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Summit discusses "micro" vs. "macro" economies

TOMAHAWK, Wis. (WXPR) -- There's a change going on in local economies, centering on more "micro" and less "macro".

The 7th annual Northwoods Research Summit opened Thursday UWSP ­Treehaven near Tomahawk. Keynote speaker was Jerry Hembd, Professor of Business and Economics at UW­ Superior. Hembd says there's a shift happening between how we economically relate to the environment. He says current thinking is a short­-term dynamic, that we can continue to grow infinitely, and technology has all the answers.  "I'm going to make the case, the limits are pretty obvious, we're seeing them now, A lot of disciplines, including economics are re­thinking how they understand the world because the old models and the old theories aren't really doing that good of a job of explaining what we see around us."

Hembd thinks the future focus will be on relationships between people and communities rather than what he calls the "bits and pieces" of economics now. He says there's a difference between "growth" and "development."  "If we continue to look at growth as using more things, and using more and more resources, that is something I'm going to maintain that is something we probably can't continue to do indefinitely.  But there's a lot more to community than growth, and maybe the keys to that is development. He says this gets into education, healthcare, human well­ being, happiness, quality of life, however you want to look at it."

Hembd says we will need to look at how we use energy. He says energy has been one of the key drivers in how we relate to the natural world and that will change.

The summit brings together several private, education and government people to share ideas. The Rhinelander­ and Tomahawk areas have several research facilities, both government and private.