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

Successful Annual Northern Lakes Economic Symposium and Showcase

By: Sam Bailey, Strategic Initiatives Manager

On Friday, May 13th , the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance welcomed approximately 250 attendees to the first annual Northern Lakes Economic Symposium and Showcase at Boyne Mountain Resort! The event 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 to gather and share knowledge, network, and celebrate the region. Through a combination of keynote addresses and breakout sessions, attendees delved into topics integral to community and economic development in Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet Counties. This year, the event’s theme was the blue water economy and attendees heard keynote addresses from John Austin of the Michigan Economic Center and Brad Garmon of Michigan’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry. Breakout sessions consisted of discussions with experts on the Blue Water Economy, Craft Beverage Industry, Future of Energy, and Business and Talent Attraction from the academic, business, and nonprofit sectors. Following the morning program, attendees returned to the Matterhorn Room for the Awards Showcase and a community visioning process.

While the Symposium component of the event was focused on future opportunities for the region, the Showcase was focused on the exciting happenings of the past year. Awards highlighted individuals and organizations involved in work and projects that further economic
and community improvement in the region.

Tom Teske of EJ received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing commitment to our region, represented by a 45-year career with EJ where he rose to the position of Vice President and Regional Manager of the Americas and his 25 years of volunteering with the East Jordan Downtown Development Authority, Rotary, and Northern Michigan Ski Academy.

Industrial Magnetics Inc. of Boyne City received the Project of the Year Award for its recent $3.5 million dollar expansion which is anticipated to create 46 new jobs and retain 68 existing jobs. When businesses invest in our region, that investment ripples out into the community through construction wages, new hires, utilities’ revenue, better work environments, workforce attraction, and more.

The Community of Mancelona received the Guts and Grit Award for their impressive downtown revival, advancement of the housing conversation, and unique economic development opportunities. For their efforts in Mancelona, both Village President Mike Allison and Mancelona Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Joanie Moore received special recognition.

The NLEA is proud to have put on an event that feeds economic and community development in the region. Keynote speaker John Austin shared his thoughts on the event:

“Clearly the northern Michigan community is organized and engaged around how best to map an economically vibrant future, building on its unique natural assets and location astride our Great Lakes. The Northern Lakes Economic Alliance is well positioned to build on the region’s already robust ‘blue economy’ and as a truly special place to live, work, play, run a business, and raise a family.”

The NLEA is currently gathering feedback from attendees to inform future events and the goals and objectives of the organization. Please email with your feedback. We look forward to seeing you in 2023 at the second annual Northern Lakes Economic Symposium and Showcase.



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