TRAVERSE CITY — Deborah Wyatt Fellows faced a decision as the nation entered the Great Recession — stick with her successful print publishing business, or recreate and expand her operations into the arena of online businesses.
Fellows recalls having tears in her eyes when she told her staff in 2008 she had decided the company that publishes Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine, needed a greatly enhanced online presence. Five years later, the company will move to a new downtown location to accommodate its growing MyNorth.com, which includes a retail store and online ticket sales for Northern Michigan concerts, plays, events and tours.
"What a gift that was to have that bad economy because it forced us to step outside of what had been a very successful business model," Fellows said. "It was great that it pushed us the way it did, as absolutely nightmarish as it was."
The company, Prism Publications, Inc., has occupied second floor space at 148 E. Front St. since 1997. The company signed a lease to occupy most of the first floor of the Radio Centre II building on the corner of Park and State streets after Memorial Day.
"They wanted first-floor space in town so people could stop by and pick up their tickets," said Jerry Snowden, one of the developers of the Radio Centre buildings. "People can't find them now ... and this will improve signage and visibility."
The move will give the publishing, web design, and online operations an additional 1,000 square feet of space and a more open floor plan.
Snowden controls three potential new development projects in the downtown, including the corner of East State Street and Boardman Avenue, a riverfront parcel on West Front and Pine streets and the lot between Radio Centre I and Radio Centre II.
The Prism lease brings Radio Centre II up to 100 percent occupancy. Snowden said that makes it more likely Radio Centre III will happen, but he declined to discuss any pending projects.
"I will say the market has picked up dramatically in the last few months and there a lot of tenants looking for space and development opportunities," Snowden said.