The Upper Peninsula: A one-of-a-kind Pure Michigan destination

By Jordan Kennedy

Every year, millions of people from around the world visit Michigan to take in our natural resources and enjoy our countless seasonal in and outdoor activities. Our state has experienced an incredible comeback, and places like the Upper Peninsula have played a significant role in bolstering our state’s economic development and tourism industry, posturing Michigan for a better and brighter future.

Last week, the Governor and First Lady traveled to the U.P. to highlight the incredible work being done by Michiganders across the region while taking time to enjoy some Pure Michigan winter activities.

U.P. Energy Summit

The Governor’s first stop was at the U.P. Energy Summit, where he highlighted recent statewide energy policy reforms and what those changes mean for the Upper Peninsula. Now that these reforms are in place, the U.P. and the entire state will be able to meet its energy needs while protecting our environment and saving Michiganders millions on their energy bills.

The Governor also touted the U.P. as being a regional leader in renewable energy, and encouraged ongoing collaboration to make the U.P. even more energy efficient in the years ahead.

U.P. Young Professionals

Next, the Governor met with young professionals in Marquette and across the U.P. to discuss their important role in Michigan’s future.

During his recent State of the State address, Gov. Snyder set goals to increase Michigan’s population to 10 million people by the end of 2020. Strengthening our economy while attracting talent to our state is critical in meeting this goal, and young professionals play an important role. The Governor encouraged young people in the U.P. to continue working together to promote a broader strategy for success in Michigan.

Building the 21st Century Economy Commission tour stop

The Governor also offered remarks to attendees at the Building the 21st Century Economy Commission tour stop to discuss the importance of establishing a strategy for economic growth that will help new and existing industries thrive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The Commission has been charged with setting goals and establishing metrics to measure Michigan’s economic success, identify the potential for new industry growth, develop strategies to support existing industry, and make recommendations that will distinguish the state as a center for innovation.

U.P. 200 Sled Dog Championships

The U.P. 200 Sled Dog Championship is a long-standing tradition that draws thousands from across the country to participate and observe a competition that tests the strength and endurance of both dogs and mushers.

The city of Marquette serves as the start and finish location for the race, which trails 200 miles of the U.P. The U.P. 200 is one of the top 12-dog mid-distance races in the Midwest, as well as being an Iditarod qualifier.

The Governor and First Lady had the opportunity to help kick off the race and welcome nearly 10,000 spectators who gather annually to observe the competition. While waiting for the races to start, the Governor and First Lady got the chance to meet with some of the race participants — both humans and dogs.

After the races began, Marquette was buzzing with activity — from busy stores and shops to restaurants and breweries, people everywhere gathered to commemorate one of northern Michigan’s largest winter traditions.

Exploring Pure Michigan

The Governor and First Lady also had the opportunity to enjoy some outdoor Pure Michigan winter activities, including a visit to the ice curtains in Munising and a ride on a U.S. Coast Guard ice breaking ship in Escanaba.

Munising has quickly become a hotspot for ice climbers looking for a challenging, one-of-a-kind experience. Located just off the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore, the ice formations develop as water trickles over the sandstone and freezes. The results are beautiful ice formations that provide exciting opportunities for ice climbers and breathtaking views for onlookers.

The Governor and First Lady also toured a U.S. Coast Guard ice breaking ship docked in the Little Bay de Noc in Escanaba. The ship’s captains gave an overview of the vessel and discussed how important ice breaking is — especially in the northern region.

Ice breaking ships are critical because they provide safe waterways for other boats and ships to travel in addition to aiding in rescue efforts. The vessel that the Governor and First Lady toured — the USCGC Biscayne Bay — has a primary purpose of maintaining tracks in the connecting waterways of the Great Lakes. Without the service of the dedicated crew members who maintain the vessel, traveling through the Great Lakes during the winter months would be nearly impossible.

Michigan is a state with immeasurable resources, diversity and opportunity. If you’re a Michigander, you know that the beauty of northern Michigan can never be overstated — from its scenery, towns, activities and wilderness, there is a little something for everyone “Up North.”

While meeting with Michiganders in the U.P. and across our state, Gov. Snyder has encouraged everyone to be louder and prouder about the incredible things happening in Michigan. The U.P. serves as a great example of the progress that has already been made and the bright future still ahead for the Great Lakes State.