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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From our readers

Issue Date: June 10, 2020

Dear Editor,

I am a small business owner, and I am scared. My revenue has fallen off a cliff. While I am worried about my ability to keep my own business open, honestly, I am as worried about what this means for the hundreds of small businesses that make up the fabric of our community.

One thing that the quarantine has crystalized for me is how much we all need social interaction " how much we need community. Our small businesses are the vehicle that provides much of that opportunity. We are incredibly lucky to have the diversity of businesses that we enjoy, but it is in jeopardy.

We are going to lose businesses, but we can start today to mitigate that. Well-meaning citizens can't do it by themselves. Industry must play a role. Government needs to play a role.

If you are in charge of purchasing anything at the company where you work, start sourcing the things that you are currently buying online at local businesses. If you are a supervisor, empower your employees to purchase everything they can from local businesses. Whether it is cleaning supplies or copy paper, buy it from a brick-and -mortar store in Marinette or Menominee Counties. This will take effort. It will take time. But, it will make the difference. As we lose more small businesses, it will hurt our giving to non-profits, the funding of municipal services, and support of local newspapers. It will make it even harder to recruit new workers

Take the example of what would happen if we lost our local newspapers. Locally-produced, independent news is crucial for civic engagement. We cannot take our newspapers and local radio for granted. In 2018, economists at The University of Illinois at Chicago presented a study that examined how local newspaper closures affect public finance outcomes for local governments. The conclusion is surprising: the cost to a community that loses its local paper is enormous, $650,000 per municipal issue. (For example, think about financing a project the size of the REC Center). Municipal borrowing costs increase with the lack of civic engagement because a project that is not planned and executed in the light of day is a risky project for a lender to finance.

If you don't have a subscription to the Eagle Herald, Peshtigo Times, or The Menominee County Journal, get one today. If you have a lobby at your office, purchase a second subscription for your customers in place of national magazine's subscriptions

This isn't about my bottom line or that of any particular locally-owned business. It is about preserving the opportunities we have in our great community. Saving it will require that each of us to do what we can.

Kim Brooks,

Wausaukee



Editor:

I am very concerned about how our money is being spent regarding tourism and economic development.  There are four elements which are each on a different path:  Marinette County, the City of Marinette, the M & M Chamber and inVenture North.  InVenture North is a not for profit organization, which was a county funded group called Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI).  It was re-organized so as to better represent the region vs only the county.

 The county ended funding for MCABI in 2019. It commissioned a study as to what to do for Economic Development which named inVenture North as the solution, but the county did not follow the study's recommendation.   The county also ended an alliance with the city of Marinette and withdrew support for the Welcome Center that sees hundreds of visitors per season.  In years past the Marinette County Tourism Alliance over saw tourism promotion and how funds were spent.  That authority was taken away, greatly reducing their effectiveness.  

Since then the above entities have been gearing up to operate independently, thus they will spend time and resources defending their turf and duplicating services"limiting how much they can accomplish. In the meantime, inVenture North staff has been out developing relationships, meeting with local businesses, business organizations working on issues such as housing, business retention and expansion and has developed a new tool to market the region as a whole.  Not just to tourists, but this will serve as an invaluable tool for our community members as well.  It will launch it this summer and serve both sides of the river.

 My name is Wally Hitt, I worked for Marinette County University Extension for over 29 years and have been on Marinette City Council for four years and a member of MCABI/inVenture North for three years.  My concern is about how we can best get our economy back on track.  Money is tight, time is short and the need is great.  We need to work together with one over sight board so that all efforts are coordinated to remove duplication.

 As we head into summer (one of our busiest seasons of the year), and a new contract is has been awarded to our communities largest employer, the time to collaborate is now.  I want to encourage you to contact elected officials and request they collaborate versus wasting valuable tax dollars.  There's plenty of work to go around. 

Wally Hitt,

Marinette


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