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Lt. Governor visits Soo Locks Construction and Housing sites in U.P.

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The Make it in Michigan Budget Tour started its Northern Michigan tour on Monday, stopping in Kincheloe and Sault Ste. Marie.

During the visit, Lieutenant Govenor Garlin Gilchrist II toured the Soo Locks Construction site and Housing Project.

According to a news release, the construction will make it so the new lock “will be able to handle larger vessels and will prevent failure of the locks, ensuring further economic growth and security.”

Officials said the construction project will create 1,240 jobs and will take 7-10 years to complete. Because of the influx of workers coming to the site, the area is facing a housing shortage. The housing project will address concerns and eventually provide 400 units for living.

President of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation Chris Olson said before the project, workers stayed in hotel rooms which led to effects on tourism.

“There is a real need for housing in this region, as most rural areas and cities too,” Olson said. “But the reason why this was needed (was) because they were starting to consume hotel rooms and we don’t have enough hotel rooms for our tourism industry which is a big part of the eastern upper peninsula.”

According to Olson, the project is bringing in workers from different areas.

“A lot of these jobs are specialized, so they need to bring people from the outside area in for the work. And while doing that there’s just a lack of housing,” Olson said.

The housing project is currently in phase one which will hold just under 100 people. Olson said people are just starting to move into the new housing campus.

The Lt. Governor today also stopped at Lake Superior State University to visit its Center for Freshwater Research and Education. The center focuses on oil spills in freshwater and develops freshwater responses, according to a news release.