Let Us Reintroduce Ourselves: Meet the new Traverse Connect

Companies must continually evolve to stay relevant. They must be innovative, change with customer preferences and societal demands and address competitive economic factors.

This evolution is absolutely necessary for survival and can lead to new business structures, product strategies and new leadership. Firms can choose to be forward-thinking or reactive, but change is inevitable and organizations that take strategic steps to address change and implement solutions are better positioned to seize new opportunities and mitigate risk.

The Grand Traverse regional economy is no different – we must adapt as a region to address societal movements, technological evolution, shifting economic reality and changing workforce demands. TraverseCONNECT and the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce must adapt as well.

To reflect this shift, we have changed the name. Let me introduce the new Traverse Connect. Traverse Connect has worked closely with staff, board members and dozens of key stakeholders over the course of six months to create a thoroughly vetted and implementable strategic plan. This is not a study. It is a detailed action plan designed to address regional challenges: our lack of economic diversity and the decline of our core, working-age population.

The plan outlines how Traverse Connect will evolve to become the economic development organization for the Grand Traverse region. It contains detailed, measurable goals to ensure accountability. We will drive economic growth by serving as the dedicated quarterback on behalf of businesses looking to expand or relocate to the area. We will lead talent initiatives to attract, train and grow our workforce. We will develop a clear brand strategy to attract new businesses. These targeted economic development programs will be paired with revamped chamber of commerce services to ensure sustainable economic growth.

We will change the narrative: The Grand Traverse region is a place with competitive pay to match our high quality of life. Simply put, we will grow family-sustaining jobs.

Traverse Connect and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce are joining forces under one name and one brand to best position the organization as the regional economic development leader. Traverse Connect and the Traverse City Chamber leadership and operations will merge under the name Traverse Connect. The programs you know and have supported over the years will largely continue under the Traverse Connect name. Chamber programs are not going away; they will continue as a programmatic arm of Traverse Connect.

Traverse Connect will provide focused economic development services and traditional chamber advocacy and networking programs under one brand. Our partner organization, Venture North, will continue to provide access to capital and technical assistance to help local firms grow. Traverse Connect and Venture North will continue working closely together, within our respective missions, to drive economic growth in our region. Our programs will deliver tangible returns on investment to companies and organizations across the Grand Traverse region. Through investment in Traverse Connect, employers are investing in growing their business, strengthening their talent pool and building a unique brand for our region as an economic destination.

Change is critical to success in driving economic growth in our region. This is an action plan that respects the legacy of a historic chamber organization while implementing much-needed change to focus on efforts that best utilize our time, talent and assets to build a strong, bright future.

The evolution is already underway with new staff and program development and a focused effort to secure new direct investment before the end of 2019. Our streamlined structure will provide for an efficient implementation of our strategic priorities and more cost-effective return on investment to local businesses, key employers and our community. We are moving into 2020 with a reorganized, recapitalized and refocused strategy to spark changes that will drive economic growth and set up our region to be a place where businesses, employees and families thrive.

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 warren.call@traverseconnect.org.