Traverse City Working to Attract More Families, Talented Workers to Area

In a place as beautiful as Traverse City, it’s hard to believe so many people are leaving.

But a new population study has revealed some alarming trends in the Grand Traverse region.

Traverse City and surrounding areas are losing families and people in the workforce, while the elderly population has grown 31%.

Family-aged adults, 35-49, have decreased by 10%, according to TraverseCONNECT.

Now, city leaders are trying to come up with a plan to keep families in the area and attract new ones.

“We are concerned about people staying here,” said city manager Marty Colburn.  “You have a little bit of a flight of that — what I’ll call – middle-aged group.

Colburn says some of it may have to do with one person in a partnership relocating to the area for a job, and their spouse not being able to find work. Not enough young families are settling down here, either.

“Are there jobs for them? Are there the right jobs for them?” said Colburn. “[Young] people are not growing up here which means they’re not going to come back here.”

Part of the problem is that the cost of living is above state average while the median income is below state average. The area needs more jobs that keep people here.

Traverse City entrepreneurial incubator 20 Fathoms is trying to change that. The innovation hub works with startups to develop their ideas and create thriving local businesses.

They’ve been open for a year and created 100 high-paying jobs in the tech and business sectors already.

“We’re filling a demographic that Traverse City is a little light on,” said 20 Fathoms executive director Andy Cole. “These are people working in the tech space, people working on innovating in various areas.”

Cole wants to bring the best and brightest to the area, and he wants to also promote diversity.

“I want Traverse City to have a diverse array of people who are working in all different types of capacities,” said Cole.

With more and more people in technological industries being able to work remotely, Traverse City is an attractive place to move because of the quality of life it offers.

“Traverse City is being known, very quickly, as being the best small community in which and grow a business, across the country,” said Cole. “People of a certain, younger demographic are more able than ever to be in a place like Traverse City than they ever have before.”

The city wants to continue promoting private-public partnerships with businesses to work towards a common goal of more young people, and more talent locally.

The city says they want to work with state programs to increase business development in the area.