Uppertunities: Revitalizing the econoomy in the Upper Peninsula

Upcoming conference enables Upper Peninsula community members to sharpen their skills and learn ways to take advantage of the positive economic impact of tourism.

The 2009 study An Economic Opportunity Study for the Michigan Upper Peninsula/Wisconsin Border Region examined the economic condition of Michigan’s 15 counties in its Upper Peninsula and two border counties in Wisconsin and the need to transform those economies and revitalize the area. The UPWard Initiative was formed to oversee the implementation of the report’s recommendations. The report identified seven pillars of economic development focus: natural resources, higher education, business growth and development, infrastructure, tourism, health care, education and workforce development.

Each pillar has a working committee to implement the strategies identified in the report. One of the action items for the tourism area was to convene a tourism summit. For the second year in a row, Michigan State University Extension is a partner to hosting this event. The 2013 Uppertunities – Tourism and Professional Development Conference will be held May 22 at the Island Resort just west of Escanaba, Mich.

Tourism in Michigan is a $17.7 billion industry and according to The Michigan Travel Commission generated nearly $1 billion in state tax revenue and supported nearly 200,000 jobs in 2011. The goal of the Uppertunities conference is to provide tools on topics such as customer service, social media, and marketing to rural areas in Michigan. In addition, information will be provided on topics related to management of the industry including risk management, affordable care act updates, and right-to-work updates.

One of the sessions will focus on the 2012-2017 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan. The development of the plan was facilitated by Dr. Sarah Nicholls, associate professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Studies at Michigan State University. The plan is “for the industry by the industry” and outlines a series of goals to continue to grow the tourism industry in Michigan.

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