Thinking Countywide

Posted by on October 17, 2022

Marquette County is the largest county by land area in the state of Michigan. Consisting of 22 unique cities, villages, and townships, the county offers a diverse array of lifestyles and economic opportunities. And no matter where your business or organization resides in Marquette County, the Lake Superior Community Partnership team is there to support your economic development goals.

A prime example countywide approach is our work with the City of Ishpeming. Under this partnership, the LSCP provides access to staff time and economic/community development resources to directly support the city’s efforts in tackling its identified priorities. For 2022, those priorities include developing a strategy for managing blight, developing general community and economic development goals, making progress on achieving certification in MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities process, and providing marketing support to help tell the city’s story. Elle Jansen, LSCP’s Community and Economic Specialist, recently provided an in-person update to the Ishpeming City Council on our progress. I’m excited to see where it goes as we move into the last quarter of the year and to talk to other communities who may be interested in a similar partnership to supplement their local resources.

Additionally, the LSCP has been part of a local coalition focused on finding ways to add capacity to our childcare system. At the Marquette County Commissioners’ recent meeting, they voted to approve $200,000 in ARPA funds to help address child care. $100,000 of those funds will go toward facility expansion grants run through the county. The other $100,000 will be combined with state and local funding to develop and implement a childcare business incubator pilot program which will seek to help start and support in-home childcare businesses.

Why focus on small in-home providers? We see three reasons: focusing on in-home allows us to spread the slots across the county, placing them closer to where people live; in-home has a lower startup cost; and third, in-home businesses provide an opportunity for families to generate additional income using an existing asset: their home. At the request of our partners, the LSCP will serve as a coordinating agent for the pilot program. We strongly believe this approach will complement existing resources and parallel efforts by other organizations focused on expanding or creating larger facilities and those working to address wage and training gaps.

The LSCP also enters into an annual partnership agreement with Marquette County, which includes projects with countywide impact, such as the data booklet, general business retention, and expansion efforts, supporting opportunities at Sawyer International Airport, and more. Outside of local government, our shared services partnership with the West End Health Foundation is proving beneficial for all parties as well.

All of this is to reiterate that it takes us all working together as a county and a region to truly unlock our potential. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the incredible collaboration happening between our deep bench of economic development partners in the area. Our countywide approach at the LSCP only serves to expand on that thinking. So, if you are a local official, business, community organization, or just someone interested in learning more about our work or further strengthening our partnership, please reach out. The LSCP team would love to meet with you.

By Christopher Germain, CEO of the LSCP writes a bi-weekly column for the Mining Journal.