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Dickinson economy draws national attention

Progress 2020

When the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance welcomed 2020, we certainly did not anticipate where this year would take us.

As we all continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that it has created, we know that a solid economic development program is needed now more than ever before.

In the third year of our renewed economic development program, the Alliance actively supported our business community in the following ways:

— Assisted 223 businesses in the first five months of 2020.

— Researched and distributed countless programs and important information to our business community to assist with the pandemic impacts.

— Advocated for our businesses and communities to state and federal elected leaders on funding for rural U.P. hospitals and pandemic relief programs.

— Assisted 70 small businesses in applying for grant and loan funding through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

As an organization, the Alliance is fortunate to have been well prepared to assist in these ways during a difficult time. This crisis serves as a good reminder that our efforts in economic development over the last few years are essential and are now yielding fruit.

The Alliance leadership is an outstanding group of community and business leaders focused on working together to develop a strong network of resources. Our efforts have led to a fundamental shift in how economic development is approached in our community.

As we look forward to the economic recovery in the months ahead, we are pleased to bring several new projects forward this year.

In July, the Dickinson area will be featured in Business In Focus, a national business magazine. The Dickinson area was selected based on the area’s performance on the yearly Micropolitan Economic Strength rankings by independent research firm, Policom.

The Micropolitan Economic Strength rankings are a measure of the strength and quality of an area’s economy. The Iron Mountain MSA has risen to No. 80 on the list of 542 similar sized MSA’s across the country. Just five years ago, the Iron Mountain MSA ranked No. 206.

The sustained growth over this time-period captured the attention of Business In Focus magazine for a feature article that will be rolled out to 460,000 subscribers across North America and shared via the publisher’s social media network in early July.

The Dickinson County area, known as the Iron Mountain Micropolitan Statistical Area, encompasses the market area in and around the cities of Iron Mountain, Kingsford and Norway, including nearby areas in Wisconsin.

Last month, we kicked off a new marketing campaign — #KeepUPWorking. This campaign highlights the many employers who continue to hire and grow, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The #KeepUPWorking campaign also highlights the benefits of working and keeping the U.P. economy strong during a time of high unemployment.

Many Dickinson County area manufacturers are deemed essential, are actively hiring, and have put extensive safety measures in place to ensure safe workplaces. Additional campaign details and available job opportunities can be found on our website at https://daeda.org/keepupworking/.

Finally, the Loyal to Local program continues to raise awareness of the importance of supporting our local small-business community. In 2020, Loyal to Local launched a new web page highlighting the Loyal to Local participants that offer gift cards with information on how to purchase gift cards from these businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many small-businesses for a long period of time, and they need community support now to stay open. You can make a difference to our small-businesses by purchasing gift cards — as gifts for others, for employee recognition or for yourself for future use. Please go to https://daeda.org/loyal-to-local-gift-card-sales/.

As our community continues to find ways to meet the challenges of today’s business environment, the Alliance is here as a resource to support and assist. Thank you to the many Alliance volunteers who contribute their time and expertise as we continue to make meaningful progress in economic development.

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