“Magic of winter cities...seeing is believing”

Michigan State Roundup

Published January 1, 1996  | January 1996 issue

Capturing and marketing the magic of winter cities is the goal of the Winter Cities Association and the theme of the 1997 Winter Cities Forum scheduled for Marquette.

While some may see little "magic" in winter, others who live and work in northern cities say such ventures celebrate the uniqueness of a winter city lifestyle and open doors for new trade and commerce. A case in point: The northern Canadian city of Yellowknife has seen over $60 million in business developed through a Winter Cities relationship with Siberia.

Established in the 1980s the association's mission is to "improve the physical, social and economic well-being of northern communities around the world," and members include cities in Canada, Japan, China, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia and the United States.

The Association's 1995 forum in Bratsk in Eastern Siberia was attended by three representatives from the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) to acquaint participants with the UP and to "stimulate interest among the participants in coming to Marquette," says Patrick Coleman, vice president, Marquette Winter Cities Association. As a result of that visit, a Marquette businessman is pursuing business contacts in Siberia for residential construction ventures.

The selection of Marquette to host the 1997 Winter Cities Forum marks the first time the conference will be held in the lower 48 states, thus providing a focus for U.S. winter cities. Approximately 350 municipal officials, business leaders, academics, tourism promoters and journalists are expected in Marquette to attend the forum February 12-15, 1997.

The '97 forum will include workshops and discussions in four major areas: economic development, livability, technology and the environment. Also included will be an exhibition of international products related to travel, tourism, technology, communication, transportation and housing.

Of course a conference focusing on the viability of winter cities would not be complete without some winter fun; snowmobiling, skiing, skating and the beginning of the annual UP 200 Sled Dog Race are all on the agenda.

"We should not have to apologize for living in a winter city," Coleman says. With the changes in business brought about by technological advances, he adds, "it is possible today for someone to live in Houghton and to conduct business around the world."

Diane Wells