Ambassadors Work Towards Long-Term Economic Solutions in Lansing

Posted by on October 18, 2021

The Marquette County Ambassadors are making their trip to Lansing this week – again virtually. Each spring and fall, the LSCP works with the Marquette County Ambassadors, a cross-sector group of leaders from business, local governments, schools, and more, bring our region’s issues and priorities to state agencies and decision-makers. The last several Ambassador ‘trips’ have focused on mitigating and recovering from the pandemic. Now, with recovery efforts underway, the Ambassadors are sharing a message about our future, and the opportunities before us to address long-standing challenges related to the economy, workforce, childcare, housing, broadband, health needs, and more. A historic lack of investment in the systemic roots of these challenges has left many parts of our economy and communities vulnerable to crisis, as we’ve seen over the last 18 months. As the pandemic exposed and exacerbated the weak links in these systems, there’s been a greater focus on finding long-term, high-impact solutions that lead to stronger, healthier, and more prosperous communities. The Ambassadors aim to emphasize our role as partners in those solutions and to communicate what’s working, what’s not, and what we’re optimistic about. For instance, the State’s budget allocations and future funding priorities address many of the issues we’ve identified as a priority for businesses over the years, like workforce development, child care, housing, infrastructure, and community revitalization. As partners that are finding and implementing innovative solutions to our local needs, Marquette County and the U.P. should be at the table in decisions about that spending, to ensure that the funding and programs provide the flexibility for rural areas like ours to address the unique needs we have. To that end, one message we’ll be sure to share is our gratitude and support for work that’s gone into a couple of key U.P. issues – including a new circuit court judge position, an idea long in the works – as well the creation of a new Office of Rural Development that was included in this year’s budget and supported by legislation introduced by Senator McBroom last week. The Office is a goal the LSCP and its partners have been working towards for years, in order to guarantee that decisions about state programs, policies, and funding account for the needs of rural areas – which have often been sidelined or underrepresented in new programs and decisions about resources. The work towards creating the Office of Rural Development is a huge step forward, and a great example of how our regional advocacy impacts decisions in Lansing. That regional advocacy is especially important today, as the State considers where and how to allocate the billions of dollars in federal money that have not yet been accounted for. These resources – and the momentum building around long-term solutions – represent unprecedented opportunities to invest in our businesses, communities, schools, health services, and infrastructure to create systems that make us more economically competitive and resilient, in Marquette County, the U.P., and throughout Michigan. This week, the Ambassadors trip will get that message to decision-makers and ensure that the State sees us partners in building solutions, allocating resources, and creating systems that will make Michigan a leader in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. Sarah Lucas, CEO, writes a bi-weekly column for the Mining Journal.