Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 15, 2013

Doug Luciani: Answer door when opportunity knocks

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The “buy local” movement is growing as consumers become more aware of the significant impact that local purchasing makes on a region’s economy.

Fortunately, “buy local” is gaining momentum in the corporate world as well. Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration made it a priority to persuade major Michigan-based companies to do more business with other Michigan operations in terms of procuring goods and services, maintenance contracts, supplier deals and more. The Pure Michigan Business Connect program has spawned numerous business relationships between major operations like Ford, Chrysler, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and DTE Energy with companies both large and small across Michigan.

Much of this activity has been centered in southern Michigan – but that’s changing too. Next month Consumers Energy and two of its partners will conduct a Business Connect event in Gaylord with the specific intention of spreading more of the utility’s work to companies based in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The potential economic impact of this event to northern Michigan’s business community is enormous. Consumers and its partners have close to 300 opportunities to work with other companies on a wide variety of needs, ranging from highly-technical parts production, engineering services, maintenance and repairs to basic services like trash removal and lawn care. Think of the economic impact of a small tool and die shop in Northern Michigan snaring a major supplier contract with an operation like Consumers Energy – and then multiply it several times over. Those connections lead to business expansion, new jobs, and keeping Consumers’ significant operational dollars circulating in this part of the Wolverine state.

Pure Michigan Business Connect is also user-friendly. Companies can check online for a list of needs and opportunities and quickly determine if there’s a service they can provide. After the online applications are reviewed, companies that are the best fit for those opportunities are invited to meet with the host companies – in this case Consumers – to discuss potential partnerships. The entire process requires a relatively minor time investment for what could result in a game-changing contract for a northern Michigan company.

Business Connect has also quickly developed a successful track record, with estimates of upwards of $8 billion in economic activity generated including $1 billion from the state’s two largest utilities. To have this initiative focused on northern Michigan for the first time is positive economic news indeed, and the Traverse City Area Chamber is excited to help organize and promote this effort.

But time is of the essence. The priority deadline to apply online is Sept. 23. Applications are available at and companies will be informed by Oct. 4 if they’ve been selected for a private interview at the Oct. 21 summit in Gaylord.

This is northern Michigan’s time to shine in one of the state’s most successful economic development initiatives in recent memory. Don’t miss out on the opportunity.

Doug Luciani is President & CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Contact him by email at