Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Business magazine's Fall 2018 issue. For more stories from the magazine, click here to read GT Business in its entirety online.
Some national retail chains reportedly launched holiday shopping season hiring efforts months ago in hopes they could attract retail talent before their competitors swooped in.
Employers in northwest Lower Michigan are familiar with the national chains’ plight. It’s been getting difficult to find hard-working employees, not just in retail, but across most industries.
Particularly schooled in the issue of finding and keeping qualified workers, landscaping companies that also plow snow face the employee-retention issue season after season. They hire someone to trim lawns in the summer and would like the same worker to drive a snowplow in the winter. But there’s that pesky shoulder season when neither service is in high demand. A similar lull sprouts up in the springtime. It’s a challenge to keep workers on the payroll when there isn’t enough work to keep them productive.
But a bevy of such dual-season companies do business in the four-season wonderland of northern Michigan. We get the inside scoop on the trade from the owners of a few of these season-after-season operations in this issue of Grand Traverse Business. Read the story on Page 32.
Seasonality always has been a fact of life for many business sectors in the Grand Traverse region. Hotels, boat rentals, ice cream parlors, mini-golf courses and snowmobile dealers all are used to bursts of activity followed by inevitable lulls. Managers need to plan ahead, a chore that becomes harder as costs rise across the board. Some types of businesses are finding creative ways to smooth out the seasonal bumps, ski resorts that double as golf resorts, for example.
Some industries, though, cruise along at a steady pace all year long. Efforts continue on multiple fronts to keep the local economy growing.
Columnist Casey Cowell in this issue writes about how a federally qualified Opportunity Zone, created as part of tax law signed at the end of 2017, makes a certain area in Garfield Township particularly attractive to investors. The Opportunity Zone legislation reduces investors’ exposure to capital gains tax without affecting local government revenue. The aim is to attract investment and development in certain locations. Read Cowell’s take on the resulting opportunities for investors, and for the region, on Page 5.
Columnist Kent Wood writes about how the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance are lobbying for legislation that would aid area businesses and hinder legislation that could harm them. They aim to support local enterprise over the long term. Read Woods’ explanation of the process on Page 42.
Other stories in this issue explore a car dealership that has been in the same family for four generations, a busy roofing company, a family-owned eatery in Honor and a Traverse City company that sells recreational vehicle products to dealers across North America.
All these businesses depend on hard-working employees. They depend on cooks, servers, welders, assemblers, drivers and carpenters. People who can swing a hammer or flip a flapjack are in demand not just in northwest Lower Michigan, but across the nation.