U.P. city managers talk energy, economic development

MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula city and village managers from the U.P. say energy is one of the two main challenges the region faces with regard to economic development.

Managers gathered for a free public discussion elsewhere on the NMU campus right after a U.P. Energy Forum.

Norway’s city manager told the room that their city saw electricity as a problem for the region in 2003 and tried to address it back then.

“One of the areas that we looked at was the load in the U.P.,” Norway city manager Ray Anderson said. “We said, ‘hey, I think we need, up in the U.P., we need to have our own generation’. We proposed at the time somewhere between a 300 to 500-megawatt power plant.”

Norway looked at both investing in the plant itself so that it would be city-owned and finding outside investors.  Both of those efforts failed.

“In economic development, the two major issues are energy and work force, and taxes aren’t talked about,” Anderson said. “The Lower Peninsula folks are really looking at this issue up here now seriously, and that’s good for us.”

The NMU Master’s of Public Administration program hosted the managers forum.  Students who could not attend the forum in person also participated by video conference.

Several city and village managers from communities in the Lower Peninsula were also on hand for the panel discussion.