Angie Morgan

Angie Morgan facilitates a discussion.

TRAVERSE CITY — The COVID-19 pandemic changed operations for nearly every business.

Networks Northwest is changing right along with it.

A new virtual business summit April 28 will focus on getting back to business after COVID-19.

“Lead. Grow. Hire. Advance. Tools for a Changing Economy” is hosted by Networks Northwest in partnership with Northwest Michigan Works!, the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the Northwest Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) and the Global Trade Alliance of Northwest Michigan.

The four-hour summit will begin at 8:30 a.m.

“We’re excited to offer this event,” Networks Northwest Chief Program Officer Terry Vandercook said of the inaugural event.

“There have been a lot of challenges for businesses through the last year coping with the pandemic. The economy was changed and continues to change. We wanted to offer businesses in our region an opportunity to evolve with those changes and possibly get ahead of those if they can.”

Keynote speaker for the event is Angie Morgan of Traverse City. Morgan is the co-author of “Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success” and “Leading From the Front: No-Excuse Leadership Tactics for Women.” The book “Bet on You” is scheduled for release in February 2022.

Morgan is the co-founder of the leadership program Lead Star. A 1993 graduate of Kalkaska High School, Morgan has lived in Traverse City since 2013.

“How Leaders Leverage Risk to Win” is the title of her address, which is scheduled to run 8:45-9:45 a.m. Her focus will be:

  • Misconceptions about risk (and how its holding you back)
  • Embracing uncertainty and making decisions that lead to progress
  • Best practices for building resiliency

“I’m impressed with the level of creativity, innovation and agility demonstrated in our community amidst COVID-19; it’s on par, and in many cases better, than what we’ve been observing on a national stage,” Morgan said in a release. “There’s still so much opportunity, though, for businesses to continue to take risks. I’m honored to speak at this conference and share ways that leaders can bet on themselves as they lead their businesses to the better days ahead.”

Morgan said she will tap into some of her global consultation experience and deliver it on a regional level.

“We all want to experience the gifts of resiliency as a result of the pandemic experience,” Morgan said in a phone interview. “We want it to mean something in the post-pandemic world.”

Following the keynote address are 12 informational sessions. Scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., the sessions will run 20 minutes along three tracks: Diversify Your Customer Base, Getting Back to Business and The Talent Pipeline.

“The idea there is we want to assist as many industries and businesses in the region as we can,” Vandercook said. “We want to provide a lot of information in a short amount of time.”

“It’s a great schedule that they’ve pulled together,” Morgan said of the summit agenda. “There are so much our business leaders need right now as we navigate through the pandemic and the post-pandemic world.”

The 12 sessions with speech topics:

Track 1

  • “U.S. Federal Government is the Largest Buyer in the World,” Cathy Fairbanks, Regional Director Northwest Michigan PTAC
  • “Doing Business Internationally Doesn’t Have To Be Foreign,” Chris Bosio, International Trade Manager for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
  • “Export Connections through the Global Trade Alliance,” Rob Dickinson, Regional Export Network Program Manager at Networks Northwest
  • “Taking Advantage of Your Small Business Status,” Cathy Fairbanks

Track 2

  • “Retail Stores Pivoting to Online Sales,” Tim Rehard, MI-SBDC Contract Business Consultant
  • “Focus Four — The Small Business Management System,” Michael L. Gay, MI-SBDC Business Growth Consultant
  • “Making the Case to Find Time for Employee Training — Pay Now or Pay Later!” Gretchen Swanson, MI-SBDC Business Consultant
  • “Setting ‘Real Life’ Goals,” Annie Olds, Northwest Michigan SBDC Regional Director

Track 3

  • “The Current Labor Market,” Nick Gandhi, Economic Analyst for the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, Department of Technology, Management, and Budget for the State of Michigan
  • “Registered Apprenticeships,” Evelyn Szpliet, Manager of Apprenticeships & Business Resource Networks for Northwest Michigan Works!
  • “The Benefits of an Educated Workforce,” Christina Luckey-Nelson, Regional Director of Adult Education for the Northwest Michigan Works! Learning Labs
  • “Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Job Seekers with the Offender Success Program,” Jessica Willis, Offender Success Regional Director for Networks Northwest

“We’re very pleased to have the speakers that we have,” Vandercook said of the diverse topics for the Virtual Job Summit.

Each of the tracks will include a virtual ‘booth’ available for more information.

“Throughout the day we’ll have three ‘Ask the Experts’ booths available as well,” Vandercook said. “As attendees complete any of these 12 sessions, they’ll go into individual booths — virtually of course — to continue the conversation.”

The inaugural event is scheduled to conclude at 12:30 p.m. The cost to attend is $30.

Registration and more information are available at

“There have been a lot of challenges for businesses through the last year coping with the pandemic.” Networks Northwest Chief Program Officer Terry Vandercook

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