Economic development ‘takes a village’

Amy Clickner

So with all the turmoil in the world today, oftentimes neighbor against neighbor, it was amazing to see the world come together around 12 young Thai soccer players and their coach. Hoping, praying, helping and willing them to be rescued and authentically celebrating when the impossible became possible.

It was certainly the first time in a long time that I read my social media sites and traditional news sites and felt something positive. Not the normal shaking my head, what is the world coming to thought process, but truly uplifted that the world found something much bigger to focus on.

Twelve soccer playing boys that we do not know. Whose parents we will never meet. A coach who held it all together. Rescuers that gave, in one instance, their own life to save the lives of others. How does something like this change our world for days? And can we capture, bottle and distribute that feeling of “peace.”

You’re probably asking how does this all tie into economic development or what is happening at the Lake Superior Community Partnership or in our region? I am not sure I can do a good job explaining it, but I will try.

A community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” In today’s world, I would argue a community is so much more complicated than simply living in the same place. Communities are a critical part of economic development, therefore, as practitioners we need to be part of the ecosystem concerned with what it takes to maintain a safe, healthy and economically vibrant community.

Living here all my life, I truly believe that if the Thai cave situation had happened here, the outpouring of support and assistance would have been the same. Look at the recent flooding in the western U.P. Exactly how I would expect people, companies, and organizations to respond in the U.P.

So how does economic development play a role in community development? One way is the facilitation of job retention and growth. I will always remember Marquette County Board Chairman Gerry Corkin telling me that the best “social program” we can provide our citizens is a family-sustaining job. How true is that statement? A good wage, health insurance, options to save for retirement, and the ability to raise a family and enjoy the U.P. lifestyle. If this is happening, then there is less stress on the support systems that are in place to assist people who have hit a rough patch in life.

And speaking of jobs … there is certainly no shortage of opportunities in the region right now. We meet with businesses every day and their biggest concern remains talent. We are no different than the rest of the country when it comes to this challenge, but what about those folks that want to come back to the U.P.? We list a variety of job posting and job sites on our website www.marquette.org. Take a moment and share it with your network that has ties to the U.P. You never know when you can help make a job match for a local company in need of employees.

Are you a company in need of talent? Working on your recruitment strategy? We can help. The LSCP, in partnership with EMSI, has software that can assist you in targeting areas in the United States where you will have better results in your recruiting efforts. We all know people with a connection to the U.P. are the strongest potential candidates to relocate here, and better yet, stay here. Give our business development representatives a call and they can assist you.

The mantra “it takes a village” also applies to economic development. In order for our communities to be successful, we all need to come together and support what is needed in our region. No matter what the issue or trial, we can overcome it together. When an incredible opportunity presents itself, together we can achieve it. (How the community has supported the reopening of the Empire Mine is a great example!)

So to make a long column short. I hoped to take an incident that happened on an international level this week and bring it to a local level. How do we take what we saw, heard, and learned and put it into practice in our everyday lives? While it will be different for each of us, I think it will make us stronger.

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.