Norman Deschampe, a longtime chairman of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, died Feb. 9 of a heart attack in his home. He was 65.
Deschampe was elected to the tribal council in his early 20s and served 27 years as its chairman. He won praise for advocating for his constituents, helping to establish a reservation charter school and developing a strong relationship with the neighboring city of Grand Marais.
Before his death, Deschampe was organizing a Boys & Girls Club on the Grand Portage Reservation, something that Marie Spry, the interim band chairwoman, says she plans to finish on his behalf.
Spry said the band will hold a special election July 1 to choose a new chairperson.
The Grand Portage Reservation is in Cook County, near the tip of the state’s Arrowhead Region.
Destination Medical Center … Up North?
It’s been six years since the Legislature approved a $585 million taxpayer funding package for what’s often called the largest economic development project in the state: the Destination Medical Center project at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
The 20-year project blends those taxpayer dollars with billions more in Mayo and private investment to grow the hospital’s campus, fuel new medical discoveries and rebuild Rochester’s core.
Has it worked? Some folks in Duluth think so.
A bill introduced in the Legislature last week by state Sen. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, would copy Mayo’s public-private model for development in Duluth. His bill calls for investing $164 million in state money and $20 million from the city of Duluth for the area surrounding the city’s hospitals. The money would help pay for infrastructure as Essentia Health and St. Luke’s hospitals invest hundreds of millions of dollars into their facilities.
The hope is that it would spark a building boom similar to what’s happening in downtown Rochester, where apartment buildings, hotels and even a beloved city theater are being built or renovated.
The payoff, Mayo and city officials say, will be thousands of new jobs at the clinic and swelling tax revenue for years to come.
The DMC project required both the Mayo Clinic and the city to kick in their own investment before the public dollars would be available. Even then, the taxpayer money goes to infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks and sewer pipes — not to doctors’ offices. The state agreed to provide $400 million over 20 years, the city would provide $128 million and the county $40 million for transportation.
Simonson introduced the same bill last year, but it never got traction.