Bank president speaks at local university

HOUGHTON — The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis hosted a town hall about the region’s economy at Michigan Tech.

The Federal Reserve Bank is part of a bipartisan system created by Congressional law in 1913 with the responsibility to promote a reliable banking system and a healthy economy.

President Neel Kashkari explained what the bank does and then answered questions from the audience about local economics.

“The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis cares about the U.P. This is an important part of our region and we want to know what’s happening here on the ground, bring it back to Washington D.C. to affect policy-making at the national level.”

One notable trend in the Upper Peninsula’s economy includes high electricity costs, which makes it difficult for some businesses to stay afloat or even open up in the first place. Another issue involves the quality of the labor force but lack of jobs.

“I think one of the strengths here is the university and the highly educated workforce. There are a lot of people here who have the skills. We need to bring more jobs to the U.P. Some small businesses are doing well, but it’d be good to see more businesses started and take advantage of that high-quality labor that’s here.”

Kashkari said if more jobs open up for the skilled workforce in the area, then people who grew up here and left will find “an attractive place” to come back to and bring their families with them.