The Traverse City Area Chamber believes, and evidence seems to confirm, that communities function better when there is a strong working relationship between local governments and the business community they represent. To that end, the Chamber of Commerce is closely following Grand Traverse County’s search for a new county administrator, and stands ready to help new county leadership reach the highest levels of effective local governance.
The Chamber recently asked dozens of local business leaders what qualities they would like to see in the next Grand Traverse County administrator. The input received was reasoned, thorough, and surprisingly consistent. A couple of patterns came through – we need leadership with ability to create a culture throughout county government that is growth and service oriented, and the need to enhance and improve communication between county commissioners, county staff, and especially with the public.
Grand Traverse County is among the fastest growing municipalities in Michigan. County leadership needs to embrace and welcome the challenge of being in a desirable and increasingly vibrant region by creating a culture that’s nimble yet consistent, ready for growth and development, and willing to work with those who are ready to invest in this community. Whether that’s through new businesses, housing opportunities, workforce development or meeting the infrastructure needs of a growing region, we need a county government that can quickly respond and adapt to the changing dynamics of our regional economy.
Strong communication skills will also play an important role in the next administrator’s success. Whether it involves communications among county commissioners, with other elected and appointed officials, or among the county’s hundreds of employees, a successful county administrator must be able to articulate the county’s plans and vision with clarity and purpose.
Likewise, the next county administrator needs to develop an open and transparent relationship with the public, local media, other community leaders – and with the business sector. It’s paramount that the administrator engage the business community and be willing to assist on efforts already underway, as well as take a lead role again in efforts that are stuck or in need of intergovernmental support.
Other desirable skills were also identified including a strong background in finance and economic development, political leadership, and the ability to foster collaboration. But a visionary county leader that can help make this an investment and talent-ready community with the skills to articulate that vision will go a long way toward building Grand Traverse County’s reputation as place where citizens – and employers – can enjoy an unmatched quality of life while having the tools and resources to build a business and connect seamlessly all over the state, nation, and world.
Kent Wood is the Director of Government Relations for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org