Economic Club of Marquette County to hold celebration
By CHRISTIE BLECK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — Its dinner speakers have included heads of industry and top-ranking government officials.
However, the Economic Club of Marquette County also has provided a means for local residents to network and for people outside the region to be introduced to the Upper Peninsula.
The club is celebrating its 40th season this year, having been formed in 1977 with 135 members. This year, membership totaled 172.
Its annual slate of speakers, who talk about a variety of topics at the Ramada Inn, is a big draw.
This season kicks off Sept. 18 with Dina Temple-Raston, counterterrorism correspondent for National Public Radio.
Karen Dubow, a member of the 2017-18 board of directors who assists the club, said: “We think it’s a pretty exciting and dynamic group that we have coming, especially focusing on our fortieth year. We really tried to find some keynote people.”
The 2017-18 speakers are: in October, Thomas Frey, futurist with the DaVinci Institute; November, Lewis Koski, marijuana consultant with Colorado Connections; December, Nancy Lyons, CEO and entrepreneur with Clockworks; January, Charles Ballard, Michigan State University economist; February, Phillip Gardner, Millennials Young People, MSU; March, Dan Musser III, president of the Grand Hotel; and April, Brian Sinotte, CEO of UP Health System.
The club, however, is more than evening dinner programs.
“What we’re hearing from members is it’s a great way to network,” program chair Tom Baldini said. “We have a social hour at 5:30. We have dinner than at 6:30 and then the program at 7:30.”
How the Ramada Inn table set-up is configured also helps with networking.
“We have circle tables, round tables, purposely so people can talk to one another,” Baldini said.
The original purpose of the club, as stated in 1977, was: “to inform people what is happening along economic lines in Marquette County and provide opportunities for persons to meet and become aware of each other.”
Its current purpose runs along the lines of “knowledge, networking and inspiration” — helping people access community leaders with specialized economic knowledge, connect with a diverse group of people involved in developing the region and share their enthusiasm in the county.
Don Ryan, a past economic club president who was a charter member, along with Baldini, was there at the start.
“It was really formed as a place for networking and provide a forum, if you needed one, to talk about issues in the local area,” Ryan said.
The club was created to bring together leading people from business, industry, institutions like Northern Michigan University and the government, said Ryan, who noted the third aspect was to put on quality programs that would educate people.
“It was started, really, to be a place for people to come and maybe provide background and information about some current issue in the area — mining, not too much forestry here, but some of that.”
Ryan and Baldini said the club tries to keep its programs non-partisan. In fact, Baldini noted past speakers have included former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and present Gov. Rick Snyder.
A program committee develops programs, and in fact is working toward the 2018-19 season.
“What do we think will be current?” Baldini asked. “What will the members want to hear?”
Ryan has seen some changes over the club’s 40 years.
“I think in the early years we had, like, two women members,” Ryan said. “Not that we didn’t want them, but they just weren’t involved in positions where they would want to be involved.”
That’s not the case anymore, with a number of women serving on the 2017-18 board of directors.
The club also can benefit the region.
“I see it as an opportunity to bring people here,” Baldini said. “One, to tell us what they see going on, but at the same time, to introduce them to the U.P.”
Regular club memberships are $275 per year, which covers the cost of all eight dinner meetings. If a member is unable to attend, another person may take his or her place. Corporate memberships with two or more people are $250 per person while a couples membership is $500. The cost of an associate membership is $110 plus $35 per meal when attending meetings.
Non-members are invited to attend dinner meetings for $40 per person. Reservations may be made by calling 906-315-2155 or visiting www.marquetteeconomicclub.org.
Checks may be made payable to the club and mailed to 412 W. Washington St., Marquette, MI 49855. People also can join by clicking on the “Join the Club” tab at www.marquetteeconomicclub.org or calling 906-315-2155 and leaving a message for a returned call.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.