The pumpkins have frost on them in the morning and the patios are void of seasonal "stuff" as residents brace for what will be WINTER. 2016 so far has seen a lot of activity from the closure of the Empire Mine (about 300 workers affected - here is to hoping all find suitable or even better job opportunities) to many projects in the works including municipal, private development and dormitories on the NMU campus being constructed. Even though NMU's numbers are down, recent reports indicate the applications are encouraging and improved infrastructure will only help in that situation. Interest rates are still very low and affordable and it is obvious many have purchased, refinanced or borrowed to improve over the past 12-months with median prices in the County showing healthy gains. With a new contract for the hard working Tilden Mine employees set, I feel confident that 2017 will have a similar outlook which, even as the darker snow clouds roll in, is pretty bright!
As we dust the late May snow off the cars and boats we have already taken out of storage, one can look around and see Marquette is currently got some projects in the works. Reports indicate a new "DQ Grill and Chill" out in Target's parking lot has broken ground, I see trucks entering to the rear of the Liberty Way Development with a sign for their next phase being an extended stay motel and mining trucks loaded with pay dirt are heading west on a consistent basis. The recent layoff news of Cliffs Natural Resources to affect about 350 workers is not welcome news (certainly thinking about the folks, friends and families involved); hopefully this will change with political pressure on cheap foreign steel producers. One will have to wait and see how this plays out. I remember even as a young professional (many moons ago), great people talking about the local economy with sayings like...:"As The Mining Industry Goes, As Does Marquette", lets hope this is a temporary shutdown with better news on the horizon...
As we start into the month of August and temps so far have been cooled by the great air conditioner we call Lake Superior, construction projects are underway, well received mining trucks hauling ore laden material (try staying in the left lane between Marquette and Negaunee...it helps) are numerous and early morning saws wake up teenagers trying to get that all so needed sleep, we see good signs the economy in the Marquette area is healthy. Lenders are offering great rates to well qualified folks and it would appear even less qualified now have options again. In traveling the Upper Peninsula this summer it is also obvious other areas like Alger, Houghton, Delta and Mackinaw Counties are seeing increases in tourism noted by wait times at restaurants, traffic and motel rooms not being available. It is nice to see after dismal signs seen from about 2007 through 2011; a welcome relief for business owners alike whether your a franchisee or a "Mom and Pop". I am sure offers are being written to ensure families are in their homes before the start of school which will be the first week of September; about the time the temps will rise over 80!
As Spring FINALLY starts to show Winter the door, it looks like the Marquette County area will be looking at a prosperous start to the sales season of 2014. We have noticed an up tick in residential appraisal orders with some new construction already starting (despite some areas of the County still having a lot of snow). Local lenders appear to have very affordable rates for the well qualified and overall, considering the fairly low employment rates in the County and most everyone that wants to work is either employed or at least the view is rosier; I think the Marquette area will show a robust sales season. The planned and up coming construction of Marquette General's (a Duke LifePoint Hospital) new hospital, the grand change of the Sara Lee Bakery to the Liberty Way development by the Veridea Group has improved the Marquette skyline and they are still working to achieve their goals on their site, the new Thomas Theatre Group's development on Commerce Drive is a multimillion dollar investment that I am sure the public will welcome and it is obvious seeds planted by investors at Founder's Landing are starting to spring to life with the warmer weather. The Marquette has a lot of dirt that has recently been moved, is planned to be moved or is in the process of being moved and all these "changes" are fueling jobs and incomes of residents. The notable mine extension has put a relieved hard working work force's mind at ease as well as many market participants dependent on that segment of the population. The Eagle Mine project by Lundin in both Powell and Humboldt Townships is on target and again affecting the lives of the central Upper Peninsula's workforce. All of these factors are considered to be driving influences that indicate a prosperous and healthy Marquette County and surrounding. Our hats are off to the folks that have made this happen on an hourly basis and through the work week....HAPPY SPRING!
George Edward "Ed" Dempsey is the owner and Certified General Appraiser of Appraisal Associates of Marquette. He has been appraising real estate since 1989 and sold prior to that date. Ed is a father to five great kids, husband to wife Mikki and loves the great outdoors the Marquette area has to offer. Ed specializes in commercial but always loves a challenging residential, recreational or multifamily property.