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      Senate Economic Development Meeting

      Industry leaders spoke Thursday about the impact their industries have had, not just on the Upper Peninsula, but on Michigan and the nation as a whole.

      Michigan Forest Products Council spokesperson Abigail Walls said, "We're trying to be smarter, leaner, swifter as an industry, and smarter means collaborating and working together with all of the interested parties, not just within our own industry."

      The Senate Economic Development Committee says that's how the U.P. can help Michigan's economy--by creating better and more jobs. The purpose of Senate Bills 397 and 398 is to create businesses so that jobs and families can stay here in the U.P.

      Senator Tom Casperson (R) said, "The goal of the bills is to set the stage so that we have a climate that's welcomed by business, and they can see that, and then to help market that climate." The committee noted that natural resources, such as water, timber and iron ore, are already here. But the two largest U.P. counties need to row their boats in the same direction.

      Senator Casperson added, "When you look at Marquette and Escanaba; when you look at our port opportunities, we have the rail opportunities that are already here in place. We need to grow and expand them."

      The committee said it's important neither county work in a silo or compete with one another.

      Casperson said Lansing worked hard to promote a vibrant base in the U.P. to uphold its share of the economic strength of the enitre state of Michigan. He cited the Pure Michigan campaign, which can be seen on television commercials from New York to Seattle, promoting U.P. tourism.

      "The whole concept behind this is to really market ourselves, but to help give our local communities, in this case Marquette and Escanaba, the tools they need to set the stage, really, for business to come into our communities," Casperson said.