State legislators meet at MTU for economic roundtable conference

UP industry, education and community leaders proposed ideas for tackling economic challenges and growth with Lower Michigan
UP industry, education and community leaders proposed ideas for tackling economic challenges and growth in Lower Michigan.
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 7:26 PM EDT
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - Members of the Michigan State Legislature attended the first of a two-part economic roundtable at Michigan Tech University on Monday, July 25.

The roundtable was organized by Upper Peninsula State Sen. Ed McBroom and was joined by fellow state senators Ken Horn, Dan Lauwers, and Wayne Schmidt as well as State Representatives Sara Cambensy and Greg Markkanen.

UP industry, education and community leaders involved in the technology sector were invited to attend. These leaders presented ideas for how to handle challenges faced in local economic development.

“We needed them to hear it first-hand themselves,” said McBroom. “So they can help us advocate for better policy, better state economic investment, better connectivity with the downstate industries that depend on these natural resources.”

The Keweenaw Land Association and MTEC Smart Zone were among the participants.

Challenges presented included the recycling and acquisition of raw materials like nickel and relying more on electrical-based transportation.

Michigan Tech also participated with their own propositions such as the importance of funding computing and software.

“The future of everything we do, health-care, banking, entertainment is built on software,” said MTU Computing Dean Dennis Livesay. “And if Michigan is going to remain economically competitive at all, we have to focus on the computing professions just as much as much as we focus on those other domains.”

Legislators acknowledged the importance of these industries following the presentations.

“A lot of people forget that when we’re building cars and now moving into electric vehicles,” said 37th State District Sen. Wayne Schmidt. “The natural resources you need are mined here in the Upper Peninsula. And so it’s really highlighting both the natural resources we have up here, and also the academic and manufacturing base.”

The lawmakers will continue the roundtable on Tuesday, July 26 where the focus will be on lumber and mass-timber industries.

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