Traverse City’s Economic Club is Prospering

TRAVERSE CITY – Bill Corbett, president of the Economic Club of Traverse City, is optimistic over numbers, especially when it comes to the club’s membership roll.

“Our club is prospering, with over 290 members,” he relates. “Our goal is 350.”

Founded in 1977 by a small group of local businessmen, the group incorporated in 1989, achieving tax-exempt status from the IRS in 1994. The club generally meets at the Traverse City Golf and Country Club on the fourth Friday of each month. Program Chair, Luke Hasse, says occasional exceptions to the Friday date are made when there are scheduling conflicts.

While the region’s rapid growth may be a contributing factor to the recent surge in membership, Corbett attributes much of the increase to other factors.

“I think business people have come to appreciate our concise meetings,” he says, noting that lunch is underway by noon and the meeting wrapped up by 1:15. “That’s important to members, most of whom are on tight schedules.”

Corbett also cites quality speakers as a factor in the club’s popularity–a sentiment echoed by Haase.

“From my perspective as a past member of the Detroit Economic Club, our own Traverse City group has truly carved out a niche for itself in the region,” he says. “And I think members and visitors alike will be pleasantly surprised to hear our slate of speakers.”

Haase says upcoming speakers include NASA astronaut Jerry Lininger (May 26); Tom Kern, Executive Director of the National Cherry Festival (June 30); MSU President M. Peter McPherson (Aug. 25), and one or two nationally-recognized individuals.

Guest speakers help achieve one of the club’s main purposes: “to promote an interest in, educate, discuss, and enlighten members and guests on important local, state, national and international governmental, business, economic and social issues.”

“We are fortunate in having a series of nationally-recognized speakers who bring us one-of-a-kind programs on finance, investing, the economic aspects of education and other basic fields, together with other subjects under the broad umbrella of economics,” says Corbett.

Each year the club sponsors an economically-themed essay contest open to the senior high students in the five-county region and NMC students. Awards of up to $1,000 are given to the best college essays and the two best high school entries. Essays are judged on originality, clarity, practicality of ideas and factual support. The club also donates $2,000 annually to the scholarship fund for economic students at NMC.

There are no membership requirements, other than each candidate must complete an application, which must be signed by two “sponsoring” members. Yearly dues are $125 and include seven to nine luncheon meetings and the very popular holiday dinner meeting. There is a $12 charge for guests, who are encouraged to attend.

For more information, call Susan Cogswell at 223-7862 or Bill Corbett at 933-6059.