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      2014 Economic Outlook predicts positive changes for U.P.

      Economic growth was the topic during Thursday's Michigan Business Network event. The network covered six economic outlook series events in Midland, Traverse City, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit. Marquette was the final stop.

      Analysts and community partners laid out the results of the 2013 economic outlook of the U.P.

      Fresh talent topped the list of concerns for businesses.

      "Whether it's the public space or government, non-profit or business, all say that the top priority for 2014 is to attract and retain the best talent," said David Baker of CFI Group.

      Community partners plan to attract talent through internship programs at Michigan Tech and NMU. Retaining those fresh, young minds will mean more competitive pay to match other regions.

      Last year, the population in the U.P. increased by two percent, but community leaders say immigration is imperative to economic growth.

      "I think it's really important that no matter what we do to grow the area, we have to realize: number one, we have to grow to exist. You cannot be complacent," said Amy Clickner, CEO of Lake Superior Community Partnership.

      Clickner says there's room to expand the population in Marquette County, but economic growth doesn't have to mean big city infrastructures.

      "We have a lot of opportunities in exporting and things like that where businesses can expand services and can expand market territory without physically expanding their presence in the area as well," Clickner added.

      According to the Small Business Development Center, U.P. businesses tend to remain steady, not faltering too low or soaring too high, but plans for new talent and economic growth could make that the business frame of the past.