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

Northern Lakes Economic Symposium & Showcase

Join in the local economic and community development discussion with regional and state leaders. 

The inaugural Northern Lakes Economic Symposium & Annual Showcase is a forum for local and state government officials, community and business leaders, area entrepreneurs, chamber members, educational leaders and everyone involved in the economic vitality of our region for sharing of knowledge of the economic drivers of the region, networking, and celebration.

The focus of this year’s event will be Michigan’s “Blue Water Economy” which provides roughly 1 in 5, or nearly one million Michigan jobs, and $60 billion in annual economic impact for the citizens of our state. Northern Lower Michigan exemplifies the blue water economy because it is blessed with an unparalleled quantity and quality of water. The term “blue water economy” refers to all the industries and jobs that rely on the quantity and quality of water, ranging from agriculture to outdoor recreation to downhill skiing to craft beverages. Our region has the potential to sustainably leverage our waters for economic and community development that uplifts residents of Northern Lower Michigan.

Symposium attendees will hear from state officials and experts with a deep understanding of how to leverage the blue water economy. Breakout rooms will give attendees the chance to choose from multiple rooms with professionals in various fields that are integral to our area: blue water economy, energy, craft beverage, and business and talent attraction.


2022 NLEA Economic Symposium and Showcase Event Flyer



8:00am-Doors Open: Registration, Continental Breakfast, and Networking

9:00am– Program begins with guest speakers:

  • John Austin, Michigan Economic Center, University of Michigan, Brookings Institution
  • Brad Garmon, Michigan DNR’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry
  • Quentin Messer, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

11:00am-Breakout session

Choice of:

1. Blue Water Economy– In Northern Lower Michigan, our biggest strength might just be our water. Countless local jobs and businesses rely on the quantity and quality of our water, and public access to lakes and rivers attracts new residents to the area. Join a discussion with blue water economy researchers, instructors, and professionals on how to sustainably leverage our natural strength.

  • John Austin, Michigan Economic Center, University of Michigan, Brookings Institution
  • Mark Breederland, MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant
  • Hans VanSumeren, Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Water Studies Institute
  • Katie Wolf, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

2.Future of Energy in Michigan-Join Consumers Energy experts to learn about the future of energy in Michigan with a focus on renewable energy supplies, the anticipated growth in electric vehicles in the state, and the economic impacts this will have.

3. Business and Talent Attraction: Growing the Pie-Business and talent attraction, one cannot be done without the other. New businesses attract new workers and families to local communities, helping to address local labor challenges. However, businesses on the move are looking for labor in their new location, making it hard to convince them to relocate. Hear from economic development professionals about how using business and talent attraction strategies in tandem can benefit your community.

  • Mary Myers, Lake Superior Community Partnership
  • Todd Dickerson, Oscoda Township Economic Improvement
  • Shanna Shananaquet, Odawa Economic Affairs Holding Corporation

4. Craft Beverage: An Innovative and Growing Industry-Regional growth in the beverage manufacturing industry is outpacing the national economy. The industry cultivates local entrepreneurs and attracts new ones to the area with both groups launching innovative businesses and products. Hear from some of those entrepreneurs about what makes our region special, how we can support this growing industry, and what the future may hold for it.

12:00pm-Lunch and NLEA Showcase Awards

12:30pm– Program continuation and closing remarks. Event ends at 1:00pm.

Special thank you to our premier event sponsor Consumers Energy.

Core Partners

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