Superior Trade Zone marketing area

Jenny Lancour | Daily Press Members of the Superior Trade Zone meet at the Maple Ridge Township Hall in Rock on Tuesday to discuss a marketing strategy for the trade zone which is made up of municipalities from Delta and Marquette counties working together for economic development.

ROCK — The Superior Trade Zone (STZ), made up of municipalities from Delta and Marquette counties working together for economic development, continued to work on its first major project to develop a marketing strategy when members met Tuesday at the Maple Ridge Township Hall in Rock.

STZ members discussed a list of growing industries in the two-county zone via an audio conference call with Michael Stumpf of Place Dynamics LLC of New Berlin, Wis. The agency was hired last fall to help create a marketing plan for the trade zone.

The project is being funded by a $50,000 grant, which the Delta County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) assisted the STZ in obtaining from the Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program.

Stumpf presented a list of target industries in the region which he said have the best chances for growth and the potential to export products or services outside the trade zone.

Manufacturing industries made up the majority of the list such as wood processing including paper plants, veneer companies, and truss businesses. Fabricated metal products and machinery manufacturing are also growing industries, said Stumpf. Manufacturers also included transportation equipment, furniture making and food processing.

Growing small manufacturers which are producing products being exported out of the area include surgical instruments, recreational equipment, and toys and games, he said.

Outside the manufacturing industries, Stumpf cited additional growing businesses including transportation and logistics services, tourism-related services, and professional, scientific and technical services.

Other areas to consider in the marketing study were suggested Tuesday by Delta County EDA Executive Director Vicki Schwab. Data centers and call centers could prove to be target markets for the region, as well as increasing the use of the area’s waterways to ship products. She also said the region is attractive to individuals who work from computers in their homes.

Additional target industries to consider, as suggested by STZ members, included tourists and visitors who are making investments in local properties, 3-D printing technology, and expansion of broadband services.

Stumpf said he would work with Schwab and STZ Chairman Scott Erbisch to draft a list of targeted businesses and industries which could be included in the market study.

Stumpf said Place Dynamics is also looking into developing a video for the STZ website and television stations to advertise the trade zone and what it has to offer current businesses and future developers.

The STZ is one of seven Next Michigan Development Corporations approved by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to allow municipalities to use state tax incentives as a way to encourage new economic growth and expand present businesses which use multi-modes of transportation.

STZ members from Delta County represent the county, Gladstone, Escanaba, and the townships of Bark River, Ford River, Garden, Maple Ridge, Masonville, and Nahma.

STZ members from Marquette County represent the county, the city of Marquette, and the townships of Chocolay, Ewing, Forsyth, Humboldt, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Richmond and Wells. The city of Negaunee was added to the STZ membership at Tuesday’s meeting.

For more information about the local trade zone, contact Erbisch, Marquette County administrator, at (906) 225-8151.

In other business Tuesday, information on the Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) was presented by Brett French, vice-president of UPPCO’s Business Development and Communications.

UPPCO owns 4,469 miles of distribution lines and 58 substations which provide power to approximately 52,000 customers on 4,460 square miles in 10 U.P. counties, said French.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,