News from Sarah Lucas and Lake Superior Community Partnership, sharing the U.P. Perspective:
As we wrap up 2021 and reflect on our year, one thing is clear - in 2021, there was no such thing as business as usual.
Every business, family, and community organization spent 2021 adapting to the constant change that’s been a hallmark of the last two years, and the Lake Superior Community Partnership was no exception. In fact, there was more than most at the LSCP, which began the year with the retirement of the LSCP’s long-serving - and first! - CEO, Amy Clickner.
I started my role as the CEO of the LSCP in late February this year, when the world was still virtual and vaccines were on the horizon. Things have moved fast: since then, restrictions have been lifted on businesses, much of the world has returned to “in person” status, and the economic recovery gave us all whiplash as we went from record unemployment to labor shortages, from tightened budgets and reduced spending to record demand for goods and services.
Meanwhile, the LSCP carried on, though it certainly wasn’t an ordinary year.
With economic upheaval from COVID continuing to change business needs and opportunities throughout 2021, the demand for LSCP’s services was stronger than any recent year (2020 excluded): LSCP served over 630 clients, providing help with business planning and resources on new funding programs, market data, and advocacy needs.
And, despite the challenges of event planning in 2021, the LSCP worked around changes in protocol, with the Annual Celebration, Marquette County Ambassadors “trips to Lansing” and other events going virtual successfully, while our golf outing and the Lake Superior Leadership Academy were back in person. We were also able to continue our online learning opportunities, and added in new virtual events like the Housing Solutions Summit.
Throughout the year, we connected with local leaders, legislators, and advocates to ensure Marquette’s voice was being heard. We worked with partners to find regional solutions to some of the region’s most challenging economic needs, like workforce, infrastructure, housing, childcare, and broadband, all of which were exacerbated by the pandemic. And together, we advocated for investments in solutions to these issues at the state level, with the unprecedented opportunities presented by new state and federal funding.
As we navigated these new economic and operational realities, the LSCP developed a strategic plan that would provide some guidance and focus for the organization, helping us to take stock of everything that’s happened, and what’s coming up. Already, we’re taking action on our strategic goals around collaboration and governance, building new partnerships, and growing our organizational capacity. The strategic plan also helped guide one of our big decisions this year, to move from the LSCP’s longtime home on Front Street to a new space downtown, which will offer important opportunities for coordination between Marquette County’s economic development organizations.
While all the change over the last two years hasn’t necessarily been easy, in the case of the LSCP, it’s proven one of our greatest strengths: the flexibility and adaptability that allows us to respond to crisis and change in order to support our community. This comes from a long history of adapting to new economic circumstances, from the forward-looking mindset of the LSCP’s board, and most importantly
from the dedication, passion, and knowledge of our staff, who have remained steadfast and positive throughout the rollercoaster ride that was 2021. As we look towards 2022, we can expect a lot more change; but we can also expect the LSCP to rise to the challenges and the opportunities before us.