Dear Editor,

I am very concerned about how our money is being spent regarding tourism and economic development. There are four elements which are each on a different path: Marinette County, the City of Marinette, the M&M Chamber and inVenture North. InVenture North is a not for profit organization, which was a county-funded group called Marinette County Association for Business and Industry (MCABI). It was re-organized so as to better represent the region vs only the county

The county ended funding for MCABI in 2019. It commissioned a study as to what to do for Economic Development which named inVenture North as the solution, but the county did not follow the study’s recommendation. The county also ended an alliance with the City of Marinette and withdrew support for the Welcome Center that sees hundreds of visitors per season. In years past the Marinette County Tourism Alliance oversaw tourism promotion and how funds were spent. That authority was taken away, greatly reducing their effectiveness.

Since then, the above entities have been gearing up to operate independently, thus they will spend time and resources defending their turf and duplicating services — limiting how much they can accomplish. In the meantime, inVenture North staff has been out developing relationships, meeting with local businesses, business organizations working on issues such as housing, business retention and expansion and has developed a new tool to market the region as a whole. Not just to tourists, but this will serve as an invaluable tool for our community members as well. It will launch it this summer and serve both sides of the river.

My name is Wally Hitt, I worked for Marinette County University Extension for over 29 years and have been on Marinette City Council for four years and a member of MCABI/inVenture North for three years. My concern is about how we can best get our economy back on track. Money is tight, time is short and the need is great. We need to work together with one oversight board so that all efforts are coordinated to remove duplication.

As we head into summer (one of our busiest seasons of the year), and a new contract has been awarded to our communities largest employer, the time to collaborate is now. I want to encourage you to contact elected officials and request they collaborate versus wasting valuable tax dollars. There’s plenty of work to go around.

 

Wally Hitt

Marinette