On Monday, May 22, 2023, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance held its second annual Northern Lakes Economic Symposium & Showcase at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, Michigan. The event was attended by nearly 250 economic developers, business, and community representatives along with federal, state, and local elected and appointed leaders from across Northern Lower Michigan.
Focused on the topic of talent attraction, retention, and engagement, the symposium welcomed the following prominent experts: Dr. Michael Horrigan, President of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo; Dr. Peter Berg, noted human resource researcher and professor at Michigan State University; Dr. Ana Gonzales; Director of the Family Business Institute at Grand Valley State University; Brain Calley, former two-term Lieutenant Governor and current President and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan; and Quentin Messer Jr., President/CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and CEO of the Michigan Strategic Fund.
NLEA President David Emmel noted, “In just two years, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance has successfully launched Michigan’s premier economic symposium focused on community and economic development topics relevant to Northern Michigan. The focus of our event last year was on Michigan’s Blue Economy. This year’s event was intentionally focused on talent from a global, state, regional, and local lens as we direct our efforts to addressing the most significant issues facing our employers and drivers of our regional economy. It was an honor to have leading researchers and experts along with our state and regional economic development partners in Northern Michigan with all eyes focused on our region.”
The daylong event included keynote addresses by Dr. Horrigan and Brian Calley and eight breakout sessions featuring Drs. Berg and Gonzalez, Michele Wildman of the MEDC, and representatives of Networks Northwest, Northeast Michigan Council of Governments, Hello West Michigan, Michigan State Land Bank Authority, Housing North, Rehmann, Daifuku Jervis B Webb, Michigan Manufacturing and Technology Center, Tube Fab/Roman Engineering, Awakon Federal Credit Union, Beards Brewery/Fermenta, Shorts Brewing, Traverse City Whiskey Company, Biere De Mac Brew Works, Mackinaw Trial Winery & Brewery, and the City of Charlevoix.
The breakout sessions explored the following issues: Talent Attraction and Retention in the Craft Beverage Industry, Connecting with Talent as a Family-Owned Business, Building Desirable Communities to Attract Talent, Developing a Regional Talent Engagement Strategy, One Question With…Rehmann Advisors on Discovering Your Greatest Advantage, Responding to Shifting Workforce Demographics, and Supporting Community Development Initiatives for Housing and Talent Attraction.
During the Awards Showcase, the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance recognized and present awards for Economic Development Project of the Year to Daifuku-Jervis B Webb President Todd Alderman; Lifetime Achievement Award to recently retired President of the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, Chip Hansen; and the Guts & Grit award to Sarah Ford of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Community Foundation for their partnership approach to workforce housing project in the city of Petoskey.
The Symposium was capped off with a panel made up of Dr. Horrigan, Dr. Berg, Brian Calley, and Jacob Manthei, CEO of Aster Brands, and moderated by Quentin Messer Jr. of the MEDC.
Following the Symposium & Showcase, Boyne Mountain graciously provided attendees the opportunity to experience Michigan Skybridge by Boyne Mountain Resort.
The event was supported through a leadership gift by the Consumers Energy Foundation, with additional support for the DTE Foundation, ITC Holdings, Rehmann, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Boyne Mountain Resort.