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In 2010, the city con­tracted Gary Wolfram, eco­nomics pro­fessor, and Mary Wolfram, Hillsdale City Council Member, to lead the Com­mittee for Eco­nomic Devel­opment in the city. The couple now works with busi­nesses and indus­tries in Hillsdale to improve socioe­co­nomic con­di­tions.

“We are local. We know all the busi­nesses and the town. We are con­nected to the college and Gary’s expe­rience is second to none,” Mary Wolfram said.

The Wol­frams help Hillsdale busi­nesses obtain permits, hold events to encourage cus­tomers, and  encourage media rela­tions.

Gary Wolfram served as the Deputy to the State Trea­surer from 1991 to 1992. He also worked as Chief of Staff for Michigan Con­gressman Nick Smith in 1995. In 1998, Gary Wolfram answered an adver­tisement in the Wall Street Journal for an eco­nomics pro­fes­sorship at Hillsdale College and sub­se­quently was hired to begin work in January of 1999.

During his pro­fes­sorship, Mary Wolfram worked at Hillsdale Academy teaching eighth grade. Once her last son grad­uated eighth grade, she decided to run for City Council and was elected in 2010.

At the same time she was elected, the director of eco­nomic devel­opment position was vacant. It seemed like the perfect job for her and her husband, Mary Wolfram said.

“There has been a decline in industry, tax revenue, the number of stores, a general decline in the socio-eco­nomic status of the cit­izens,” she said. “I just wanted to help, and I wanted to help bring some eco­nomic devel­opment to the city.”

The Wol­frams said the city’s main strength is the college. They see the best way to improve the town is to inte­grate the city and the college.

“Over the years there has seemed to be a divide between the two,” Gary Wolfram said.

One of the first activ­ities that the Wolfram’s planned was the 100th anniversary of Hillsdale City Hall, in 2011. They decided to hold the event during Parent’s Weekend, which attracted more people than they expected. Now they try to hold events during Parent’s Weekend, CCAs, and Home­coming Weekend.

Gary Wolfram thinks that the divide comes not from hos­tility between the town and the college but a dis­connect between the two. He said that better contact could solve the problem and help the city of Hillsdale succeed.

Mary Wolfram wants to attract busi­nesses to Hillsdale that cater to college stu­dents.

“We have a town with a college in it, but we are really not a college town,” she said. “When you go to downtown Ann Arbor you think, ‘Oh my God I’m in a college town.’”

Mary Wolfram also helped Stu­dents in Free Enter­prise start working with downtown busi­nesses to improve their web­sites and to help with day-to-day business.

“Mrs. Wolfram is really excited and that makes us excited too,” said Dan Thelen, Pres­ident of SIFE.

Mary Wolfram encourages stu­dents to help the busi­nesses of Hillsdale succeed.

“Stu­dents could just patronize the busi­nesses. Come downtown,” she said “Any business helps.”

           eepperson@hillsdale.edu