 2002. Its mission encompasses education about the watershed, developing ways to connect residents to the watershed and activities geared toward protecting the water quality of the rivers, streams and Lake Superior.

Despite the small size of the area population and of the association membership, the group has undertaken many ambitious and critical projects within and slightly beyond the large watershed. Volunteers do regular monitoring of water quality, establishing a base of data helpful in reviewing future developments.

The association has connected federal programs to local governments to replace inadequate culverts in the district and for other projects. It has also begun working with landowners to encourage water-health practices.

“Our annual Achievement Award is meant to honor and call attention to the work of groups or individuals who have significantly contributed to the well-being of Lake Superior and its people,” said Lake Superior Magazine Editor Konnie LeMay. “For us, the Bad River Watershed Association is a perfect choice. It demonstrates through its staff and volunteers that people can make a difference for water quality. The association also can serve as a true role model for other small communities around Lake Superior also interested in protecting their watersheds.”

Lake Superior Magazine began giving out an annual Achievement Award in 1994. The bimonthly, full-color magazine has subscribers in all 50 U.S. states, most Canadian provinces and 26 foreign countries. It is part of the family-owned Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. with offices at 310 E. Superior St., Ste. 125, Duluth, MN 55802. The 33-year-old company produces books, calendars, maps, posters and its Lake Superior Collection of products. For details, visit or call 888-BIG LAKE (888-244-5253) or 218-722-5002.

-- Sources: Visit Duluth, YouTube, Lake Superior Magazine

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