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Column: Slowly getting back to life before pandemic

ESCANABA — Will we ever get back to life as it was prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Slowly but surely we are moving towards more businesses reopening. Governor Whitmer stated she was looking to move the U.P. to phase 5 of the “Michigan Safe Start” process. We should see more businesses that have remained closed be able to open with safety guidelines in place. Businesses that have opened previously, should be able to expand the capacity of their business to serve more of their customers. If the trend of the low number of cases of COVID-19 in U.P. continues, we should be able to move to the last stage of the process at some point. I know we are all excited to get to that point in the future.

I find myself thinking of what life was like last year at this time. Playing in as many golf fundraisers as my schedule, budget and wife would permit. Attending meetings in person and actually talking to people in the same room. Going to “Business After Hours” the last Wednesday of the month and networking with the many of my business colleagues. Participating in charitable activities that made the area a better place to live. My family and friends have always gotten together to celebrate birthdays, Father’s and Mother’s Day and just about any excuse to get together. Having a little time to do a short trip in the car for shopping, go watch a game or visits friends. I am sure you all miss those activities as much as I do.

We should soon have the opportunity to start going to events. Many of the charities that hold fundraising events have been hit very hard financially during the pandemic. Make a point to try to participate in events that will help many of our charitable organizations during the rest of the year. We will continue to see signs of things moving closer to the previous norms. The sales of tickets for the U.P. State Fair grandstand entertainment, parked cars in front of businesses and more outdoor activities. I hope we will at some point be able to see our community baseball/softball teams starting playing. Soon we will hear plans of what the next year of school instruction will look like for our kids. Our school administrators and teachers did a great job to finish this school year under so much adversity. I hope everything falls into place for our kids and school employees to get back to some sort of norm during the next school year.

The economy has been hit very hard in our area. Very high levels of unemployment, concerns some of our small businesses may not reopen and many of the jobs that where temporarily lost, could become permanent loses. We do have reason for optimism as we move into summer. Restrictions are easing, the weather is getting nice and we should see tourists travel to our beautiful U.P. We need to be careful as we balance the safety of our visitors, citizens and employees. I think safeguards that some will say might be over the top will be common place no matter what state you visit. These will be some of the changes that we will have to incorporate into every day life. Remember to do our best everyday to move forward and we will get back to a new normal as soon as possible.

I also want to thank Kel Smyth for his many years of service on the city of Escanaba’s planning commission. He resigned recently to let our elected officials know his displeasure of their handling of a local developmental opportunity. Not many people are willing to make changes of this magnitude to send their message. Kel, thanks for your commitment to make our area better.

Enjoy the start of summer.

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Ed Legault is the Delta County Economic Development Alliance director.

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