The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on a lot of businesses and industries across the Northland, and the area's tourism and entertainment industries are among those hardest hit.

Initially reported in an interview with WDSE TV's Almanac North last week, the DECC's new interim executive director Roger Reinert explained that while the DECC and Visit Duluth are not in direct talks, stakeholders like the City of Duluth are exploring what a merger between the two organizations would look like.

You can watch Reinert's interview below. His interview begins at the 20:38 mark in the video.

Both organizations have been significantly financially impacted by the pandemic, leaving those stakeholders Reinert mentioned curious what a merger might do. As Reinert explained, there are a number of areas where the two organizations have overlapping duties that make a potential merger a viable option.

The Duluth News Tribune explains that a small subcommittee comprised of some board members from the DECC and Visit Duluth are discussing how an "alignment"  or a possible merger might "improve efficiencies" for both entities.

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Both the DECC and Visit Duluth have laid off staff during the pandemic and have made other changes to adjust for the overall lack of tourism money and events in the area. The DNT reports that Visit Duluth does have enough financial ground to stand on to get to the end of the year, despite being unfunded since May of this year amid a significant drop in tourism money coming in for Duluth during the pandemic.

The talks are in the early stages with no timeline set as the organizations identify if an "alignment" or merger make sense. If the decision is made to proceed with one of these options, the DNT explains that it would require approval from the state government.