“See You Next Summer!” Said the Tourism Jobs
By now you may know that I grew up on a dairy farm in Waupaca, Wisconsin, a little cow-town of about 6,000 people. The town is home to the Waupaca Foundry, largest gray-iron ductile foundry system in the world. The foundry is the largest employer in the county. Waupaca is also home to the Chain O’Lakes, one of the top tourist destinations in Wisconsin.
Clear Water Harbor is the trendy bar on the lake. It will close for the winter soon and open again in the spring. Mo’s Chicago Dogs is another place that is only open in the summer. I was home this last weekend and stopped to take a picture of the sign.
Tourism is an important source of income for Waupaca, but the Foundry is the city’s true economic backbone. Without the high wages paid by manufacturing jobs, there is a lot less money to spend at Mo’s Dogs, Clearwater Harbor, and the Waupaca Woods Restaurant, which was voted best food in town.
Much like manufacturing is the backbone of Waupaca’s economy, mining is the backbone of the economies in places like Ely, Hibbing, and Hoyt Lakes. Without mining, these towns would be less able to support local businesses and tourist attractions.
Tourism jobs are important, but it also important to understand and acknowledge the economic limitations of these jobs. They generally have lower wages and are more seasonal. Mining Minnesota’s copper, nickel, platinum, and titanium resources would create 1,900 high-paying mining jobs and support more than 3,000 jobs in the supply chain.
In fairness, mining jobs are subject to global commodity prices, and miners face layoffs when commodity prices are low, but at least these jobs won’t necessarily shrivel up after Labor Day with a sign that says “See You Next Summer!”