Your Latest Economic News in Northern Michigan!

Plus Core Partner Updates!

David Emmel Announces Retirement from NLEA

David Emmel has announced his retirement as President of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). Emmel’s retirement was effective June 1st; however, he will remain with the organization on a part-time basis to continue to lead its operations and assist with the transition to a new leader.


Emmel started with the NLEA in October of 2020 and said that he had planned a much longer tenure, however life changes have occurred in his family that require more of his personal attention. “Our family demands have increased substantially which require me to re-prioritize my time and energy,” he said in his letter to the Board of Directors.


He stressed to the board that his passion for the NLEA’s mission has not and will not waver. “Serving in this capacity has truly been an honor,” he said in his letter noting that he has enjoyed working with everyone who has been committed to community and economic development in our region. “[It’s] a purpose which I have, and will continue to be committed and supportive,” he added.


David's retirement opens a career opportunity for the next President of NLEA. For more information and details on how to apply, click the link below.

Read Job Description

How Much Does Tourism Really Impact

the Local Economy?

By Sam Bailey, Strategic Initiatives Manager

The short answer, a lot. Now that it is June, seasonal residents and visitors are arriving in Northern Lower Michigan, filling local restaurants and hotels, shopping in stores, attending festivals and community events. In policy discussions, Northern Lower Michigan is often characterized as having a tourism or resort economy, but what is the actual impact of the industry?


There are many ways to examine the impact of an industry: jobs, consumer spending, wages paid, and other metrics. Fortunately, Pure Michigan releases annual reports that review the economic impact of tourism at the county level. In total, visitor spending in the NLEA service area grew from $856.6 million in 2016 to $1.09 billion in 2021.


Click below to see how visitors spend their money and the number of jobs that they create.

See the Impact

NLEA 2022 Annual Report Published

In June, the NLEA released its Annual Report which summarizes its activities in 2022. Click the image below to learn more about the regional impact of the NLEA and its goals moving forward.

Choose the North: 2023 Intern Project

To address the talent challenges faced by many local businesses, the 2023 NLEA/DTE Energy Foundation Interns are launching a talent attraction campaign and brand to show what makes living and working in Northern Lower Michigan special. The team’s goal is to target individuals 18- to 30-years-old, a demographic that the region is losing but is integral to the workforce. Social media content will show the unique lifestyle the region has to offer through interviews with locals who are living their best lives in Northern Lower Michigan.


Engage today!

How to Engage

Your Opinion is Needed

Take the Education-Friendly Employer Survey


"The Michigan Office of Sixty by 30 with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) will be launching a new initiative to support continuing education of Michigan's workforce and the role employers can play in moving the needle towards the State's educational attainment goal to have 60% of working age adults with a postsecondary credential by 2030."


In order to ensure our region is well represented, the state must have accurate information when assessing support.


Consider taking 10 minutes to fill out this survey regarding how employers are supporting the education pursuits of their employees in Michigan.

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Get Your Opinion Heard - Take The Q2 2023 Michigan Future Business Index Survey


The deadline is approaching for the Michigan Business Network’s Q2 2023 Michigan Future Business Index Survey! For nearly 20 years, the MFBI has given Michigan's small business community an amplified voice to deliver its opinions to lawmakers and business advocates across the state. The MFBI survey covers a variety of topics including the challenges to doing business in Michigan, expectations for future business, and how well our leaders are meeting the needs of businesses.” Take the survey here.

Founded Outdoors Partners

with Michigan Organizations

Founded-Outdoors image

 Via InsideOutdoor Magazine- Bruce Christian 


Founded Outdoors, a national platform for outdoor entrepreneurs has partnered with the Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office and Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) in a year-long program to educate and connect entrepreneurs with the state’s product design and scaled manufacturing opportunities.


Launched in 2021, Founded Outdoors supports emerging businesses nationwide through community, programming and connections, to increase access in the outdoor industry as well as in outdoor places.


The Founded Outdoors community includes more than 400 outdoor entrepreneurs at different stages across multiple product categories.

Keep Reading

Application Portal Closing Soon

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Apply now before it's too late... application portal will close on June 30th!


RAP 2.0 is an incentive program that will deploy $100 million to fill funding gaps on real estate and public space projects that help enhance community vitality and promote population and tax revenue growth.


Administered by the MEDC, this tool will provide gap financing for three categories:


  • Between $250,000 and $1 million for public space place-based infrastructure
  • Between $500,000 and $5 million for real estate rehabilitation and development
  • Up to $20 million, without exceeding regional allocations, to local or regional partners who develop a subgrant program


More about RAP 2.0

MIO Launches Online Tools

 Via Michigan Executive Office of the Governor 


Michigan Infrastructure Office (MIO) launched a set of online tools to serve Michigan communities as a one-stop shop to learn how to connect with federal infrastructure funding opportunities, request technical assistance from the state and track project funding.


The tools include the Community Navigator and Infrastructure Investment Tracker, which currently track projects ranging from roads to water to high-speed internet. 


“We are incredibly excited about the launch of these online tools, as it both holds us accountable and provides full transparency to the residents of Michigan on the infrastructure projects in process,” said Michigan’s Chief Infrastructure Officer Zachary Kolodin. “We believe it’s important for all Michiganders to have visibility of the dollars coming in, and this funding has the power to be transformative and empower communities across the state.” 

Explore Tools

Bridging Peninsulas Broadband -

Peninsula Fiber Network

It is with great excitement that we announce the Peninsula Fiber Network has been awarded $61 million in federal grant dollars to improve Michigan’s broadband infrastructure. NLEA has supported this initiative from the beginning.


Peninsula Fiber Network’s grant will allow for the construction of middle mile broadband routes in three locations across Michigan. One of the three routes connects the town of Gulliver, near Manistique, in the Upper Peninsula to Beaver Island and Charlevoix.


"This route combines national security interests with access to middle mile broadband for rural Michigan," noted Eric Grandstaff, former NLEA Broadband specialist.


"Currently the only fiber access between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas is across the Mackinac Bridge. Any redundant connection today must traverse around Lake Michigan which adds delay to the signal transmission. This Lake Michigan crossing would bring an additional reliable, redundant route between the two peninsulas. It also provides much needed middle mile access to multiple communities like remote and isolated Beaver Island and to last mile providers in northern Michigan."


We are happy to see that the high-speed broadband network will be

brought into unserved and underserved portions Antrim and Charlevoix Counties, specifically with critical network expansion to remote Beaver Island.

Fire Equipment Grant Application-

Deadline Approaching

Deadline is Monday, July 10th 2023


The MI Fire Equipment Grant is a program intended to assist local government fire departments that are “predominately on-call, part-time or volunteer” with purchasing fire equipment.


Apply before the application window closes!

Apply Now

Invitation to Rural Leadership Summits

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Office of Rural Development (ORD) invites you to participate in an upcoming Rural Leadership Summit.


These events will feature relevant data, highlight regional initiatives, foster discussion on regional rural priorities, and gather input on a forthcoming report from the ORD on rural resource needs and opportunities. Participants will have an opportunity to grow and strengthen regional collaborative initiatives while also influencing statewide rural conversations and initiatives.

See Details & Register
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