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Back to Normal or New Normal?
By Sam Bailey, NLEA Strategic Initiatives Manager
Sam Bailey NLEA Intern
The year 2022 saw a return to normal for some aspects of the regional economy: the demanding summer season drove thousands of people to enter the workforce and decreased unemployment rates. While the cycles are the same, the magnitude is not.

The 2022 labor force is markedly smaller than before the pandemic; there 2,413 fewer workers in the peak month of July in the NLEA service area. It is unlikely that the labor force will return to its pre-pandemic levels anytime soon due to a combination of factors: an aging population, housing and childcare challenges, fewer young people, COVID causing early retirements, and others.

Northern Lower Michigan needs to begin an earnest discussion around talent attraction and retention to address current and continued labor challenges. To kickstart this conversation, the 2023 Northern Lakes and Economic Symposium will focus on talent attraction and retention.
Symposium - Talent Attraction & Retention
Join the Northern Lakes Economics Alliance at the 2023 Economic Symposium and Showcase as we examine talent attraction through global, community, industry cluster, and business lenses. Businesses and communities are confronting the challenge of attracting talent.

In the face of a declining and aging state population, what can the businesses and communities of Northern Lower Michigan do to attract the workforce needed to help our region thrive?

The event will take place Monday, May 22 8:30am to 5:30pm at Boyne Mountain Resort, Boyne Falls. The program has been extended this year to include another session of breakout rooms to explore and more networking time.

Stay tuned as speakers and breakout sessions are announced in the coming months.
Outdoor Economy Surges in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released economic data for 2021 exhibiting outdoor recreation’s powerful and positive economic impact on the U.S. economy. The outdoor recreation economy in Michigan grew an impressive 15.4 percent from 2020 to 2021, according to the BEA Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account. This year’s report shows that outdoor recreation creates $10.8 billion in value added for Michigan, and includes nearly 10,000 jobs in a wide range of occupations and skills, including design and manufacturing, retail sales, and hospitality.

This is the largest recorded measure for Michigan since the BEA started calculating the size of the outdoor recreation economy in 2012.

“The outdoor recreation economy is a powerful, unifying force for better health, good jobs and private sector investment all across the country,” said Brad Garmon, Executive Director of the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.
Nominate a Small Business
Want to show your support of Michigan small businesses? Nominate a successful, growing company for the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award!

Michigan Celebrates Small Business recognizes small businesses in all industries whose growth supports Michigan’s economy. Together with our founders, we established a variety of awards to honor the many different ways that small businesses demonstrate excellence across the state.

Awardees are honored May 2, 2023 in Lansing at the Breslin Center. Beyond the Award, small business recipients gain access to resources and growth tools.

The deadline to submit nominations has been extended to November 27th!
Elk Rapids Walks the Talk
The Village of Elk Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA), a volunteer
board of 10 rockstars supported by Village staff, recently completed an annual action plan informed by the needs and goals of their community and business stakeholders—needs and goals that the board personally gathered via one-on-one conversations between board members and stakeholders.

Their “go to” the community engagement approach resulted in a robust understanding of community priorities and needs and centered the people who
live, work, play, and learn in Elk Rapids, building relationships between residents,
business owners, and municipal officials.
Seeking Fellow Host Communities
Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) is seeking municipalities engaged or certified in the Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) program to host a Community Development Fellow for a 15-month placement beginning May 2023. Fellows have a proven track record of supporting and advancing their host municipality's community economic development goals. Fellow projects improve organizational capacity, increase local collaboration and remove barriers to development. Fellows have also helped their communities make significant progress on the RRC program, supported efforts to update key planning documents, passed revised zoning ordinances and more. Communities interested in hosting a fellow or learning more should review the Community Development Fellow Host Site Application packet. Applications are due Dec. 7, 2022 at 5 p.m.
Anna Sangster filled the role of Community Development Fellow in the CIty of Cheboygan in 2021. Part of her work was helping the city pursue Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification. She also worked on the appointment policy for Boards and Commissions, a Guide to Development, and supporting the DDA with an application to Michigan State University's Sustainable Built Environment Initiative.
Manthei Family & Businesses Featured in Forbes
The Manthei Group was featured in Forbes magazine. The family runs businesses that include five different business units and is headquartered in Petoskey. Together the businesses support more than 400 employees and bring in over $100 million in annual sales.

“We went to business school and learned that the purpose of business is to maximize shareholder value. However, that definition really misses the point. Maximizing value is a requirement to sustain business. It is like saying the purpose of a human is to breathe. You need to breathe to live, but the purpose of living isn’t breathing, is it? The purpose of business is to apply your faith to helping others, giving back to something bigger than yourself. This is where success and significance intersect.”

- Jake Manthei, President of Aster Brands
Successful Housing Summit
David Emmel – President of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance presented and served as a panelist at the 2022 Northwest Michigan Housing Summit recently in Traverse City on the topic of the Effect of Housing Circumstances on Economic Development.

Emmel’s presentation highlighted the intersection of housing on talent attraction while also recognizing that the environment today is still being impacted by the 2008 economic downturn and housing crisis.

“While the demand for talent in the state of Michigan is being accelerated by near weekly announcements of new EV productions facilities coming to Michigan, the state is still not producing enough housing to address this new demand and to address the growing demand gap from 2007/2008. Housing will continue to be a long range issue affecting our region driven primarily by the lack of construction labor that left the state following the 2008 housing market collapse. We will need to find ways to bring people back into the workforce to provide the talent our companies need to be sustainable, growing and thriving drivers of our 12 month economy.”

Other highlights from Housing North:

  • Yusuf Dahl shared advice and his inspirational story as our 2022 Keynote speaker. You might have also caught his speech on Interlochen Public Radio. If you haven't, click here! 
  • Here is a link to the Statewide housing plan and the programs. We encourage you to provide feedback through MSHDA on these programs and how they can benefit NW Michigan. 
  • Our Funders Award was presented to Charlevoix County, City of Charlevoix, the City of Boyne City, and the City of East Jordan for being the first county to launch the Housing Ready Program. 
Happy Thanksgiving
Our office will be closed Thursday and Friday November 24 -25 in honor of Thanksgiving holiday. The staff at NLEA thanks all who make our community a thriving place to live, work, and play. You help make our job easier!
Happy thanksgiving from NLEA
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