After 30 years, the longest serving employee of the business improvement district, Jodi Rochon, has retired.
March 07, 2023 07:00 AM
SUPERIOR — The Superior Business Improvement District had only around for four years when Jodi Rochon was hired as an administrative assistant in 1993 by then-director Kaye Tenerelli.
Now, the longest serving employee of the BID, Rochon is entering the next phase of her life, retirement.
After one final board meeting Thursday, March 2, Rochon turned in her keys Friday, March 3, ending a 30-year career that included taking Santa around to area businesses during the holiday season, planning streetscapes and working with the nearly 300 businesses in the district.
Rochon said she was diagnosed to have multiple sclerosis about 15 years ago, and progression of the disease made it necessary to retire to focus on her health.
“It has been clear to me for quite a while that I needed to move on,” Rochon said. “However, not knowing what the future holds, my mentality was ‘I have MS; MS does not have me.’ So, I kept fighting and fighting to be able to do my job.”
She said over the last three years, the disease has affected her both physically and cognitively. No longer able to give the BID 100%, she said it was time to retire.
“This organization deserves to have somebody that can give 100%, not 60%,” Rochon said. She said it was pure “Norwegian stubbornness” that kept her on the job this long.
Rochon said her immediate plans include a two-week vacation in Arizona, visiting her sister’s winter home in Maricopa. After that, she said she and her husband, who also has MS, will focus on health issues that have been put off for too long.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get back out to a job where I’ll be able to work with the public,” Rochon said. “But I guess time will tell. My health and our health kind of holds all the cards on what we’re going to be doing.”
Rochon said she hopes to find some type of part-time work to stay busy and be among people.
After all, she said it’s the people, the business owners, and being “in-the-know” that she’s going to miss most now that she’s not working at the BID anymore. She said she will also miss being part of the planning process that took place for the reconstruction of Tower Avenue and Belknap Street.
“Seeing both of those projects happen during my time is so rewarding,” Rochon said.
“She’s had such a great connection with people over the years,” said Kelly Peterson, BID director. “Certainly, when we announced her retirement, people were supportive of her for her health and for taking that step back. It’s been a difficult decision for Jodi, too. She’s been struggling with it for a while.”
Peterson said the BID will take some time to assess its needs before filling the position with someone who can complement Peterson’s skills.
“I don’t need another extrovert; we don’t need another Kelly,” Peterson said. She’s likely to look for someone willing to work more behind the scenes.
“She’s been a wealth of knowledge,” Peterson said of Rochon. They’ve often gone back and forth jokingly when Rochon provided 30 years of history when Peterson said she only needed a simple answer.
While she loves the history, it can be a lot when dealing with almost 300 businesses located in the BID.
The one thing Rochon said she won’t miss is handling the minutes of BID board and committee meetings.
“I easily did well over 700 meeting minutes during those 30 years — that I will not miss at all,” Rochon said. “I will gladly hand over the recorder and say buh-bye.”
Other than the minutes, Rochon said, “it’s a job I’ve loved for 30 years.”
Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org.