David Emmel has announced his retirement as President of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA). The retirement is effective immediately; 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.
The NLEA’s Personnel Committee will lead the executive search. They have now met a few times to begin the transition planning. “We have a couple of organizational decisions to make and then we can move forward with the search process,” said Carlin Smith, 2023 Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Personnel Committee. He noted that some of the preparation work is already underway so that the organization can move quickly when it’s ready.
“David is a true economic developer,” Smith said noting that helping businesses is in his DNA. “He is passionate about this work and he is very knowledgeable; it’s what he thinks about all of the time; we’re really going to miss his professionalism and expertise,” Smith added.
Prior to coming to the NLEA, Emmel served in roles in economic development, health care administration, non-profit management, and he has experience as an entrepreneur. Just prior to joining the NLEA, he was the Regional Director and Senior Business Consultant for the Small Business Development Center of Northeast Michigan. He also served as Adjunct Faculty at Northwood University in Midland developing curriculum and teaching entrepreneurial strategy and business modeling among other areas of study. He joined the NLEA in 2020, replacing Andy Hayes who had been President of the organization for 15 years.
The NLEA is a community development and economic development organization serving the counties of Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet. Their ultimate mission is to create and retain jobs in this four-county region. The organization was formed in 1984 and over that time has only had four different presidents.
Emmel’s announcement comes on the heels of the NLEA’s annual Economic Symposium and Showcase held at Boyne Mountain on May 22. Nearly 250 people attended that event to hear from various speakers and presenters about the critical issue of talent attraction and retention. One of Emmel’s accomplishments was leading the transition of this event from an awards showcase to a premier educational symposium that is recognized statewide.