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      Central Upper Michigan: A diversified economy

      When you think of the central U.P. it's all about our natural resources, which brings in millions of dollars to the area.

      "It sometimes gets discarded too quickly as being not good paying jobs. We have some very wealthy people that made their money in the tourism industry and we have some very good jobs," said Joel Schultz, Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

      Schultz says our natural resources are the foundation that created the region through mining of Iron Ore and Logging.

      Mining still plays a significant role in the region's economy with close to 2,000 employees working at Cliffs Natural Resources and Lundin Mining. He says our economy is slowly growing, but healthcare is the leader in growth.

      "Wages are increasing. There's entry-level all the way up to Doctor level. It has the career challenge that you hire someone at one level, but they fairly quickly have the opportunity to get an education to step up to the next level," Schultz said.

      Across the central U.P. around 6,400 people work in Hospitals, medical centers, hospice care and the medical field. Manufacturing is also a major employer with around 230 companies employing more than 6,500 from the region.

      Even though economic growth has been slow throughout the years Schultz says he's noticing more and more small businesses opening up. There's been a push for people creating their own income opportunities now a majority of small businesses are retail, service, or product related.

      "We started down the path of designing a specific ice machine to reduce energy consumption and found out there was big need out there to provide and ice machine on a monthly basis," said Mark Hangen, CEO Easy Ice.

      Tawni Ferrarini an Economics professor at NMU says it's really about creating a product or service in which you can go global with.

      "It is about drawing new dollars to the area so that we can increase the size of the economy here. As we increase the size of the economy you gain more wealth and health," said Ferrarini.

      She says while natural resources play a big part in the areas economy future growth will rely more on people creating their own business servicing others outside of the Upper Michigan.

      Want to know about the economy of the western Upper Peninsula? Check out part one in our series here.