UP economy still recovers in pandemic aftermath

Record high tourism over the last year has brought more money into the area, but a lack of affordable housing is still preventing a full economic rebound.
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 7:43 PM EDT
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UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - Upper Michigan businesses are slowly rebounding in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The areas that are going to do the best coming out of the pandemic are those areas with really unique amenities,” InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante said.

InvestUP CEO Marty Fittante says tourism has skyrocketed in the U.P. ever since pandemic lockdowns were lifted and businesses reopened. This trend has yet to slow down.

Fittante thinks Upper Michigan’s natural beauty is what is bringing people in. “I would dare say there’s no better place for quality of life than the Upper Peninsula. When you look at the traffic that the Upper Peninsula saw in the midst of the pandemic it speaks to that,” Fittante said.

Fittante believes the high number of visitors spending money is helping the Upper Peninsula’s economy recover faster than others. “I was down in Lansing in that last three or four weeks and when you see what’s happened to their downtown and how they’ve struggled to come through versus how we’re doing actually I think we’re pretty fortunate everything considered,” Fittante said.

Lake Superior Community Partnership Business Development Director Mary Myers says despite strong tourism, U.P. businesses are doing average. “We’ve actually seen businesses stay pretty consistent they’re not doing bad and they’re not doing exceptional,” Myers said.

However, Myers says start-up businesses are being created across upper Michigan at a high rate. Another factor helping rebuild the post-pandemic economy. “We usually see between 10% to 15% of start-ups and that number has actually doubled, we saw 31% last year,” Myers said.

Fittante and Myers both have a positive outlook for the future of business developments and economic growth across Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula.

The widespread issue of affordable housing still remains, however, and each says this must be solved in order to bring and keep people in the U.P.

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