GTPulse: Creative Coast Works To Attract New Creative Talent To Traverse

What drew you to move to the Traverse area? Maybe you grew up here, or maybe you vacationed here as a kid and it stuck with you. For me and many of the friends I’ve made during my time here we came to work. Despite meeting many great and inspiring professionals up here, my friends from back home are always under the illusion that Traverse City is a lovely place to vacation or retire. While I agree with those things I don’t agree with leaving out the fact that this is a great place for creatives and professionals of all kinds to make a life. Leading the initiative on attracting and retaining more creatives and young professionals to the area is Creative Coast, a new program by Traverse Connect that’s funded by the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office.

This isn’t the first initiative that Traverse Connect has created for young people in the area. Traverse City Young Professionals is also through Traverse Connect. Director of Marketing and Communications Katherine DeGood said that it’s an intentional part of the larger Traverse Connect mission. After merging with the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, they began strategizing with young professionals in mind.

“With that strategic plan, there are four kinds of key pillars and talent, attraction, and retention is one of those. So with that being one of our key pillars, our mission right now is focused, as an organization is to provide family-sustaining careers to build the economic vitality of the region. And so we’re really looking at growing based on a lot of data that’s been looked at over the years. In the last 10 years, we’ve lost some of the working-age population, basically this 35 to 49 age range. We are really looking at kind of building that next generation of people who are making things here or doing things here, who are creating a life here and trying to grow that population with the goal of trying to reach growth by 2030. Basically, we’re looking at these next 10 years as being really pivotal for the economic growth of the region,” she said.

Creative Coast is another facet of that strategy. The project launched this past June and is lead by Head of Strategic Projects Camille Hoisington. Creative Coast began with a 12 part podcast series featuring some of the varied and extraordinary creative talent in the area.

“Because there are so many creative entrepreneurs up here. It was more a process of how do we whittle down this big list that we have?” she said.

There are 12 episodes to coincide with12 featured creative industries. Featured subjects included a painter, sculptor, fashion designer, software developers and more.

Up next for the project is a Creative Coast Guide that will feature all sorts of creative professionals and entrepreneurs in the area. They partnered with Chris and Nick Loud from local outdoor lifestyle and creative culture magazine The Boardman Review on the guide that will be coming out at the end of the month. Camille and Nick had met beforehand and talked about the possibility of featuring all the creative talent in the area.

“We were like, maybe we could do 100 great creatives in the Grand Traverse region. And we just kind of left it at that. And then when we came to January, we had this opportunity for funding, I thought, what if we did that thing I was talking about with Nick? It was a very natural partnership. We approached them, and they were really excited about it,” Camille said.

They’re excited about the opportunity too. They’ve been community leaders in fostering creative culture in the region.

“Young, local creative talent is really what keeps this place fresh and ever-evolving. From your favorite coffee shop, to that mural you saw near the farmers market, to the music you listened to last night at a brewery. It’s something that fuels us all to think outside the box and approach the world a little differently. It also creates an environment that is very supportive of entrepreneurs, which leads to growth in our economy and increases our quality of living. It’s very exciting to think we have the opportunity to not only attract other creatives to this region with this project, but to also support and further connect our existing creatives that make this community so vibrant. It’s really a win-win in our minds, and aligns so well with what we try to do with The Boardman Review,” Nick said.

The guide is meant to be an aid to businesses and people looking to hire someone for creative work, but it’s also meant to be something that might catch the eye of someone visiting the area.

“At the same time, we want it to be a really beautiful thing that someone can pick up. It’ll be an actual physical printed book that will feel nice, it will look nice. So someone visiting the area might pick it up in a store, flip through it, and they’ll get a feeling and a taste for what kind of culture and artistic talent we have here. It’s, again, that idea that it’s showcasing our region as a great place to be a creative entrepreneur.”

Upcoming features of the Creative Coast include a website and a new program called Northern Navigators. The website will be a hub for info and job postings in the area. Job postings across all the forums floating around online can be cost-prohibitive to employers and applicants, but the Creative Coast board won’t charge people to post jobs or apply to them.

“It’s going to be a concerted effort on behalf of all of the employers up here. The jobs board will be free to use, which is really important,” Camille said.

Northern Navigators is an answer to those new incoming professionals. It can be hard to get acclimated to a new area, especially when you don’t know anyone yet. I had very tolerant coworkers who welcomed me, quirks and all, but times have changed, and interaction has become more strained as of late. Because attracting new talent is important to Creative Coast, they knew they needed to provide a landing space for people interested in moving here. Northern Navigators is a group of 12 young professionals in the area that will help newcomers get up to speed on all things food, fun, outdoors, and culture here. Kind of like a hybrid friend-concierge-area mentor. That will kick off sometime next month.

With the bustling creative community here, it’s an honorable goal to expand that. I always talk about how many creatives have fallen in love with this place, and how we’ll never know how many ideas were inspired by the beauty of our region. Those who live and work here already know what a special place it is and Creative Coast is showing the light to others, one newcomer at a time. Be on the lookout for their upcoming Creative Coast Guide and website.

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Categories: GTPulse