Munising is being squeezed by the pandemic
“I’M TRYING TO stay optimistic but it’s getting harder every day.”
The words of Tom Dolaskie, the co-owner of the Roam Inn, Tracey’s, Eh Burger, and a few other businesses in Munising. He and his partner have spent a lot of money, time and energy helping to build up the Munising business community in the last few years, but now this: a shutdown of the businesses just as we’re getting ready for the tourist season.
Munising lives or dies with the tourist business in the summer, even more so than in Marquette.
Will Tracey’s be able to open at only 25% capacity, if that’s what the state mandates? Dolaskie says no, they’d lose money. How about 50% capacity? Maybe.
How about the Roam Inn? Once the state mandates are eased, can it make it? Maybe. It all depends on whether visitors will want to vacation in the Upper Peninsula this summer. Or for that matter, whether they’ll have enough money to take a vacation.
Dolaskie says he’s confident their businesses will make it because they’re reasonably well-funded, but he worries about others in Munising. Could 25% of them go under before this pandemic dies down?
“I think that’s a fair estimate,” Dolaskie says with a sigh. “And maybe that number is conservative.”
Will the kayakers and campers come back?
A MORE OPTIMISTIC outlook from Bill Duckwall, the owner of Uncle Ducky’s, which operates kayaking tours, campgrounds and a restaurant in Alger County.
“We’re feeling pretty confident because most of our business is outdoors–in the kayaks and the campgrounds–where there’s good spacing between people,” he says. “We think they’ll feel safe.”
Prior to the pandemic, reservations had been up for the summer. Now, prospects are more uncertain. It all depends on the infection numbers in the next couple of months and the orders from Governor Whitmer. The hope is, she’ll recognize that the infection rate is relatively low in the U.P., and she’ll loosen the restrictions up here.
(On the other hand, some in the U.P. worry about an influx of visitors from downstate and other cities where the infection rate is higher.)
In any case, Duckwall is maintaining his optimism. “We don’t really get started here until the last week in June, so there’s still plenty of time.”
No time to rest for the bankers
WHILE THE UNEMPLOYMENT numbers soar and many of us are stuck at home twiddling our thumbs, that’s not the case with most in the banking industry.
“We’re busier than ever with the COVID relief programs, deferrals of loans, and other business just serving our customers,” says Ashley Cody, the market vice president in Marquette for Incredible Bank.
Payroll Protection Program loans have been a huge chunk of the business. Incredible Bank did $162 million in PPP loans in nine days until the federal money gave out. A second phase of PPP is now underway.
Mortgage business has been active as well, Cody says, because interest rates are so low, and springtime is generally the start of the buying and selling season–even in a year as unusual as this.
And deferrals? Are borrowers who are under financial stress asking for relief? Cody says yes, and the bank is talking to their customers on a case-by-case basis. Thirty, 60, and 90 day deferrals are being discussed.
It’s a busy time for bankers, a nervous time for borrowers.
Marquette doesn’t rate all that high
MARQUETTE IS THE 70th safest town in the state of Michigan.
That’s according to Safewise which compiles these figures for all fifty states. The survey considers both violent and property crimes.
Seventieth doesn’t sound all that impressive, especially for most of us who consider this to be a safe town, but it does place us in the top 35%. More than 200 cities and townships were included.
Number one on the list is Oakland Township downstate with a violent crime rate of .4 per 1000 residents. Property crime rate is 1.2.
Number two on the list is our neighbor to the southwest, Iron Mountain. Violent crime there is .4, property crime is 1.2.
Chocolay Township is #25 with rates of 1.2 and 3.5
Marquette at #70 has rates of 1.1 and 9.9.
Ishpeming comes in at #101 with rates of 2.9 and 11.6.
At the bottom of the list is Muskegon Heights with rates of 22.4 and 58.8.