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      Township says big box was catalyst for growth

      Friday was a big day for Walmart and Marquette Township.While the super-chain store celebrated two decades in business the township celebrated a 60 percent growth to Marquette as a whole.

      This Walmart first opened on March 30, 1994 and Township officials say it marked the beginning of a better economy in the Marquette area.

      "We've been growing," stated Randy Girard, Marquette Township Manager. "Over the last 20 years we've averaged seven to ten percent growth every year."

      "Walmart was the catalyst for that," added Girard.

      Since Walmart opened 25 other businesses followed suit creating over 2,000 jobs.

      "The retail sector may not pay what the private sector does but it does provide the opportunity for spouses and children to remain in this area and keep their families in this area," explained Girard.

      More businesses are opening including Famous Footwear, a $10-million dollar movie theatre expected to open this summer, and the potential new location for Marquette General Hospital. Township officials are also looking at another $90 to $100-million in development just within the next year or two. Officials wouldn't name names but said it involves six companies, one with a sizable three-phase project.