Lake Superior Community Partnership: Then and Now
In the early 1980’s, community leaders came together to assist in solving serious issues affecting the County’s mining industry and threatening to impact thousands of jobs. They named their group the Lake Superior Jobs Coalition. Once the crisis was averted, the group became fairly inactive.
In wasn’t until 1995 that the Jobs Coalition was again called to action, the reason…the possible closure of K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base located in Marquette County. Although the attempt to save the base was unsuccessful, it was through this collaboration that the group realized it needed to continue working together to move Marquette County past the closure and toward redevelopment. Working with the County, the move of the County Airport to Sawyer was first on the list.
By 1997, the Jobs Coalition had formally organized, solicited leaders from throughout the County and changed its name to the Lake Superior Community Partnership (LSCP). Community leaders representing labor, industry, business, religion, education, non-profits, media and government formed what has become the Partnership’s organizing Board of Directors.
The Partnership is built on the belief that efforts to improve our quality of life should be:
- Truly regional in nature; recognizing that we can accomplish far more together and that our competition is truly global.
- Build around true private-public partnership; recognizing that too often in the past we have not shared responsibility for the progress of our community.
- Focused on community development; recognizing that enduring economic benefit can spring only from a well of true community development and improvement.
Using these as building blocks, the Partnership envisions a growing, diversified and sustainable regional economy. This economic health will stem from the investment we make in our children and youth and the growing economic opportunity that we provide for our businesses and citizens. Marquette County and the region will be a rewarding place to work, raise a family and enjoy the unique environment and beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Funding for the Partnership comes from both the private and public sectors with the non-profit organization being run similarly to a private business rather than a municipality. The ongoing partnership between the LSCP and the Marquette County EDC is critical to development efforts and the 1999 merger with the Ishpeming-Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce boosted membership to just under 1,000 members.
Marquette County is in a unique position. We are part of a state that is reeling under the weight of a changing economy, yet our economy has performed well. Marquette County’s median household income has risen comparatively to the rest of Michigan. We’ve seen our population grow, while neighborhoods in countries throughout the state have dwindled. Marquette County’s economy has become more resilient and diverse, with new innovative enterprises that have developed and thrived. In a state that faces great adversity, Marquette County continues to stand tall.
It is, however, more important than ever for Marquette County to rise to the challenges of tomorrow. Our local governments, schools, and non-profit institutions must continue to excel in order to preserve and build upon our exceptio
nal quality of life. The growth of our tax base relies on our ability to effectively create jobs that retain our citizens, as well as bring in new residents. Marquette County’s economy needs highly skilled people; therefore, we must be competitive in attracting professionals (doctors, professors, engineers, and scientists) who have many options when choosing an area to live.
The Lake Superior Community Partnership recognizes that county wide collaboration is a necessity for our continued success. Sharing services in order to achieve greater scale and efficiency is essential. Improving communications among members and partners is crucial. Continuing to promote and connect local goods and services to the local, regional, national, and global markets is vital.