6 great places for northern newcomers to mingle and make plans

New to the northern Michigan scene and eager to meet the business community? Or thinking about an Up North move and want some rock-solid advice and assistance to get your business off the ground? Check out the groups below for meeting, greeting and some tried and true Up North business insight:

Traverse City Young Professionals:

"YP-ers" for short, this group of professionals ages 21 to 40 organized a couple of years ago for networking and social and professional development, and now number some 700 strong. They have their own book club, provide volunteer opportunities around the community, and host a myriad of events, including "undercover night out," "lunch and learn" and family fun nights. The coordinator is Allison Beers, who also is owner of Events North in town. Connect with her and the group at tcchamber.org.

Traverse City Area

Chamber of Commerce:

If you're a new business owner, the chamber (tcchamber.org) is at the ready with a host of services, from publicity and cost-savings plans to professional development and community involvement. It offers a tiered membership model starting at $255 annually. The organization is led by Doug Luciani, the chamber president since 2003.

The chamber also hosts a Business After Hours on the third Wednesday of every month at different locations around town. These events regularly attract more than 200 professionals, and it's a great place to make some easy connections. This month, track them down on the 17th from 5 to 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Bank downtown.

Other local chambers that also hold monthly Business After Hours include Benzie County, Elk Rapids, Interlochen, Kalkaska County and Leelanau County.

Gen Netxt:

With their name a play on how they like to communicate (texting), the Leelanau County version of the TC "YP-ers" is a smaller, nascent group of "young professionals, entrepreneurs and forward thinkers" focused on the sustainable future of Grand Traverse County's neighboring county to the northwest. Dr. Jessica Carden, owner of Revive Chiropractic in Glen Arbor, is one of the group's organizers. Activities tend to be family-focused as an alternative to Business After Hours functions, which she says can be more difficult for professionals with young families to attend. The tech-savvy way to connect with this group is to "friend" it on Facebook.

Small Business and

Technology Development Center (SBTDC):

The Traverse City office of this statewide network offers counselors who have gone through a Small Business Academy and teams of consultants that work statewide to address technology, fast growth and manufacturing companies. Among its priorities for small businesses: developing business strategy, building management teams and preparing funding asks. Chris Wendel is the regional director and can be reached at 231.922.3780. Wendel also writes a business blog found at upnorthbusiness.wordpress.com and you can hear him discuss small business topics on a weekly radio show on WMKT. gvsu.edu/misbtdc/region2.


Got a business or marketing plan? Need cash flow projections? Make a visit to the local chapter of SCORE. While it works with both new and established businesses, SCORE tends to assist more start-up organizations. The volunteer-run group offers business veterans and professionals with specific areas of expertise (i.e. accountants, bankers, attorneys) and also runs a series of entrepreneurial classes. It's free and there's no limit on the number of advice-seeking meetings. You can use the online scheduler at upnorthscore.com to make an appointment or call 888.796.4913.

Traverse City Business News' RECESS:

Held the last Wednesday of the month from January through October, this casual, after-work gathering attracts upwards of 100 people. It is light on nametags and formal handshakes, but heavy on the relaxing, chatting and connecting. Check out tcbusinessnews.com for March's RECESS location. BN