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      Lakestate Industries expands into Marquette

      Lakestate Industries has served the Escanaba area for over 40 years and has now expanded into Marquette. They celebrated with a ribbon cutting Wednesday. Lakestate helps people with mental disabilities work in the community.

      All in a day's work...Lakestate allows nearby residents with mental disabilities, like Laura Knerva, to be productive and maximize their abilities.

      "I really enjoy it. I'm glad I got this job. You make good money and it's a lot of fun," said Laura.

      Officials invited the community to the ribbon cutting to commemorate the Marquette expansion. The non-profit organization offers many services, like janitorial and landscaping work, but at the Marquette facility, the focus is on making "Yooper Fire Starters" out of empty toilet paper rolls and shredded paper.

      They sort the paper colors, shred it, stuff the toilet paper rolls, then wax them and bag them. The sell their end product in packages of 10 in various businesses across the U.P. Staff members say helping their clients be productive is rewarding for the workers and themselves.

      "Everybody wants to go out and make money and earn for themselves. It's a very empowering feeling for not only the consumers, but also for us, as staff, to see that we are helping them. It's a great feeling. It's one of the reasons I do this job," said Lewis Strom, employment coordinator.

      Lakestate has about 50 clients in Marquette. Laura says teamwork is part of the job.

      "We all work together. If someone gets frustrated, we just ask for help and they help us. It's a wonderful place to work, I just want to say that right now," Laura said.

      Lakestate is always in need of more donations, including toilet paper rolls, candles for wax, and other materials. To learn how you can get involved or donate, visit the Lakestate Industries website.