Rewards of economic development outweigh costs

Posted by on January 5, 2017

The goal of economic development is to improve the economic well-being of a community through efforts that entail job creation, job retention, tax base enhancements and quality of life. We all benefit when the community’s economic development strategies are successful. I often ask groups I speak to, “whose responsibility is it to fund these activities?” While answers may vary, I would argue that the responsibility belongs to us all.

The Lake Superior Community Partnership Foundation’s Chairman’s Circle provides an opportunity to join visionary leaders making economic development in Marquette County a top priority. Together this group creates greater capacity and achieves a higher level of success for today and the future generations to come.

The funds raised through our Chairman’s Circle go toward economic development activities including training and certification, site selector events, research, consulting and conferences. These are all important resources we need to do our job.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, business attraction, while one of the most exciting aspects of economic development, is also the most expensive and time intensive. It is not cost effective for us to travel around the country visiting site selectors so we take advantage of site selector events and other conferences throughout the year hosted by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). At these events we are able to meet with representatives from businesses around the country and tell them about Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula all in one place. I am able to attend these events and promote our wonderful region due to contributions from our Chairman’s Circle.

Making sure our staff is properly training in all aspects of economic development is also very important to our Chairman’s Circle. In 2015, our VP of Business Development, Caralee Swanberg, achieved Certified Economic Developer status and in 2016 I received my recertification for the second time with their support. We are also able to send our business development staff to appropriate training courses to given them the expertise to serve our clients. Our staff is better equipped to serve the community as a result of the resources made available through the Chairman’s Circle funds.

Current members of the Chairman’s Circle include A. Lindberg & Sons, Acuitas, LLC, Advanced Center for Orthopedics, American Transmission Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Champion, Inc., Checker Transport, Cliffs Natural Resources, Eagle Mine, Frei Chevrolet, Hampton Inn, Holiday Stationstores, Integrated Designs, Inc., Iron Range Agency, JM Longyear, Marquette Board of Light & Power, mBank, the Mining Journal, Northern Michigan University, Range Bank, Semco Energy, TriMedia, Upper Peninsula Health Plan, UP Health System, Upper Peninsula Power Company, VAST, Veridea Group, Wells Fargo and Wolverine Power Company. I am so grateful to this group for their continued support!

Exclusive benefits for this group include an annual reception with legislators, weekly e-news updates, access to VIP receptions, legislative updates with customizing capabilities, discounts on LSCP events and special recognition throughout the year. But more than a list of benefits, these companies understand they are making a difference in our region’s economic development services.

Funding economic development in any region remains a challenge; however, the rewards of a successful agency and strategy far outweigh the costs. Economic development is never a short term strategy, but rather a long term process. Our partners and our Chairman’s Circle members understand that. If you are interested in getting involved with this group of forward thinking businesses, please contact me (906.226.6591). Visit our website (, click on participate and Chairman’s Circle for more information.

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