Marquette is the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, situated on the shores of Lake Superior three hours north of Green Bay. Though isolated, the city is a vibrant and progressive community, and home to Northern Michigan University. It is surrounded by natural beauty, complimented by its own wonderful downtown and waterfront. The City has defined an unique niche for itself as the silent sports capital of the Upper Peninsula, in addition to being its economic and service center.
While Marquette’s prospects for attracting significant outside industry are limited, the community has become a destination for mid-career professionals and others who see it as a desirable place to live and own a small (micro) business. Our research included an extensive analysis of startup businesses (along with existing businesses, branch plants, and relocations) to document sources and sectors of growth. Important recommendations included strategies to support these emerging business opportunities, continuing to foster revitalization in the downtown and elsewhere, developing the region’s agricultural production and local food hub, and creating an organization to advocate for businesses.
Spruce Grove is a rapidly growing suburb of Edmonton, Alberta. The Region has experienced very strong growth due to oil and gas exploration and processing, serving as the base of operations for far flung projects along the western slope of the Rockies and north into Alberta’s tar sand deposits.
Spruce Grove plays an important role in the metropolitan area. To begin with, it is on the west side of the city where it is upwind of large refineries east of the city. This makes it a more desirable location for residential development, and the community has been adding large numbers of skilled workers and professionals that are desired by employers in a tight labor market. As the western gateway, it also provide more convenient and congestion-free access to the west and to places in the north. This is a critical factor in moving the many oversized loads trucked to oil and mining sites. Spruce Grove is also more attractively priced than many competing locations in the metropolitan area.
These and other factors were considered in recommending a diverse set of target industries for the community. We followed up this analysis by recommending a marketing strategy based on the City’s available annual budget, and completed a comparative study of incentives common in the U.S. and Canadian cities with which Spruce Grove will compete.