New EDC in Baraga takes slow approach

BARAGA — Still in its growing stage, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Baraga County recently added Steve Koski and Roy Kemppainen as new members to its board.

Board chairman Mark Massicotte said the board consists of about eight member, with some leaving and the two newcomers. He said the board is still relatively new, less than two years old.

The EDC works to improve the success of the community by partnering with surrounding communities and organizations. With the fairly new board, the group is taking its time to embark on large initiatives, Massicotte said.

“We’re in a building mode, so we’re looking to take small steps toward community improvement and involvement,” he said. “One of our roles is to review and define the strategic approach for economic development in Baraga County.”

The EDC has collaborative efforts with different counties and organizations to help with the improvements. Some of those include: Houghton County, Marquette County, Michigan Works, Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Development Center.

Massicotte said he couldn’t go into detail about the projects within the collaborations, because they are private sectors and dealings.

Massicotte said they are looking to open up collaborative narratives with Ontonagon.

He said the EDC is interested in working with the Ontonagon because of the “similar economic model” of both areas. With the shared interests between the two counties, it makes sense to work together.

The EDC is currently looking at changing the attitude of the community and making it more receptive to current issues regarding economic development.

Massicotte said one of the challenges the Baraga EDC has is getting local governments and municipalities to adapt to the changes.

“The past is sometimes given more priority than the future,” he said.

He wants the community to look forward and see the work toward progression.

“Over the last year Baraga County has worked hard to build itself to work toward success,” said Massicotte.

The EDC is trying to maximize the success of the local businesses and how they interact with the community.

“We’re reviewing pillars for success, organizing around the community’s needs, looking at retention and building from there,” said Massicotte.

He said this is an exciting time for the young EDC.

“We can’t go fast enough and wish we had better resources. We’re getting organized and staying focused.”

They are grateful for the continued support from the community.

“We have a very strong community and support that is encouraging. It’s part of the pleasure of what we get to do,” said Massicotte.