LSCP always focused on primary mission

Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership

It’s hard to believe, but this month officially concludes our 20th anniversary celebration. And what a year it has been! Often times we are so busy, heads down with our work, that we forget to take a moment to reflect on where we have been and all of the accomplishments that have been achieved. This year was a great opportunity for the LSCP team, board of directors, volunteers, partners and investors to do just that.

Yet, even with all of the client work, events, media, educational materials, website updates and social media posts, I am often asked, “What does the LSCP do exactly?” As I look back over the last 20 years and the many things we have done right, finding the right formula to share our value proposition has remained a challenge.

Value proposition — Wikipedia

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value (benefit) will be delivered, experienced and acquired.

In business, a value proposition is much easier defined. That meal you just had at a local restaurant was served to your liking, in a clean, appealing environment, by a friendly and professional server at a reasonable price. That is what you expected. That is what you received.

When it comes to economic development, however, there isn’t that “tangible” item to see, feel or touch. We aren’t able to sum up what we do in a short tag-line or single image that most could relate to. Pink ribbon? Breast cancer. Five colored rings? The Olympics. Golden arches? McDonalds. Well, you get the drift.

To make things more confusing, in economic development we serve several, very different, audiences. We are accountable to our investors, the business community, elected officials, various partners and the general public. Each being connected to economic development in a different way.

So what are some of the questions I get asked? Let’s do a quick little FAQ list that you may find helpful.

Do you work with just large businesses in the area?

No. We work with all sizes, all stages and all sectors of business. This year, we will have worked with nearly 500 businesses providing a variety of services. While we do spend time with our major employers, the bulk of our time is spent with smaller businesses and start-ups. For example, we worked closely with Cleveland Cliffs, including a trip to Cleveland to advocate for the reopening of the Empire Mine. Last month, we assisted 6 start-ups with their business plans, financing and required paperwork.

Do you have to be an LSCP investor to receive business development services?

No. We will assist any business or entrepreneur regardless of their investment. Our investors have made it a priority to make sure that our staff has the tools and knowledge to provide these services which includes funding. They understand that in order for our economy to be successful, all businesses need to be thriving and the LSCP is here to assist. Of course, once you become more familiar with the LSCP or take advantage of our services, we know you will want to invest too!

Don’t you only work in Sawyer? Marquette? West End?

No. No. No. We work in all those areas plus everywhere in between in Marquette County. We also provide services collaboratively with our partners in Baraga and Dickinson counties.

What services do you provide?

From financing through the Economic Development Corporation to business planning, site location and data/research, we have a long list of services available at low or no cost. For a full list of services, check out our Business Resource Guide at www.marquette.org.

But I don’t need any business development assistance.

That’s great! Perhaps in the future when you are facing a new challenge or embarking on an exciting opportunity the LSCP could support your efforts in some way. But think about the business next door or down the street, your supplier or your customer that may need support today to be successful. Your investment in economic development assures that these services are ready and available. No one in business operates in a vacuum, so we need all parts and pieces of our economy to be churning.

Hopefully, this has shed some light on what an economic development organization does and why it is critical to have one in your region. I challenge you to think differently about the value of having a full service economic development organization in your backyard. So maybe you don’t need our assistance today, but you may in the future. And, as a business, you certainly know that your customers need to have solid jobs in order to continue to buy goods and services. The overused adage, “A rising tide raises all boats” directly applies to economic development.

For more information on investing in economic development, email Kennan Marana at kmarana@marquette.org or call (906) 226-6591.

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.