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2017 Grand Traverse Manufacturing Summit: Inspiration from Innovation

Matt Schwarze, Business Development AssistantMatt Schwarze

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." This quote by Theodore Levitt, an American economist and professor at the Harvard Business School, summarizes what the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council is all about. The Council encourages individuals to think outside the box and provide the resources to innovate and make great things. The innovation-themed third annual Manufacturing Summit, which took place in Traverse City in early March, allowed the Council to gather manufacturers under the same roof to collaborate with and be inspired by each other and ultimately provided direction to the Council for the upcoming year.

The Summit included breakout sessions featuring innovative ways to engage students, innovation in the workplace, and regional resources for innovators. TC New Tech, the Front Street Irregulars, Newton’s Road, Michigan Crossroads Council, Quarkmine, and the Manufacturing Technology Academy were among the presenters in these sessions. Financial resources were also shared by Venture North, the Grand Traverse County Economic Development Corporation, and Northern Initiatives. These regional resources help local companies become more competitive and grow by working together.

Collaboration is key in the manufacturing community with companies sharing best practices and utilizing available resources."The manufacturing industry in northwestern lower Michigan is an underappreciated asset,” said Corey Geer, outgoing chair of the Council and CFO of Shoreline Fruit. “More than 500 companies in the ten-county region use advanced technology, digital and physical, to make a diverse set of world-class products and provide more than 8,000 jobs at the kind of pay that enables career-building in our region. Additionally, manufacturing's multiplier effect benefits all companies in the region."

Added Jon Dreher, vice president of manufacturing at TentCraft and new Council chair, "Manufacturers know that the future belongs to innovators. The Council is a member-driven organization. We feel the hunger to learn, lead, and grow."

The Summit boasted record numbers at this year’s event with more than 110 attendees, a 25 percent increase from 2016. The Council’s executive committee received “tremendous feedback” from the participants and is hoping to see many of the suggested ideas come to life. With a solid leadership team willing to volunteer their time, a core group of manufacturers collaborating on a regular basis, and all of this momentum, innovation is inevitable. This is going to be a great year for the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council, and we want you to be a part of it. Please join us for our monthly Council meetings; the next one is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17, 2017, from 7:30-9:00 AM at NMC’s Parsons-Stulen Building.

Look for more information in the coming weeks about the upcoming Supplier Day on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, where you can learn more about possible suppliers and vendors to meet your company’s needs.

For more information on the Council or these events, please contact Matt Schwarze at or (231) 995-2009.

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