Growing Business. Building Community.

Mining the Millennial Workforce

Communities across the country are creating new ways of seeking out and connecting workforce talent in the creative fields, and the new state-wide “Creative Chambers” initiative will bring those strategies to the Grand Traverse region.

Creative Chambers is a state-wide job-creation initiative created through the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that focuses on building the states’ creative industries. Its goal is to retain and attract talent to Traverse City and Michigan, and is designed as a response to contemporary job consideration realities. Specifically, the program addresses what type of communities are attractive to millennials (between the ages of 18 and 32), who want to live, work and play in vibrant, engaging areas.

Jenell Leonard, Commissioner of the Michigan Film & Digital Media office, noted that Michigan ranks 46th among the 50 states for workers in the age range from 18-35. She also said that currently half of Michigan’s college graduates are leaving the state after getting out of school.

“We need to reverse that trend,” Leonard said. “We have to attract, and we have to retain our talent.”

The Creative Chambers program is charged with developing a creative talent attraction approach that supports the employment needs of the regional economy based on the input from the Traverse City business community and local employers. Traverse City is one of five communities in the $1.5-million statewide talent initiative. Other communities include Ann Arbor/Washtenaw County, Detroit, Grand Rapids and Marquette.

The premise of the statewide initiative is simple: A strong creative community and industry are essential for any city to be competitive and economically sustainable in today’s market. Creativity is an essential part of the state’s heritage of innovation which can be seen from the automotive industry to the arts, and further building the creative economy is a central part of fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and culture that makes Michigan a great place to live and work.

Considering the geographic and cultural diversity of the state, Creative Chambers offers a tailored approach to specifically attracting and retaining talent that works in the many creative industry occupations.

Creative Chambers is designed to elevate the appeal of the Traverse City region to those who work in the creative industries, including film, design, creative technology (app developers, website designers, etc.), advertising/marketing along with the visual and performing arts. It’s set up as a pilot program that’s a flexible, but uniformed approach utilizing community input to determine the best way to promote a region’s assets and employment opportunities for creative types while connecting to the broader economic statewide trends.

Creative services, of course, are integrated in nearly every type of business – from manufacturing, to travel and tourism, retail, food and beverage, the service sector and even agriculture.

Two years ago, the MFDMO expanded its scope to support ways to create jobs in the creative industries. A major focus of the statewide effort is millennials who want to work and live in communities that are vibrant and engaging – places distinguished by a range of social and contemporary residential options and commercial/shopping, entertainment and recreational experiences.

Working with Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, the MF&DMO has provided $300,000 over three years for the formation of the Traverse City Creative Chamber, made up of members drawn from the local business, culture and creative community.

Wood said the Grand Traverse region is an ideal location to launch such an initiative.

“Creative jobs are really in demand in Northern Michigan right now,” Wood told the Michigan Film Advisory Council at its meeting in Traverse City this week. “At the same time, Traverse City has a lot going for it, both in economic development and a quality of life standpoint….we know that this is a desirable community – not only to visit, but to live.”

In the coming weeks, members will be named to the 14-person group that will create a unique campaign to reflect the many ways those working in the creative industries can find a place to call home in northern Michigan.

The partnership between MFDMO and these five communities aims to build the brand, “Michigan: State of Creativity,” as a means to cultivate a positive reputation for the region and state, where 90,000 are employed in the creative industries, according to the Michigan Bureau of Labor Statistics. Follow your Chamber communications for updates on the Creative Chambers program.