DULUTH, MN - Here's a rare opportunity not to be missed by anyone struggling with finances, a housing situation, or the ability to go back to school or to send their high schooler to college: experts from across the community all in one place, offering advice and guidance and answering questions - any questions. And all for free. Even coffee and pastries are free.
The opportunity is a first-of-its-kind-for-the-Twin Ports event called "Empower: A Financial, College Education & Housing Expo, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The place is the E Building at Lake Superior College.
There'll be financial-, housing- and college-focused sessions with one-on-one appointments available by sign-up all day long.
College-related topics to be covered are scheduled to include financial aid and how to pay for college, transferring credits, choosing the right school and the right program to best fit your educational goals, and budgeting tools for students.
Housing-related subjects are to include how to know when you're ready to buy a house, foreclosure help, home maintenance and rehabilitation, getting along with neighbors, and landlord-tenant laws and resources.
Financial issues are to include budgeting in a way that grows savings, boosting your credit score, getting out of debt and avoiding debt, and certified financial planners who can help with taxes, insurance, estate planning, investing and more.
"It's kind of a one-stop shop. ... It's everything all in one big room," College of St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin said in a meeting yesterday with members of the News Tribune editorial board. "The purpose is to provide a public service to the community."
The event started as an education fair, or a college fair. That's what Goodwin, University of Minnesota Duluth Chancellor Lynn Black, University of Wisconsin-Superior Chancellor Renee Wachter and Lake Superior College President Patrick Johns brainstormed one day over burgers for lunch. The four meet regularly to find ways to work together to benefit the community. Saturday's expo is just the latest example of the good all the Twin Ports can receive when our campuses of higher education work in cooperation rather than in competition.
In addition to the four schools, Saturday's expo is now also being sponsored by Lutheran Social Service, Community Action Duluth, the city of Duluth, 1 Roof and WITC-Superior.
"Strengthening an individual's financial position and education are important in building a strong and vibrant community," the College of St. Scholastica's Rebecca Brenna said in a written statement about Saturday's expo. "The event is a no-pressure way to gather information from various organizations; there are no sales pitches. ... There is an opportunity to take action and get free credit reports, power of attorneys and living wills, as well as free one-on-one appointments with certified financial planners, credit counselors, housing counselors, financial aid representatives, flood relief specialists and fair housing experts."
The expo may be a first-of-its-kind for the Twin Ports, but with the leadership of President Goodwin, Chancellor Black, Chancellor Wachter and President Johns, it won't be a rare opportunity for long. Their brainstorming pegged the expo as an annual, free event. So let's take full advantage.
Duluth News Tribune