A good trip

One of my favorite trips of the year is the Marquette County Ambassador’s Lansing trip. For decades, this group of business, education, community and government leaders from across the county have traveled to the State Capitol to meet with legislators and State department personnel.

The purpose of the trip is three fold: to inform our legislators and staff of relevant issues affecting the region, to hear their perspective on activities related to state government and share with them our position on critical issues and how they may affect the Upper Peninsula.

Our priority issues typically surround economic development, P-20 education, healthcare, talent and infrastructure. This year, the overarching theme was the need for a long term energy solution in the U.P., which can affect all of these.

The Ambassadors prepare for this trip for months. Key issues are researched and shared among members so all are well-versed for the meetings. Meetings are set up over a two day period with the governor, lieutenant governor, the U.P. delegation, key committee chairpersons and staff from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and the Michigan Public Service Commission, among others.

The Ambassadors then break down into groups of four to five and attend scheduled meetings. Each person we meet with is provided with a packet of information that outlines the topics we discussed and any action items we are requesting.

A highlight of the trip is a reception sponsored by the Ambassadors to allow for additional networking with elected officials, department staff and other Lansing friends of the U.P. Food and beverages include U.P. brewed beer, pasties and Doncker’scandies to provide a taste of our region.

Also, this year, we added a new twist to the trip. Working with the Delta County Task Force, we expanded our presence to two counties sharing a single voice on issues important to the Upper Peninsula.

We could not have anticipated the positive response we received from everyone we met with on this collaboration. Together our voice is much louder, not to mention the advantage of getting to know our colleagues only acounty away.

But the work doesn’t stop once we get back to Marquette County. The relationships we have built will not grow with only an annual visit. We must continue to communicate, be strategic with our requested actions and of course remember to say “thank you” to those who have assisted us in solving issues.

The Upper Peninsula is only 3 percent of the state’s population, so it is important that when possible we speak with a single voice for more impact. Many of the issues we face, such as energy or cell coverage, affect all areas of the U.P. making it easy to take similar positions.

The LSCP also has a Government Relations Task Force that meets monthly and monitors active legislation, makes recommendations on policy stands, surveys stakeholders regarding business concerns and provides opportunities to educate LSCP stakeholders on key candidates and issues. In addition, our collaboration with the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance helps to keep us on top of legislative activity affecting our local community.

For more information on the Marquette County Ambassadors or the legislative work done by the Lake Superior Community Partnership, check out www.marquette.org under the Business Resources tab.

Editor’s note: Amy Clickner is CEO?of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.