Ambassadors made important trip to Lansing

Amy Clickner

Spring is in the air! That also means it is time for the Marquette County Ambassadors to invade Lansing for a couple days.

This privately funded group consists of business, education and government leaders from the Marquette County region. This group is under the Lake Superior Community Partnership umbrella and is served by the LSCP staff. The group’s mission is to promote and foster economic vitality throughout Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula, to carry the story of the Marquette County area to others, and salute those who deserve recognition.

For decades, the Ambassadors have made an annual trip to Lansing to meet with legislators and state department personnel. Two years ago, they added a second trip in the fall to be more consistent with messaging and to help build key relationships.

This year 25 Ambassadors spent two days in Lansing, completing nearly 30 meetings and hosting an incredibly successful reception for our friends in Lansing. The purpose of the trip is three fold: 

• Inform our legislators of relevant issues facing the U.P., in particular Marquette County

• Listen to perspectives on activities related to state government 

• Share our position on critical issues related to the U.P.

This year we kicked off our trip with a breakfast that included a legislative update from Sarah Hubbard of Acuitas, a government relations firm in Lansing and good friend to the LSCP and the Upper Peninsula.  Armed with this additional insight, we began our meetings, sharing the key messages we had crafted.

Planning for the trip takes months with the majority of our energy spent on creating position papers in four major areas:  economic development, infrastructure, education and local government. The makeup of the Ambassadors allows us to have experts from a wide variety of areas at the table in order to accomplish this.  Many, if not all, of the issues raised or initiatives supported are not specific to Marquette County but rather the Upper Peninsula as a whole. 

You can find a list of Ambassador members and our 2017 Position Paper under the Government Relations tab at www.marquette.org, but to give you an idea of what was discussed. Here are some of the highlights:

• Support of the Soo Lock expansion

• Continuation the road formula in Act 51

• The need to address impacts of revenue sharing decreases

• Support Tax Tribunal reform i.e. Dark Store issue

• Support of dual and concurrent enrollment

• Continue to support the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Pure Michigan funding

• Support of our natural resource extraction industries

Above is just an example of the subject matter we covered in Lansing. The ability to have a clear, concise position on a variety of topics makes it easier for our legislators to know where we stand as a region. Truly, the Ambassadors check their business or personal agendas at the door and focus on the collective needs of the community.

As someone who has been fortunate to be an Ambassador for many years I can attest to the fact that the incredible amount of work that goes into the trip is worth every minute. When you look around the room and see this group of community leaders taking time from their busy day jobs to work on a message intended to improve the region as a whole, you can’t help but be bursting with pride.

Needless to say, the visit is well received and everyone knows when this group of Yoopers hit the Lansing city limit. In particular, our U.P. legislative delegation embraces our visit and assists us in a variety of ways to make our time in Lansing successful, which we greatly appreciate. We are already looking forward to the next trip!

Editor’s NOTE: Amy Clickner is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.