It’s a busy time of year for all of us. From shopping and baking cookies to attending Christmas parties to rushing to meet those year-end goals at work, economic development is probably the last thing on many people’s minds right now. But the good news is that the LSCP and our partners are always on the cutting edge, supporting our business and communities, and recognizing the growing list of achievements in the region.
Speaking of achievements, the LSCP is proud to be a participating partner in the US Department of Agriculture’s recent $550,000 Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant. One of only three RISE grants awarded nationwide – and the only one to be fully awarded at the amount requested – the grant will support efforts to establish the Marquette Outdoor Venture (MOV) Innovation Center. This center will combine our natural advantage in the outdoor industry with earlier business stages of development and testing, particularly around EV technology. The implementation of the scholarship will be a major focus in 2023.
On the legislative front, the Michigan Legislature has concluded its 2022 year “Lame Duck” Session (a session held between Election Day and the commencement of newly elected officers in January).
With a change of power once in a generation, there were some unknowns as to what would take place during this session. However, things seem to have calmed down. From a company perspective, one of the biggest remaining issues is the impact of the Summer Court ruling on the Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Acts of 2018. Already expected increases will take place on January 1st for untipped workers, but February 13th is deadlocked from the court ruling, which was also the case at the time would lead to significant increases. We continue to monitor the case as it makes its way through the court system for a final decision.
Locally, the LSCP continues to receive orders for Love on Local cards, making it easy to keep your money local when purchasing goods and services for yourself or those on your list. As I wrote two weeks ago, for every $1.00 you spend at a local business, $0.68 stays in the community, making it a win-win for all of us. While we always encourage buying items or gift cards direct from the source, the Love on Local cards are a great support. Since the program launched in June 2020, we’ve loaded over $375,000 onto more than 4,100 cards. It’s an impressive feat that’s only possible thanks to the incredible community support that the program receives. The deadline for purchasing individual tickets is December 16th; You can visit www.marquette.org/loveonlocal to place your order.
In childcare, the Marquette County Childcare Coalition announced the Childcare Home Business Incubator pilot program. The pilot program is expected to begin in February 2023 and will be funded primarily with $100,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act approved by the Marquette County Board of Commissioners. In addition, the pilot program will draw on funding from a variety of other sources, including governments, the business community and private philanthropy. The LSCP will provide staffing and operational support to the program, which will help add child care places across the county.
On behalf of the entire LSCP team, we wish everyone Happy Holidays. No matter how you spend the holidays, they’re a meaningful time for so many of us. We look forward to an exciting 2023 and can’t wait to continue the region’s positive momentum together.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Christopher Germain is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership.