Page 4 - Upper Peninsula Business Today -- April 2018
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Jason Schneider, executive director of the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, speaks at the Tuesday grand opening of Ampersand Coworking, a business space for networking and cost- sharing at 132 W. Washington St., Marquette. Ampersand has private offices, semi-private desks and other amenities. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
Ampersand Holds Grand Opening
MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission has formally joined numerous community members and area officials by supporting the possibility of reopening Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.’s Empire Mine.
Following suit of the Marquette County Board of Commissioners — which unani- mously supported the idea in February — the city commission passed a resolution Monday, with all seven members in favor.
In August 2016, over 300 people lost their jobs after the Empire Mine ceased its opera- tions.
The idling of the mine has an annual nega- tive economic impact on the region of roughly $180 million, and restarting opera- tions would turn that around through the increase in commerce and economic prosper- ity in the region, the resolution states.
At the company’s annual breakfast held at the Holiday Inn in Marquette, Cliffs’ President, Chairman and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said his company is currently mulling over an expansion of its operations and considering possible locations in Michigan or Minnesota.
“The Empire is not operating, but the Empire is not dead — we can bring opera- tions back from idle, anytime we choose to do so,” Goncalves was quoted saying in a previous Journal article.
According to Goncalves, the mining operation in Minnesota would be less expensive than the Upper Peninsula option because the ore is closer to the surface. However, the permitting process in Minnesota could take up to five years.
Goncalves said the community’s feedback could potentially play a role in which state is chosen and expects the decision to be made by the end of the year.
Several people at the meeting, including Margaret Brumm of Marquette, endorsed the reopening of the mine, mostly due to its economic benefits.
“An Empire job is very tough, very dirty and very dangerous,” Brumm said. “It enables you to support yourself and a family, or in my case, it enabled me to earn enough money to pay for college.”
Brumm even brought a six-pack of local microbrewery beer to the meeting and asked that the commission made sure Cliffs offi- cials received the gift. Brumm said that since pasties from Lawry’s were offered previously, she wanted to also provide something local that complemented pasties and the area.
“You can never go wrong with a pasty and a six-pack,” she said.
Mayor Dave Campana thanked the public for their comments and Commissioner Paul Schloegel encouraged the public, or anyone who wishes to reassure Cliffs that its opera- tions are welcome in the area, to seek out an online petition, which can be found at tion/164/473/767/.
Coworking office only one of its kind in U.P
MARQUETTE — The culmination of fea- sibility studies, design, preliminary contracts and construction was celebrated Tuesday at the grand opening of Ampersand Coworking, the first and only coworking office in the Upper Peninsula.
Ampersand is located at 132 W. Washington St., Marquette, in the Masonic Building.
Jason Schneider, executive director of the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, was one of the driving forces behind Ampersand, which also is home to the chamber.
“It was in our original plans three years ago to do something like this,” Schneider said, “and it’s been a year of heavy lifting and about four months of construction to get this project off the ground and see it where it is today.”
At 5,200 square feet, Ampersand provides enough room for 50 people to work side by side. It has nine private offices, 15 semi-pri- vate desks and 25 open workstations avail- able to rent by the day, week, month or year.
Amenities include 24-hour access, internet, conference room use, free printing, beverages and snacks, and community programming.
Schneider said funding for Ampersand came from a variety of sources, including the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, the Upper Peninsula Masonic Association, the U.P. Catholic Credit Union, River Valley Bank, mBank, Honor Credit Union and Northern Initiatives.
Ampersand already seems to be popular in the business community.
Before the opening, 23 leases were signed for Ampersand space, said Schneider, who noted that currently all its small private offices are rented, with half the desks rented.
Schneider said there is space for about 30 more people, with a waiting list for the small offices.
business community through networking and cost-sharing, he said, with the chamber taking its traditional strengths and merging them into a form that’s more relevant to the new economy.
Nick Steffey, the chamber’s assistant direc- tor, soon will step into the role of interim executive director at the chamber following Schneider’s departure for a new out-of-state position.
“Really, really excited to see everyone mov- ing in,” Steffey said, with current renters ranging from a recent Northern Michigan University graduate specializing in graphic design to a kayak instructor with experience in voice-over work.
John Becker also rents space at Ampersand. “It’s been great so far,” Becker said. “I’ve been slowly integrating over the last month
or so as they finish with the buildout.” Becker, who has a background primarily in fundraising for arts and culture organiza- tions, is involved in a variety of enterprises, including running a statewide nonprofit that organizes speech and debate events for youth in Michigan. He also is one of the principal coordinators of the Ore to Shore Mountain
Bike Epic.
“I have about 17 different hats that I wear,”
Becker said.
In fact, it was his experience with arts and
culture that he said was his main connection to Ampersand, considering its relationship with the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.
“I thought this would be a great place to interact with a lot of other creatives and help other projects flourish,” Becker said.
He acknowledged he had worked at home before renting space at Ampersand.
“It’s just nice to have another place to go sometimes,” Becker said.
For more information, visit www.amper- sand
City Supports Reopening Of Empire Mine
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906-786-2021 Ext. 115
The chamber’s primary goal is help the

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