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‘Our Best Advantage Is Duluth’

Lake Superior and his home city are top of mind for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's Daniel Hartman

By Todd R. Berger

Daniel Hartman CREDIT Mark Fitzgibbons/Fitzphoto

Born and raised in the Crosby-Ironton area of central Minnesota’s Brainerd Lakes region and the son of a mom who owned a party store, Daniel Hartman has lakes and events seared deep in his psyche. The executive director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) feels at home in his harborside job, which he took on last June.

“I have always had a thing for being around water,” says Hartman. “My parents lived on a lake growing up, and I think that is part of the lake culture I am very familiar with. And Duluth, being on the shore of Lake Superior, you can’t get more water infusion than that. … It is just a crazy, crazy beautiful place, and it is definitely a place I wanted to raise my kids, too.”

Hartman sailed 100 miles east of Brainerd Lakes for college at the University of Minnesota Duluth 22 years ago, and during his college years, he led the student effort to build com- munity support for the construction of Amsoil Arena, a 9,264-capacity venue that opened in 2010, which he now oversees. “It is amazing to come back full circle and now be in charge of it,” Hartman muses.

Hartman says he expects the DECC, a multivenue site with a 500-person event staff, to bring in $13 million or more this year, up from $12 million in 2022.

However, when asked what is unique about the facility, Hartman is direct. “It’s Duluth. There are few locations that are better to host your meeting than this place. This morning, we had a sunrise coffee event, and I don’t know of a convention center that is better to watch a sunrise than this place. Today’s a bad example—it’s cloudy. But last Friday was drop-dead gorgeous. And to sit in a chair, getting ready for your meeting in the morn- ing, and you see the sun rise over the Aerial Lift Bridge, it’s incredible. … We can do whatever we want in the build- ing, but at the end of the day, our best advantage is Duluth.”