Community faces positive economic outlook

MARQUETTE — The Lake Superior Community Partnership held its annual Economic Outlook Breakfast in Marquette Tuesday morning.

The gathering was held in part to hear preliminary results from the Michigan Future Business Index, a study which collects data from around a thousand businesses statewide to gauge how the economy is faring. The study has a lot of positive numbers so far.

“People are looking at doing more business, increasing profits, and just all around having a refreshing, good year in business,” said LSCP CEO Amy Clickner.

“Overall, everybody’s feeling extremely good about the economy — as a matter of fact, record numbers from all the years we’ve been doing this — they’re feeling very good about the prospects of driving revenue, revenue being higher, and of course profit, and profit is generally how we all exist, right?” said Chris Holman, CEO of the Michigan Business Network.

A falling unemployment rate in Marquette County — down 0.5 percent from last year — can be interpreted as a good sign for the area, but it also feeds into a labor skills–matching problem that affects the entire state.

“There’s good news with that, because it means more people are working, but there’s also a challenge with that, which means when you’re looking for workers, the pool is very, very small right now, and the skills may not be what you’re looking for,” Clickner said.

“In many cases — especially in the small business sector — if you can’t get qualified people, you’re not going to experience growth,” added Holman.

“You’ve got to look at it two ways: we have to train those that aren’t making the match. We have to encourage the young people that want to stay here to choose jobs that are here, and we have the ability to recruit people in our area, which is another great advantage,” said Clickner.