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Christopher Germain, CEO, Lake Superior Community Partnership

MARQUETTE — Marquette County is a diverse place in many ways, including our economic seasons.

While summer tourists find their way up here every year, we also benefit from another great migration: the annual return of students studying at Northern Michigan University.

While I know it seems we’ve barely had enough summer beach time, the Lake Superior Community Partnership has already begun preparing for thousands of students to return this month.

As part of this annual tradition, the LSCP partners with NMU’s Center for Student Enrichment to manage Marquette County business and organization participation in Fall Fest, the annual welcome event for students

This year, Fall Fest will occur on Aug. 29. During that event, thousands of students are able to learn about local businesses, organizations, and ways they can connect with the community.

In addition, those businesses and organizations that participate are able to build connections to students resulting in significant revenue and opportunities to fill vacant staff positions. It’s a true win-win.

If your business or organization isn’t already signed up for a table at Fall Fest, you can do so by going to business.marquette.org/events/..

Although, Fall Fest is just the beginning of a student’s story at NMU. Once students settle in, NMU will continue to add a significant boost throughout Marquette County.

With an annual operating budget exceeding $100 million, NMU provides more than 1,100 jobs and educates over 7,000 students.

While the exact economic impact can be difficult to quantify (due to the way economic data is collected and classified), numerous studies confirm that academic institutions such as NMU see a significant spin-off of economic impacts in a community.

These impacts include new businesses and industries, quality of life enhancements, projects and services that benefit local communities, and creating emotional connections to an area that can last a lifetime.

Speaking of economic data, the LSCP team has also been hard at work completing the annual data booklet for Marquette County. The booklet helps us understand current and future trends for our economy and region.

LSCP’s director of Business Development, Mary Myers, will provide an overview of the 2021 data booklet during a free webinar at 11 am Tuesday.

To register, visit business.marquette.org/events/.

Finally, there has been a lot of movement lately in the judicial arena. A major decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour and require sick leave accrual for all employees.

While — as of now — those changes would not go into effect until February 2023, the LSCP continues to monitor the situation. Additionally, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that state civil rights protections extend to sexual orientation; we encourage businesses to check their personnel handbooks and ensure they’re aligned with the new ruling.

And last but not least, with the 2022 primaries behind us, Michigan is moving into the general election season. I don’t need to tell you these periods can often be divisive.

It is a good time to remind the community that the LSCP remains a nonpartisan organization that has traditionally brokered diverse coalitions to tackle our collective challenges.

We will proudly continue that tradition and look forward to working with officials across the political spectrum as we push forward with ongoing efforts to create a more prosperous Marquette County economy.

My offer to grab coffee, a snack, or to just sit down and talk about economic development is always available, so please reach out if that is of interest.

Editor’s note: Christopher Germain is CEO of the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

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