Partnership News and Views: Marquette County in the spotlight

Sarah Lucas

Marquette County and the U.P. have been spending a lot of time in the economic spotlight over the last couple weeks.

Last week, an event known as the Northern Fam Tour brought a group of site consultants – who assess communities on behalf of companies looking to grow or relocate in new areas – to Marquette. Hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) with support from partners including the LSCP, the group was here to learn more about the U.P.’s potential for economic growth.

As they learned, that potential is huge. The site selectors heard from workforce and educational partners about the U.P.’s talent pipeline, toured businesses and industries, and talked one-on-one with local CEOs. They heard about our assets and opportunities for growth in industries like outdoor recreation and cybersecurity. And throughout it all, they got to experience some of the best that the region has to offer – local food from throughout the U.P., some sightseeing, visits to Marquette’s breweries and restaurants, and picture-perfect weather. For many, it was their first trip to Marquette or the U.P., and they recognized it as a “hidden gem” with the right ingredients for attracting and sustaining a workforce that in turn supports new business investment and expansion.

The site selectors weren’t the only visitors here learning about our economic growth. Overlapping the Northern Fam Tour were a slew of state-level discussions on issues like outdoor recreation innovation. And, as part of her Summer of Small Business tour, Governor Whitmer covered a lot of ground in the U.P., visiting businesses in Marquette, Iron Mountain, Ironwood, and more to highlight the state’s economic recovery, which is ranked as one of the nation’s strongest. Michigan’s economy grew 7.6% in the first quarter of 2021, among the top ten states in the country, and much of that can be attributed to the resiliency of small businesses that not only carried on through the pandemic, but actually expanded. One such example, and a stop on the Governor’s tour, is Superior Extrusion, Inc., which is adding 44 jobs to its facility located at Sawyer, in one of the largest manufacturing expansions in the U.P. in years.

Superior Extrusion’s expansion, which includes a number of road improvements at Sawyer that featured state and local investment, is a great example of how our economy can take advantage of changes in demand for new innovations like electric vehicles – as well as the benefits of regional collaboration between partners like the state, County, township, and LSCP. That kind of innovation and regional collaboration is something that all of our visitors saw last week, and was noted as one of the region’s strongest economic development assets. Businesses want to invest in communities that link their economic development organizations, local governments, educational systems, workforce development, and business owners together in an ecosystem – so that the talent, resources, infrastructure, and community amenities are all aligned for growth. Last week, our state agencies, leaders, and visitors from throughout the country got a glimpse of how well the U.P.’s economic development ecosystem works together. The LSCP is proud to be a key link in that system, and is looking forward to working with our partners to even further strengthen our connections – to each other, and to new investors and residents.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sarah Lucas is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.


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