Creative Coast Website: A space for newcomers, new talent and new ventures

A highlight of this summer for me was walking the pedestrian-only section of Front Street. I loved the excitement, energy – and yes, even the visitors – whose most common comment was, “This place is fantastic!”

Our new and returning visitors this summer looked at our region in a whole new light. Amidst the health and economic challenges, our area is a place where people feel safe, with a bit more space to spread out and a community that sticks together. They learned what residents already know: If you can choose to be anywhere, this is an excellent spot. We have an incredible opportunity – and an urgent need – to capitalize on this new spotlight.

Even with the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, our businesses cite filling job openings, talent development and recruiting as critical barriers to expanding and growing their company. The pandemic has only served to exacerbate pre-COVID challenges. Competing for existing local talent is all the more complicated – and the need to attract additional workers is all the more urgent.

Michigan’s Creative Coast, a new Traverse Connect initiative that debuted this summer, is designed to attract more talented people to the area by showcasing our region as a year-round economic destination and a center of creativity to Michigan, the Midwest and beyond. I am happy to share that many people have taken notice. We have nearly 800 subscribers to the Creative Coast newsletter, more than 700 Instagram followers and considerable buzz across social media.

We produced 12 episodes of the Creative Coast Podcast Series to highlight creative entrepreneurs and professionals in the Grand Traverse region. The series has received more than 2,000 downloads thus far, and broadcasts of the podcasts on Interlochen Public Radio this summer had an average weekly audience of 3,000 listeners.

On Oct. 1, Traverse Connect launches the next phase: the new Michigan’s Creative Coast website. This site will share the message of our region’s creative professionals and cultural vibrancy, expanding the impact of this message with specific efforts to recruit talented professionals, promote family-sustaining careers and connect newcomers with resources. Please mark and share this page:

The new website will be home to Creative Coast jobs. This platform focuses on careers in professional and scientific fields, the remote work and tech ecosystems, traded industries, and creative sectors. Creative Coast Jobs will include recruiting materials and links to content from partners such as 20Fathoms, TCNewTech and Networks Northwest.

The Creative Coast website will also highlight our newest talent attraction program, Northern Navigators. Northern Navigators are regional ambassadors who will connect with newcomers or potential newcomers to help them feel welcome, while offering knowledge of the region in terms of lifestyle, recreation, schools, healthcare, real estate, as well as industry and career opportunities.

Northern Navigators will be vetted, selected and trained to ensure a diverse and rich range of background, knowledge and industry, as well as a welcoming and friendly attitude. This personalized concierge service is intended to equip the newcomer with knowledge of the area and to get them quickly plugged into a network and the community.

The Creative Coast website and other ongoing efforts will redefine our region as a place for entrepreneurs and year-round employment opportunities in tech, trade and creative industries. It will also demonstrate that we are open to new ideas, new people and new growth initiatives.

Our visitors this summer – and those that wished they could visit – have their eye on the Grand Traverse region. They may have grown up here, vacationed here, or have a family connection to the place. They may be remote workers or city dwellers who wish to improve their quality of life, start a new career, move their business, or start a new venture. Regardless, they want to create a life here.

We can harness this opportunity to help our existing businesses with the workforce they need to thrive and to expand the career options for the talent we currently have, all while leveraging our world-class cultural assets to drive growth and development.

Warren Call is the president/CEO of Traverse Connect, a regional economic development organization that includes the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and Venture North. Contact him at