Column: We have so much to be thankful for

ESCANABA — Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Based on the fact that for many years I didn’t live in the area, I almost always made it home for Thanksgiving. I have many fond memories getting together on Wednesday night with many friends that also either came back to the area for the extended weekend or were fortunate enough to not have moved away. Too many funny stories from those days, thank God there weren’t smart phones yet. Then we would get together with many of my relatives in the U.P. and spend the Thanksgiving Day together. The day consisted of eating, playing cards, watching football, telling stories and singing old family favorite songs while having a few liquid refreshments. The rest of the trip was spent catching up with my family, before having to drive back to Milwaukee, Kansas City, New Jersey or St. Louis depending which of the 33 years I was living elsewhere. But the travel was always worth it!

It is so much easier not having to travel to see everyone. The gatherings aren’t as large as the used to be, but every bit as fun. This week we had a few great family events in the area. We had “Black Friday on Tuesday” in Escanaba as well as the annual tree lighting at the DDA’s Center Court. A great time and I know the kids had fun. The Gladstone DDA hosted their “Old Fashioned Christmas” event with their tree lighting. These type of events are what our kids and grandkids will remember when they look back at the Thanksgiving holiday. Shortly we will move the calendar to December and will be into many Christmas events throughout Delta County. Another thing I have always been thankful for is the generosity of our communities, businesses and citizens. Giving their time, treasure or both to help people that are less fortunate than they are. Making sure everyone has an opportunity to get a great Thanksgiving meal, some presents for their families or other assistance they need to get through tough times. It is great to focus on the area’s generous giving during the holidays, but in the UP this mindset happens all year round. If there is a situation, the first thing you hear is “How can I help”

Looking back on the last few years we have much to be thankful for and look forward with optimism to the new year. We have slowly been moving out of pandemic issues that have hurt our families, businesses and economy. We have many jobs that are open in the UP, that will allow anyone looking to improve their situation or move back top the area that opportunity. Make sure ask family members that might be interested in moving back for a better standard of living, what it would take to make that decision. We have many opportunities in manufacturing, health care, retail, hospitality, professional office positions, skilled trades, education and it is a great place to open your business. Another option for some people is the opportunity to work remotely. Many companies have learned they can be very effective without being co-located. Delta County is the best place to live, work and play year round. There are many projects that are picking up steam and will become a reality in 2023.

We will see progress on the waterfront project in downtown Escanaba, as well as the North Shore project in Gladstone. These types of projects will be catalyst to further expansion and investment into the area. Our local leaders will be busy, but we will see the progress from their hard work. 

I want to recognize a few area leaders. Best wishes to former City Manager Patrick Jordan as he transitions to his new opportunity in Ionia County. Congratulations to James McNeil as the new interim Escanaba City Manager and Craig Woerpel as the new Escanaba DDA executive director. I know both men will be instrumental in making positive changes to the area with our support. 

I hope you have had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving!

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Ed Legault is executive director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance


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