Sesquicentennial: Industry leaders, merchants talk business

ESCANABA – Many Escanaba area businesses and restaurants took part in the Sesquicentennial Business and Industry After Hours event Tuesday evening.

The event was held in the Ruth Butler Building on the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

According to Vickie Micheau, executive director of the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, approximately 20 Chamber member businesses and restaurants were showcased during the event.

“Business After Hours is a great opportunity for people to network,” said Micheau. “They typically do business with the people that they know and so this opens up the doors for people to visit with their current customers and make new customers.”

Margaret Noreus, financial advisor from event co-sponsor Edward Jones Investments, noted the event is important in celebrating the city’s sesquicentennial.

“I think that when you look back historically, this community has gone through an evolution of what industries have really worked to create this area,” she said. “When you compare 150 years ago to where we are now, you see that evolution.”

Noreus added it has been great to see so many ways the community can celebrate with various Esky 150 activities since people have different interests.

Many local businesses have been positively impacted by the city’s celebrations so far.

“Most importantly, it’s just brought so many people into town,” said Jim Kirby, owner of Sayklly’s. “A lot of people are here to have fun and see people they haven’t seen in a long time…and economy-wise, our stores have been very busy.”

The family business has been around for 107 years and spans four generations. Sayklly’s marketing manager Ali Kirby said over those years, the business has expanded from one store to three stores and an online business. She thanked Esky 150 organizers for planning the 10-day celebration.

“I think it’s great for the people of Escanaba to understand where Escanaba came from, how it’s developed and to appreciate where they live,” she said. “I recognize that in a lot of people that have lived here forever and they never knew and now they know.”

The paper-making industry also has played an important role in the Escanaba area, with the NewPage paper mill currently serving as the largest local employer.

“We’re just delighted to be a part of the celebration and feel honored to have been in this community since 1911,” said Jackie Pride, NewPage’s communications and public relations manager. “We’re happy to see all the excitement of the residents and people visiting the area and just proud to be a part of it.”

Pride, who attended the dedication and opening of the new Delta County Historical Society’s museum, noted the timing of the dedication worked perfectly for the city’s Esky 150 celebrations. In the new museum, visitors can see an exhibit showcasing pieces of Mead and NewPage history.

“NewPage has a lot of history and we place a lot of value in that tradition,” she said.

Delta County Airport manager Kelly Smith said Tuesday’s business and industry event is great for the airport since the airline industry is always changing and they can address various questions people may have.

“Business After Hours are meant for networking, so this is the best way to network. This is showcasing your business,” said Smith.

The event was sponsored by Edward Jones Investments, DTE Energy, WLUC TV 6 and Fox UP.

The Esky 150 Sesquicentennial celebrations continue today with a children’s parade and activities for kids in Ludington Park, a 20-year celebration of Harbor Hideout, a senior social at the Eagles, an Escanaba all-school reunion at the Ruth Butler Building, Escanaba City Band concert at the bandshell and Delta County Cancer Alliance luminary night.