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

2023 Symposium: More Speakers Announced

2023 NLEA Symposium and showcase speakersBy 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.

Attract Through Placemaking

New research on Midwest communities has found that community amenities such as recreation opportunities, cultural activities, and excellent services are likely larger contributors to healthy local economies than traditional business-friendly measures. Increasingly, individuals are choosing the community they want to live in first and considering jobs second. In response, the community development profession has seen a surge in discussions around creating appealing communities. Michele Wildman, Executive Vice President for Economic Development Incentives with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), will lead a breakout session exploring MEDC programs geared towards placemaking. Community leaders will have the opportunity to learn how to leverage MEDC programs to build communities that are a more desirable place to live, work, and play.

Growth Opportunities in the Craft Beverage Industries

Data reveals that Northern Michigan’s flourishing craft beverage industry is outpacing national growth. How can the region best support the sector in an era of talent constraints? How are businesses managing the talent required for market growth and facility expansions? What role does the transition from informal training to formal training education play in the industry’s talent equation? Breakout session panelists Emily Hengstebeck, Scott Newman-Bale, and Chris Fredrickson will delve into these, and other, questions.

Emily Hengstebeck is central member of the team at Beards Brewery and is the 2023 President of Fermenta, a non-profit trade group initiated by women, committed to education, networking, diversity, and empowerment within the fermented beverage and food industries. Scott Newman-Bale has been CEO of Short’s Brewing, the third largest brewery in the state, for over fifteen years. He also serves as President of the Michigan Brewers Guild, Member of the Brewers Association Government Affairs Committee, and has traveled throughout the U.S. advocating for craft breweries and brewers. Chris Fredrickson is the President and Co-Founder of Traverse City Whiskey Company. Since starting in 2011, the company has rapidly grown to produce a variety of bourbons, canned cocktails, and experimental spirits. Last fall, the company announced a $20 million project to develop a facility to produce, bottle, process, and package its products in Traverse City; the investment will create nearly 100 jobs for the company. These panelists will discuss current and future talent trends in the craft beverage industry.

Join the Symposium and Showcase!

Stay tuned for more Symposium and Showcase updates in the coming weeks as speakers and breakout sessions are announced. Registration is now available on Eventbrite and the page will be updated as speakers are announced. If you are interested in securing a sponsorship, for this exciting event, contact Sam Bailey at

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