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

Speakers Announced – 2023 Northern Lakes Economic Symposium and Showcase

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 first keynote speaker will be Dr. Michael Horrigan, President of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo. Dr. Horrigan took over as the Upjohn Institute’s president in March 2019. In the past three years, he has overseen the development of a strategic plan for the Institute, introduced numerous new and innovative workplace practices, and created several new management structures to help guide the work of the Institute. An expert in education, workforce development, and labor market issues, he recently oversaw a major study developing an index of demand for Career and Technical Education courses related to in-demand occupations. He worked for over 32 years at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During his career, he ran several survey programs, including Surveys of Employer Provided Training, the National Longitudinal Surveys, and Occupational Employment and Projections. As a senior executive, he headed up the Bureau’s inflation programs and the employment/unemployment survey programs. Dr. Horrigan’s address will examine the macroeconomic forces that are shaping the labor market.

In the NLEA service area, the share of the population older than 60 increased 9.1% since 2010 to 34.4% in 2021. As a result, the labor pool for local businesses is both shrinking and getting older. Dr. Peter Berg of MSU’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations will lead a breakout session that will examine how employers can manage the ramifications of an aging population—significant retirements, knowledge transfer—to maintain the sustainability of their business. Dr. Berg is professor of employment relations and Director of the School of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University. His research interests include work-life flexibility policies and practices, the implications of an aging workforce for organizations, and international comparisons of working time. Professor Berg is the author of numerous publications. He has been a Fulbright Scholar and conducted research or presented his work in over 20 countries around the world. He has served as an executive board member of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and as President of the Industry Studies Association.

A Few Breakout Panelists

Education and awareness are important, but how will Northern Lower Michigan take concrete steps towards developing a regional talent attraction and retention strategy? In the afternoon breakout session, one room will focus on how the stakeholders in the region’s talent attraction space—economic development organizations, regional planning organizations, businesses, etc.—can work together to build an effective strategy. Panelists will include NLEA President David Emmel, Audra Leinginer, and Rachel Gray. As Talent Hub Designer and Social Coordinator for the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments, Audra Leinginer develops content aimed at highlighting the appeal of the ten counties of Northeast Lower Michigan. Rachel Gray is the Executive Director of Hello West Michigan, a Grand Rapids-based talent attraction organization. When founded in 2010, the organization was the first of its kind in the US.

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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