August's business growth news around the U.P.

As summer comes to a close, innovation is taking a few steps forward with new growth across various sectors of business in the Upper Peninsula. From large employers like hospitals and universities to the gig economy, the diversification of the U.P. economy continues to impress.


OB/GYN clinic opens

In August, the Dickinson County Healthcare System officially opened a new obstetrics and gynecology clinic. Located in Iron Mountain on the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital campus, the new clinic is called Dickinson County OB/GYN Services and can be found directly behind the hospital's Family Birth Center.


The new location, about 5,500 square feet in size, should provide better access and efficiency between the two facilities, since the previous OB/GYN clinic was in a different part of Iron Mountain, about two miles away. Two physicians, Drs. James Merrill and Adam Ryan, are already practicing at the new clinic, with more being recruited, according to DCHS.


Ampersand Coworking in Marquette

A new coworking office space is opening in downtown Marquette, named Ampersand Coworking. It's backed by the Marquette Chamber of Commerce and will be located in the Masonic Square Mall.


The space is 5,250 square feet and will contain conference rooms, open work spaces, private offices, semi-private desks, a kitchen, and a reception area. It also offers perks like printing, client meeting space, internet use, and, certainly not the least important thing, coffee throughout the day. Users of the coworking space are expected to include freelancers, home business owners, small client-service type businesses, and creative professionals.


About 50 people or small businesses can work in the space at one time, and 17 spaces have already been rented, according to Jason Schneider, executive director of the Marquette Chamber of Commerce. Rent ranges from $50 to $1,000 a month depending on the worker or business and their needs. The cost to renovate the space into a suitable coworking location comes in at about $400,000, to be shared by the Chamber, the Masonic Square Mall, and the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office, which will be one of the occupants. Construction is scheduled for October through January.


New public-private dorms open at NMU

Northern Michigan University in Marquette is trying out a new model for their resident dorms. A public-private partnership with company EdR has resulted in the opening of a new, 417-bed dormitory, or "living-learning community," according to EdR, on the university's campus.


It's called The Woods, and is just the first phase of a $75 million, 1,229-bed dorm development project that is slated to be finished in 2018.


Features at The Woods include high-speed internet and wireless, classrooms, study rooms, lounges and laundry rooms. An open lobby with fireplace and large outdoor patio area are included to offer space for student events, entertainment, and university functions year-round.


The partnership means that EdR leases the land on which the dorms are built from the university, but owns the buildings themselves. EdR has this type of arrangement with dozens of universities all over the U.S.


Lyft expands into the U.P.

Ride-service company Lyft has been steadily growing across the country, including in lower Michigan. Now, it's announced it will expand into rural areas in all of the states it operates in -- and that means a ride service is finally coming to the U.P.! (No, Uber doesn't appear to have any plans to do the same.)


Lyft is recruiting drivers all over the U.P. now, with the goal to increase ridership and serve previously unserved areas of the state. It now claims that 94 percent of the U.S. population will be able to use Lyft drivers to get where they want to go, with about 700,000 drivers nationwide after this expansion.


It is expected to take longer to get a Lyft here than it might in, say, metro Detroit, but the company states that as word spreads about its services, pickup times, fares and driver numbers typically improve in a new service area.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
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