Collaboration key to attracting ‘creative talent’ to TC region

Jenell Leonard

Monday, July 24, 2017

A new initiative from the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office builds on the promise of further developing Traverse City's economy.

This week, thousands of visitors will attend the Traverse City Film Festival. The annual celebration of film and storytelling has an immense and direct benefit to the local business community of restaurants, hotels and retailers, and offers compelling proof of the economic possibilities of one of the most stunning locations in the world.

Natural beauty, culture and economic possibilities are at the core of the appeal of the Traverse City region. And, a new initiative from the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office builds on the promise of further developing the regional economy.

Creative Chambers elevates the appeal of the Traverse City region to those who work in the creative industries, including film, design, creative technology (app developers, website designers, etc.), advertising/marketing along with the visual and performing arts. Creative services, of course, are integrated in nearly every type of business, from manufacturing to hotel-and-leisure to e-commerce, and are essential to any successful private enterprise in the Digital Age.

With the end of the film credits incentive program two years ago, the MFDMO expanded its scope to support ways to create jobs in the creative industries. A major focus of the statewide effort is millennials (those between the ages of 18-32) who want to work and live in communities that are vibrant and engaging – places distinguished by a range of social and contemporary residential options and commercial/shopping, entertainment and recreational experiences.

Places like Traverse City.

Working hand-in-hand with the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, the MF&DMO has provided $300,000 over three years for the formation of the Traverse City Creative Chamber, made up of members drawn from the local business, culture and creative community. In upcoming weeks, members will be named to the 14-person group, and shortly thereafter, a unique campaign will reflect that many ways those working in the creative industries can find a place to call home in northern Michigan.

Jenell Leonard

Foremost, the Creative Chamber is charged with facilitating a creative talent attraction approach that supports the employment needs of the regional economy. After all, no one knows the needs of the Traverse City business community better than local employers.

Traverse City is one of five communities in the $1.5 million statewide talent initiative. Other communities include Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Marquette.

The partnership between MFDMO and these five communities aims to build the brand, “Michigan: State of Creativity,” as a means to cultivate a positive reputation for the region and state, where 90,000 are employed in the creative industries, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To succeed in the emerging economy, communities must grasp the dynamic at the heart of economic change – innovation. Creative Chambers is not only an innovative approach to attracting creative types, but a reflection of the premium placed on creativity as an essential trait that has defined Michigan economic success.

Indeed, innovation and creativity are the heartbeat of the ongoing transformation of the state’s economy. And with the Creative Chambers, Traverse City is taking a strategic step to be prepared for the economic challenges ahead.

Click to watch “Michigan: State of Creativity” video

Jenell Leonard is commissioner of the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

This article/opinion originally published in Traverse City Record-Eagle, July 23, 2017

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