New executive director at Cook County Visitors Bureau
Linda Jurek Kratt, recently hired to serve as the Cook County Visitors Bureau (CCVB) executive director, may be familiar to North Shore residents and visitors. It may be because she grew up in Grand Marais, graduating from Cook County High School in 1978. She still has a lot of friends here, but Kratt may seem familiar because her career has made her a well-known figure in the region’s tourism industry.
Kratt comes to the CCVB after six very successful years as the director of business retention and events with the Duluth Chamber of Commerce. If you think you may have seen her on Duluth television, you very well may have. She often represented the chamber on programs related to business in Duluth. She hosted the popular “Forum” series, which invited stakeholders in the economy of Duluth to discuss the important issues of the day. And she hosted events for up to 1,100 people.
Before working at the Duluth Chamber, she worked at Miller-Dwan Medical Center for 17 years, the last five years as the development specialist for the highly successful Miller-Dwan Foundation.
Although her work at Miller-Dwan kept her busy, Kratt found time to venture into business development. She was involved in the start-up of Diamond Willow Assisted Living, partnering with a family member and eventually selling her shares in the company. She is still involved in a family-run 80-site campground and resort on Island Lake outside of Duluth.
Kratt sees those business ventures as assets in her new role as CCVB executive director. “I’m not just looking at the marketing and tourism side of things. I can relate to the concerns of business owners as well,” she said.
But it is her work on events at the Duluth Chamber—the third largest in the state—that she will likely call on the most in her new role at CCVB. She learned a lot in her time there, Kratt said. The Duluth Chamber was very connected to local government, something she would like to see more of at the CCVB. She also did some lobbying at the Capitol, which should come in handy for the CCVB.
And of course, Kratt learned a lot about hosting events. She said the Duluth Chamber was involved with about 80 events annually, ranging from intimate gatherings with small businesses with just a few full-time employees to major corporations with hundreds of workers. Kratt oversaw two major events each year, the Chamber Annual Meeting and Dinner—attended by 1,100 people—and a Golf Classic. “All the while keeping in budget!” said Kratt.
Asked if she will be able to adapt to Cook County with its lack of large meeting facilities, Kratt enthusiastically replied, “Absolutely! There are places for large events here. There is the Grand Portage Lodge, the conference rooms at Lutsen Mountains, the big tent that North House uses. I’m a big ‘think outside of the box’ kind of person. We can do it all here.”
One of the things she would like to do is involve the entire community in CCVB activities. “I want our community to understand what CCVB does. We need to communicate to the public to negate the question marks about what we do for the county.”
Kratt said she is open to suggestions. She invites people to contact her at the CCVB at Linda@visitcookcounty.com or at (218) 387-2788, extension 101