Creating Good from Difficult Situations

Posted by on August 14, 2017

MARQUETTE — As we are all well aware, the loss of the Empire Mine last year has had a significant impact on our region, in particular the west end of Marquette County. You also know that there has been an initiative, Project Empire, which was kicked off by the Governor a year ago in Negaunee.

One of the deliverables in the project was recently completed and reported last week in the media. The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (TED) and Northern Michigan University’s Center for Rural Community and Economic Development released a study conducted by NMU’s Dr. Michael Broadway to help assist communities in western Marquette County with long-term economic stability and growth efforts. You can find the report on NMU’s website,

Reading the report brought back many memories from the late 1990’s when the Lake Superior Community Partnership was formed. The report outlined some best practices from other communities that very much paralleled the creation of the LSCP and as we approach the kick off of our 20th anniversary in November, I thought now would be a good time to reminisce.

Often times, positive change can be accelerated when born out of crisis, such as the closure of KI Sawyer Air Force or a mine. Many of you remember the devastating loss of the base community in Marquette County. The negative impact was felt by all. It was at that time that community leaders from across the county came together and said that in order for our region to overcome, we need to reach across artificial boundaries and work together. By together, that meant everyone: private sector, public sector, all industries, and all communities. An inclusive approach to developing a plan for the future.

Led by a well-respected community leader (our champion), Msgr. Louis Cappo, leaders from all sectors and parts of the county were engaged to create an economic development organization that could lead us through the difficult times. In November of 1997, the LSCP Articles of Incorporation were signed, creating a 501c6 private-public countywide partnership with a focus on economic and community development.

When the founders created the LSCP, they certainly couldn’t have envisioned all of the economic changes, both opportunities and challenges that have happened over the past 20 years. They did, however, anticipate that there would be changes and they created an organization that was flexible enough to adapt and grow with changing industries and new economic challenges within Marquette County and the region.

Looking back, I have to thank the founders of the LSCP, all the way to those who serve and lead the organization today. Having an organization like the LSCP already in existence when economic changes occur such as the idling of the Empire Mine, keeps us a step ahead in the recovery phase. Collaboration, coordination and community engagement are critical ingredients to economic development success.

How are we prepared to assist? Take a look at our website to check out the services we provide, the experienced team and resources that are in place and our many accomplishments over the years!

Amy Clickner, CEO, writes a bi-weekly column for the Mining Journal.