Just two or three years ago, while Michigan was still suffering a hangover from the Great Recession, it would have been hard to imagine that Benzie County would be home to a host of new businesses.
Things were, to put it nicely, flat. Few individuals were investing in a local economy that seemed to be treading water, like much of Michigan.
But one by one, some gutsy entrepreneurs are opening new businesses that are bringing new interest — and some much-needed jobs and dollars — to Benzie.
Frankfort, perched on Lake Michigan on Betsie Bay, is seeing a lot of action. Stormcloud Brewing Company recently opened its doors, Glenwood Market opened in late May, Cru Cellars Michigan, a wine bar and emporium, opened on Main Street, Petals and Perks opened in May, and Bay Sport Rentals, a kayak and bike rental shop, will debut later this year.
In Honor, the new Platte River Inn, an upscale restaurant along U.S. 31, has created a lot of buzz. It is seen as a key component in a long-term effort to breathe new life into the village.
Benzie County Chamber of Commerce president Mary Carroll said some longtime residents who have wanted to open a business for some time are finding that this is the time and Benzie is the place.
It seemed inevitable that Benzie, with its wealth of natural resources - including a big hunk of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Crystal Lake, the Platte and Herring lake systems, the Betsie River and Betsie Bay, plus miles of Lake Michigan shoreline — would eventually see some of the economic revitalization that has happened elsewhere across the region.
But it has taken a while, and there had to be times when some in the county had to wonder when it would be Benzie’s turn.