DOOM AND GLOOM. That’s the mood of many Cliff’s employees these days.
Why? Well, let us count the ways.
- They’ve been told by management that the Empire mine will close down permanently by August of next year. That means 350-400 workers will lose their jobs. Yeah, we’ve heard this before but this time, most are convinced it truly will happen because non-essential repairs aren’t being made, and there’s even talk of some sort of mine-closing party. And the iron ore industry is in the dumper.
- Huge iron ore producers from overseas are dumping their product in the U.S. at bargain basement prices, and Cliffs, a tiny player in the industry, simply can’t compete.
- Cliffs stock is now selling in the $2 a share range and showing no signs of life. Remember when it was $100? Couple that with enormous debt, and you have a company that seems to be on life support.
- Contract talks with Cliffs? Nothing going on apparently. Neither management nor the union are talking. The contract for the steelworkers expired a couple of months ago. They’re basically working week to week.
All that seems to add up to doom and gloom, but employees are doing their best to keep their heads up, work hard, not dwell on the negative, and hope for the best.
At least they’re still working, but they’ve never felt less secure. And bad news for them is very bad news for the central U.P.
HOW ABOUT SOME happier news, albeit on a much smaller scale?
A new specialty running shoe store will soon be opening up in that space in front of the Childrens Museum, right next to Dead River Coffee Roasters.
Likely this spring. The contract has been signed with the Children’s Museum which owns the building, and the space has already been gutted to make way for the new shop.
It used to house a massage facility.
That block on Baraga Street is developing some cachet. It’s home to the museum, the Marq, the Marquette Baking Company, Everyday Wines, Garden Bouquet, along with an assortment of other businesses, and soon, a niche running shoe store.
Downtown is stretching southward.
ONE OF THE advantages of the Internet age? You can locate just about anywhere you want–like in the lower level of Masonic Square in tiny Marquette, Michigan–and find clients for your business all over the world.
That’s exactly what Shelafoe Designs, a brand new graphic design firm, is doing.
It’s a mother-and-son operation–Gery and Mike Shelafoe–that has two other employees, and everybody is part-time at least for now.
Shelafoe has four clients so far, local and national, and they’re also talking to a potential client in England.
But seriously, what’s going on here? Shelafoe now joins Elegant Seagulls, La Dolce, re:think, MyWebMaestro, 7ninedesign, and others doing graphic design work in Marquette.
Looks like an increasing number of smart, forward-thinking people have decided Marquette might be a pretty good place to set up shop.
BY THE WAY, one of the men instrumental in getting Marquette’s Smartzone started is now branching out into….alcohol.
Like, whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, rye, you name it.
His name is Richard Anderson, a local Internet consulting whiz whose services have been requested all over the country but now he and his extended family have bought an abandoned 119 acre farm in downstate Manistee County.
They’re converting it to Iron Fish Distillery, a farm-based distillery and tasting room. There aren’t many of those in this country. Why locate it on the farm? Because it’ll allow them to control the entire alcohol-producing process from start to finish. They’ll grow most of the ingredients on site.
Ya gotta like that. Local, local, local.
And they’ve got more than good intentions and a little bit of cash. They’ve hired an award-winning distiller to direct the operation.
They’ll begin producing and selling this spring and they hope to open a tasting room and whiskey finishing facility in Marquette within three years.
ABC TEN’S INTERMITTENT and maddening signal problems should come to an end by January 1st.
That’s the word from news director Jerry Taylor. He says that’s when installation of fiber optic cable from the station’s transmitter should be completed.
Personnel changes, as well, for ABC 10. Danielle Davis has left the station after a two year run, and Chelsea Snyder, fresh out of Texas A&M, has been hired.
Welcome to the U.P., Chelsea, and no, this is not normal. We will soon be blanketed by white and surrounded by cold. Extreme cold.
By the way, reporter Sarah Mac is now anchoring the morning news in place of Davis.
THEY MAY NOT be lionized like local football and hockey squads, but local robotics teams have been making some noise at recent competitions.
That’s right, robotics teams.
In fact, one of them, the Robogators–consisting of North Star, Bothwell, and home-schooled middle schoolers–recently took third place in a regional competition in Petoskey. Third out of 22 teams.
That will send them to the state finals in Battle Creek later this month.
It’s a big deal.
In fact, robotics is becoming a big deal all over the U.P.–27 high school teams, 4 middle school teams, and several elementary squads who start out working with Legos. Which is where most of us lesser gifted individuals saw our engineering and technology careers come to an abrupt end.
Or maybe it was Tinker Toys.
In any case, the Robogators and their fellow competitors have advanced far beyond that.
Just don’t expect to see them on the sports page or in a parade anytime soon.
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