A BIG COUP for Marquette.
UPPCO, which was sold last year by the Chicago-based Integrys Energy Group, will be locating its new headquarters in Marquette. Specifically, at an office complex on Harbor Hills Road, just up the road from Econo Foods.
We don’t have many headquarters here so this is a pretty big deal–30-35 new employees for a company that provides power to 52,000 customers in ten U.P. counties.
UPPCO would’ve preferred to build a new office but they didn’t have the time, so they relied on the Lake Superior Community Partnership to scope out the available properties and expedite the process.
The Partnership sometimes gets criticized for seemingly not doing enough to attract business to Marquette County. Here’s a case where their work paid off. Marquette is the beneficiary.
UPPCO, meantime, is waiting for its furniture to arrive and is hoping to occupy the building by the end of the month.
Welcome to town.
IF YOU’VE BEEN wondering about the land being leveled and prepared for construction on Wright Street, just north of the America Mall, it’ll soon be the new location for Peak Fitness and Gymnastics.
Peak is currently located in another facility on Wright Street but it’s only 5000 square feet. The new gym will be 15,000 square feet to accommodate more equipment and more classes.
Peak has been in business for two and a half years and has simply outgrown its old facility.
And no, this is not a regular fitness gym. It features classes and competitive teams in gymnastics, weightlifting, cheerleading, and aerial silks and Lyra (that’s some of the cool stuff you see in Cirque du Soleil).
They’re hoping to move in to their new digs by September.
A HINT OF political intrigue in Lansing, and it has a direct bearing on us here in the U.P.
State Senator Tom Casperson and State Representative John Kivela have been working together on a couple of “dark store” bills for the last couple of months, getting them vetted for constitutionality and for their effectiveness in generating tax revenue.
The bills are aimed at softening the effects of Tax Tribunal rulings that allow thriving box stores to be taxed at the same rate as closed-down, abandoned box stores. The rulings have grossly reduced tax revenues for some communities here in Marquette County and are having an impact on community services.
So Kivela, a Democrat, and Casperson, a Republican, have been very publicly going through the tedious process of getting their bipartisan legislation crafted just right in hopes of getting it introduced to both houses in the next week or two.
But then, without notifying his two U.P. colleagues, neighboring State Representative Scott Dianda, a Democrat, introduced his own “dark store” legislation last week.
A very different kind of bill. It would impose user fees on those businesses that get huge cuts in their property tax from the Tax Tribunal. Dianda says his bill would provide immediate relief to cities needing tax revenue whereas the Kivela-Casperson bills would be more geared to the future. Sounds good and he sees no conflict between them.
It’s not quite clear, though, why he didn’t inform his fellow U.P. legislators of his intentions. Aren’t they supposed to be working together?
Some also question whether Dianda’s bill, which already has five co-sponsors, is constitutional.
We’ll see where this goes. You’d certainly like to see the U.P. delegation united on this issue. Some fear the different bills may actually jeopardize the passage of any bill on the “dark stores.”
And of course the cynic in us has to wonder whether there’s some political gamesmanship taking place here–politicians gearing up for the upcoming State Senate and Congressional races.
LUNDIN MINING WAS justifiably thrilled to announce last week that it had discovered another spot near the Eagle Mine that appeared rich with nickel and copper deposits. It likely means more mining, more money, and more jobs in Marquette County.
However, the news for Lundin was a little gloomier several thousand miles south of Marquette.
Like, in Chile.
The environmental regulator for Chile announced that he was filing charges against Lundin for alleged environmental violations at its Candelaria copper mine in the Atacama region.
Sixteen breaches of regulations, all told, nine of them described as “very serious.”
Among them: Failing to reduce consumption of fresh water from the area, and causing continuing damage to the groundwater from the Copiapo River.
Lundin’s been ordered to come up with a plan to correct the problems.
If the new discovery in Marquette County is as rich as it seems, the company should have no problem paying for any improvements or fines in Chile.
Question of the Day: Couldn’t we just build a fence around the Middle East, along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, post No Trespassing signs all around, and then let them duke it out?
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