Conversations with Federal Reserve Bank

ESCANABA — Unique to our country the Federal Reserve System, the Central Bank, was created by Congress in 1913 charging it with a responsibility to foster a sound banking system and a healthy economy. Recently, President Neel Kashkari visited our community to conduct listening tours and host a Town Hall Forum.

The job of the Federal Reserve is to represent all of us, to know what’s happening in the economy and to bring that insight to Washington. Mr. Kashkari has been president of the Minneapolis Fed since January 2016. During his brief tenure, he has made it a priority each year to visit local communities in every state in the Minneapolis Fed’s Ninth District, which includes Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was his third visit to the U.P. and first to Escanaba.

While Mr. Kashkari visited, he met privately with tribal, business and community leaders. With Hannahville Tribal leaders, insights and opportunities and challenges facing the community were discussed and he was “very impressed with their business acumen, governance structure and focus on sustainable, long term economic development and approach to investing in education and human capital.” He toured and discussed manufacturing successes and challenges at EMP. Hard questions about the economy and interest rate hikes from business leaders and economic developers across region were explored at a listening session at Upper Peninsula Economic Development Alliance. Finding qualified workers, the job market, wages and housing were explored at Business Leaders for Michigan. The Upward Talent Council, Michigan Works! lead a roundtable discussion about workforce opportunities.

At the Town Hall Forum, economic development partners staffed information booths where attendees could get current loan and grant program information. USDA Rural Development, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Initiatives, Upward Talent Council Michigan Works!, Michigan Certified Development Corporation and Bay College provided expertise and resources to support economic development projects.

The Town Hall Forum is archived on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis website at:

/2IEFLXW. There, you may also sign up to receive news and research on our region’s economy and economic opportunity.

President Kashkari has been heralded for his stance on not wanting to raise interest rates, waiting for wage growth and the economy to pick up. He shared as the Federal Reserve sets monetary policy for the nation, learning about our community’s needs and priorities is vital. “The economic climate in the U.P. is strong, and community members shared concerns and identified opportunities for growth.”

We are grateful to sponsors Bay College, UPEDA, Business Leaders for Michigan, Delta County EDA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. A special thank you to Bay College President and Delta County EDA Board member Dr. Laura Coleman for moderating the Town Hall Forum.

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Vicki Schwab is the Executive Director of the Delta County EDA.