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Dependence Vs. Independence In Sault Economy

Since the 1950’s Sault Ste. Marie, MI has put itself in a dependent economic relationship with Sault Canada. This article discuses 3 options to gain Economic Independence.

In the words of President Truman,

The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know. 

So lets review the economic changes in the 1900s for Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The industry we had: Carbide, Tannery, Woolen Mills, Pulp Paper mills

  • 1904 Power Canal Completed
  • 1930 Fort Brady
  • 1950 Fort Lucas
  • 1952 Air Force Base
  • 1955 Soo Woolen Closes
  • 1956 3 Major Employers Close (those with 50 or more employees)
  • 1958 Tannery Closes
  • 1960 Camp Lucas Closes
  • 1963 Carbide Closes
  • 1977 Airbase Closes

As you can see the first part of the 19th century was good to the Sault but by the late 70s, we were curb stomped on the street of hard economic times.

Charles Kettering, famed inventor and head of research at GM back in the early days said,

A well defined problem is half the solution.

Over the past century, our economy has been dependent on state and federal employees and our neighbors to the north.  We have just a handful of manufacturers and of course our Hospital. More than half a century later, we find ourselves tiredly dependent on the Canadian Dollar fluctuation. How do we achieve our independence?

Diversification — One of the famed SSM rumors is “When is Olive Garden Coming?” I like a good restaurant as much as the next guy, but foundational economics is based on job creation so people can afford to patronize places like Olive Garden. Specialized manufacturing, energy, and distribution are areas we could focus on that would provide maximum job creation impact.

Savings/Retained Earnings–When I was a kid and heard the saying ” save your money for a rainy day” I interpreted it as, save your money for a rainy day, because on rainy days you go to the mall and can’t play outside. Wrong assumption. Reducing your expenses in order to save more will allow us to have better flexibility, when the CAD drops though the floor.  Don’t allow your emotions direct your money; when things are bad, save your money; when things are good, save more money.

I have to say I was shocked to hear that the City’s CIP, or Capital Improvement Program, was only 3 years old. Rather painful for the State’s oldest city.  Taking care of your assets helps everyone out.

When I was in the Navy, I became very familiar with Maintenance Requirement Cards (MRCs). These were cards that you pulled on either a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually that would instruct you on the maintenance you needed preform on a particular piece of equipment. Everything was always, ship-shape and lasted a very long time.

I say this knowing that Chippewa County has over $1 Billion in investable dollars. That being said, Its time we invest into our community, where our attitudes, businesses and future business investments can be “steered” by our own patronage. Remember that investing is a function of saving.

Export –The term O.P.M. was popularized in 1991 by the film starring Danny DeVito (Other People’s Money). I’m not referring to banks but to exports. The more industry we have that creates buyers out of state or internationally, the better off we will be. Importing dollars for products or services we specialize in will take the zig off our economic zag. We do this with tourism every summer. We spend money on CVB activity (marketing) and tourists come. Only thing is we would be taking the seasonality out selling a product or service needed year-round.

Working together to come up with ideas, and more importantly implementing them, will make the EUP as industrious and profitable as it was at the beginning of the last century.

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