What does a national park mean to Randolph County?

The quick answer is … millions of dollars in additional tourism revenue. The French Historic District in and around Prairie du Rocher, including historic buildings and Fort de Chartres, were once the western boundary of the United States. That carries immense historical significance.

“The economic benefits of our French Historic District being designated a national park are amazing,” said Michele Cross, president of the Randolph County Progress Committee. According to Cross, every dollar invested returns 10 dollars to the area. She cites the community of Munising, Michigan, as an example. In 2018, The National Park Service reported that more than 780,000 people had visited the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, generating $33 million dollars in revenue for the region.

Since the 1980s, The Randolph County Progress Committee (PC), the non-profit corporation tasked to coordinate economic development for Randolph County, has been quietly working to raise the wealth of the community. The group focuses primarily on the three core principles of economic development, attracting new manufacturers, helping existing manufacturers to expand and working with entrepreneurs to start new small businesses.

For more, please see this week’s print edition.