Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan & Emmet Counties.

2023 Symposium: Even More Speakers Announced

2023 nlea symposium and showcaseGet Tickets for the Symposium

By Sam Bailey, Strategic Initiatives Manager

The 2023 Northern Lakes Economic Symposium and Showcase is on Monday May 22nd at Boyne Mountain Resort! To support the businesses and communities across the region that are confronting the challenge of attracting talent, this year’s theme is Talent Attraction and Retention. Presenters will offer solutions to the question, what can the businesses and communities of Northern Lower Michigan do to attract the workforce necessary for our region thrive? Through keynote speakers and breakout sessions, attendees will have the opportunity to examine talent challenges through global, community, industry cluster, and business lenses.

The NLEA is excited to announce our second keynote speaker will be Brian Calley, President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan. Mr. Calley is a collaborative leader who combines the skills from an accomplished private sector career with an extensive record of public service with a passion for Michigan’s small businesses. Currently, he serves as a director of a publicly traded community bank, and as a Trustee of Oakland University. Additionally, he sits on various boards, including Special Olympics Michigan, Sparrow Health System, Disability Rights Michigan, and the Autism Alliance of Michigan. Calley had the honor of serving as Michigan’s 63rd Lieutenant Governor from 2011-2018. Prior to that, Calley served two terms in the Michigan House of Representatives, two terms as an Ionia County commissioner and worked for over a decade in community banking. He holds a BA from Michigan State University, an MBA from Grand Valley State University and an MPA from Harvard University.

In an increasingly competitive labor market, employers must differentiate themselves from the competition. Dr. Ana Gonzalez will speak and a unique breakout session that examines what strengths family-owned businesses have in attracting and retaining talent. Dr. Gonzalez is Assistant Professor at the Management Department at Grand Valley State University and serves as Director of GVSU’s Family-Owned Business Institute. Her research interests include entrepreneurship, corporate governance, and social responsibility in family businesses. 

Talent challenges are inseparable from housing challenges. Breakout session panelists Yarrow Brown, Jessica Lovay, and Emily Doerr will cover recent state policy changes to support housing and new tools available to communities and developers. Since 2020, Yarrow Brown has served as the Executive Director of Housing North, a nonprofit organization that works to influence policy and expand capacity for communities in Northwest Michigan to create housing solutions. Jessica Lovay works as the Community Development and Grants Specialist with the Northern Lakes Economic where she takes in active role in supporting housing developers and managing governmental grants. Emily Doerr is the Executive Director of the Michigan State Land Bank where she oversees works to create a positive economic impact on Michigan communities by facilitating productive reuse of land.

In an era of decreasing labor availability, businesses are increasingly looking to technology to sustain and to increase output. The “Leveraging Technology in an Era of Labor Constraints” breakout session will examine trends in technology adoption in different commercial settings at the local and state level. Dustin Stabile is Head of Production at Mackinaw Trail Winery & Brewery, a local business investing in new equipment to increase efficiency in the harvesting and manufacturing of their products. Richard Wolin is the Regional Vice President of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC). The MMTC conducts Industry 4.0 assessments and supports businesses as they seek to improve their internal processes. These two speakers will be joined by another individual representing a local business that is leader in adopting innovative technologies in their production process. 

Registration for this exciting event is available on Eventbrite; the webpage will be the best source for up to date information about the event. If you are interested in securing a sponsorship for this unique, regional event, contact Sam Bailey at

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