ISHPEMING TWP. — A town hall meeting was held tonight in Ishpeming Township regarding Project Empire, an initiative hoping to bring assistance from state and federal programs in response to the indefinite idle of the Empire Mine.
State response teams, such as the Michigan Talent of Economic Development Department met with community members to address both short term needs along with long-term goals, dealing with the closing of the mine. Input is also being asked from local leaders on how they can assist with creating more jobs locally or finding educational resources for the workers.
“Well one of the things that I’m looking at is working with our educational leaders in the community through Michigan Works and through the Talent Investment Agency, we’ve identified and working with employers openings that they have and then what skills are needed for those openings,” said State of Michigan Talent & Economic Development Communications Director, Dave Murray.
The main focus of the meeting was hearing citizens ideas on possible solutions for the community. While some citizens voiced concerns of flocks of people leaving the area to find work elsewhere, others thought of unique ways to use the land that the mine currently lies on.
“I believe we don’t have to let this die, I’m going to speak about turning this into a four season Midwest recreational, vacation area. You can have ski hills; cross country, down hill, horseback,” said Concerned Negaunee Citizen, Mike Carriere.
Although the citizens including laid off workers are hearing support from various state agencies, a major concern is the timeline for this assistance. One previous worker voiced their fear of running out of unemployment benefits before finding another job.
Murray mentioned that the state is currently in its informational gathering stages and will likely have future similar town hall meetings.