In a recent phone call to my brother, who moved from Ishpeming to Green Bay nearly two years ago, the conversation quickly went from "What's new with you?" to "What's new in Marquette?"
My brother is a construction worker in the Green Bay area - he lays brick - so I thought he'd be interested in the various construction projects happening around town.
He actually told me to slow down at one point because I was listing all the projects off too quickly.
I told him about the new $34.3 million Jamrich Hall going in on Northern Michigan University's campus; the $10 million movie theater coming to Marquette Township; the $70 million to $90 million Up The Sky complex - complete with a water park, restaurant and hotel - to be built in Marquette Township; Marquette Township's new community center and fire hall, totaling $3.9 million; Chocolay Township's new $1.8 million fire hall; the Veridea Group's Liberty Way project along Washington Street in Marquette, which will total more than $30 million; and the new Peninsula Bank going in on Baraga and McClellan avenues in Marquette.
What I forgot to mention was the new AutoZone going in along U.S. HIghway 41 in Marquette Township, the completion of NMU's new cogeneration heating and power plant along Wright Street in Marquette, Red Lobster's facelift and the addition of a PetSmart, TJ Maxx and Ulta Salon along the highway in Marquette Township.
Oh, and the completion of yet another section of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.
Most of those projects have been completed or announced in the last year and a half.
Whether or not you appreciate some of those new developments, there's no doubt that the Marquette area is an attractive place to live and an attractive place to start a business, no matter the size.
It brings to mind one of my favorite films of all time, "A League of Their Own." In it, Marla Hooch - "What a hitter!" - is reluctant to leave her father and her small town to chase her dream of playing baseball.
To bolster her confidence, Marla's father tells her "Nothing's ever gonna happen here. You have to go where things happen."
This is certainly a place where things happen.
If national headlines about Detroit's bankruptcy paint the picture of a struggling Michigan, then local headlines about what is happening in Marquette and the surrounding area showcase how to do things right.
I fell in love with this place during my time at Northern, and I knew it was where I wanted to live and work once I graduated in 2009. I knew it was a place I could thrive in. And, indeed, as I look back at my 27 years of life, a huge portion of my best memories happened right here.
This is the place I made some of my closest friends. It's where I met and married my husband, bought my first home, began my career.
In the state of Michigan, this is a place where things happen, and I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jackie Stark is a Chocolay Township resident and a staff reporter at The Mining Journal. Her column appears bi-weekly. She can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org