Partnership News and Views

Ambassadors take U.P. message to Lansing

Amy Clickner, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership

What a week! The Marquette County Ambassadors completed their spring trip to Lansing which included two full days of meetings with the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, department heads and elected officials. The group of 25 community leaders from Marquette, Baraga and Dickinson counties were able to share important issues to our region, offer potential solutions and say thank you for the various supports they have provided.

On Tuesday, we hosted a legislative reception which was well attended by a variety of state staff and legislators and individuals we met with. Our menu included locally brewed beers and pasties, which are always a hit.

Can you believe that the ambassadors have been doing this trip for 50 years? Well, that is true. Those strategic and consistent visits to the state Capitol have resulted in the group being recognized for its efforts and afforded the opportunity to meet with top officials. Again, the past has set us up nicely for future success.

The overall mission of the ambassadors 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.” The group is privately funded, works collaboratively with the Lake Superior Community Partnership and is made up of business, education, community and government leaders from across the region.

We had four main goals outlined for our trip:

1. Ensure that our public infrastructure meets the needs of all citizens and keeps pace with advanced technologies.

2. Support the funding and appropriate regulatory oversight required to efficiently and effectively run local government.

3. Advocate for changes necessary in P-20 education to prepare students for careers of the future and to provide a skilled workforce to support the region’s employers.

4. To sustain, grow and diversify the Upper Peninsula’s vibrant economy and outstanding quality of life.

Within those goals were specific calls to action that are important to the region:

1. Ensure that our public infrastructure meets the needs of all citizens and keeps pace with advanced technologies:

¯Support utility corridor: Line 5 permitting and construction.

¯Expand high-speed broadband.

¯Sustainable/permanent road funding.

2. Support the funding and appropriate regulatory oversight required to efficiently and effectively run local government:

¯Keep current Public Act 51 formula the same.

¯Support SB0026 and SB0039 addressing the “dark store” issue.

¯Sustain municipal finance and revenue sharing.

¯Oppose unfunded mandates.

3. Advocate for changes necessary in P-20 education to prepare students for careers of the future and to provide a skilled workforce to support the region’s employers:

¯Increase funding and awareness for CTE programming e.g. Placed students in careers including the military, and higher education programs.

¯Consider U.P.’s vast geographic distances for education e.g. Created Northern Promise (face-to-face university courses taught in high schools).

4. To sustain, grow and diversify the Upper Peninsula’s vibrant economy and outstanding quality of life:

¯Support investment in natural resource extraction industries i.e. Support HB 4227.

¯Support continuation of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and flexible programming for rural areas.

¯Promote rural policies that move the U.P. forward e.g. Great Lakes Sports Commission.

One message we wanted to leave behind with all is that it is important to consider statewide regional differences, that “one size does not fit all,” and that this must be taken into consideration when developing state policies and programs.

We believe that people in the Upper Peninsula are talented, innovative and know how to work collaboratively with limited resources. Allow us the flexibility and resources to develop local and regional solutions to the challenges we face.

All in all we had a great trip and our message was received loud and clear. Thank you to all who participated in the trip and, in particular, the U.P. delegation who support us in Lansing every day.

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.