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

Andy Hayes reflects over last 15 years

Andy Hayes 1st week at NLEA 2005

By Andy Hayes, NLEA President 2005-2020

I came to the NLEA almost 16 years ago and wow! has it been an exciting ride. Over the years we’ve been involved in many exciting projects, and developed many great relationships. It was a big job and quite frankly a bit scary at first as our state and region had our share of challenges to address. I remember getting some great advice from our NLEA Executive Committee. They stressed that the “secret sauce” of the NLEA was cooperation and collaboration. No one entity could (or should) try to go it alone. When we work together, we win together!

We took that advice to heart and over the years developed many partners both formally and informally. This collective impact model works and sure makes the process a lot more fun. Of course, sometimes this is like “herding cats”, but in the end we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing and the results are pretty impressive.

Having this many people from so many different organizations working together, collaborating and looking out for each other is a rare thing to find, and for that reason I am particularly grateful.

Every day I met and worked with people that were committed, creative and sincerely loved this area too. From companies that “make stuff” and communities that work hard to create a positive environment for residents and business to the many local, state and federal organizations and agencies that have programs and services to assist. All top notch. Thank you for all you do to make this area vibrant.

The NLEA Board of Directors is the best board I have ever worked with. Talented, committed, creative and most of all supportive (especially of “Andy’s endless crazy ideas”). They truly know the role of a board and it made my job exciting and fun.

The staff is outstanding too. We’ve had many really good people on the team over the years and it was always exciting to work with others that were as committed to the mission and the area as I am. Thank you to all of you for making me look like the smartest person in the area! The NLEA and our region is in good hands and rest assured, you have a dedicated team that wakes up every morning thinking about ways to help companies, communities and our area move forward.

I’m also excited that Dave Emmel is the new NLEA President. Dave has a ton of experience, contacts and expertise. He works well with everyone and can focus the organization on what’s important. We are lucky to have him.

Both my wife Cindy and I are excited about this next chapter in our lives. The future is bright and we’re looking forward to exploring it!

And finally, I’ll leave you with this. I’ve always lived by the mantra “work beyond your experience and plan beyond your tenure”. Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people more knowledgeable than you. This is the only way you and your organization will grow to the next level. As you build, be mindful of what happens after you leave. Are you building a solid foundation that can be built on in the future or will everything fall apart once you’re gone?

Oh… and by the way, keep smiling and have some fun!

Thank you!

Core Partners

Get the NLEA E-Newsletter
Be in the know about programs and events to benefit your communities and businesses.