M22: More than just a highway; it represents Northern Michigan’s way of life

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — M22 is no longer just a 116.7-mile state highway that runs through Northern Michigan. The highway’s route marker is now a brand showing the pride that many people (both citizens and tourists alike) hold for Northern Michigan. A company going by the same name printed its first shirt in 2004, opened it’s first store in 2007, and now has over 40 employees between it’s two locations. Nick Madrick, the chief operating officer of M22, says, “In 2004 we had about two stock-keeping units and now we have over 200 in our line.

Journalism at Michigan State University

The Traverse City Film Festival: increased popularity and great opportunity for volunteers and interns

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Traverse City held the 13th consecutive Traverse City Film Festival July 25-30. The annual Northern Michigan festival, which began in 2005, had around 120,000 attendees this year. Meg Weichman, creative director at TCFF, says, “With the addition of new venues, as well as word getting out about what a great festival we have, we have seen both community and regional support, as well as national interest increase.”

Weichman says, “The TCFF is something Traverse City is very proud of. It is a true example of our community coming together to create something magical and special for our area, not only in terms of economic impact, but cultural and social as well.

Gymnastics is leaping in popularity in Northern Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A local gymnastics gym, Grand Traverse Bay Gymnastics, has been leaping with success. The gym separated from the YMCA three years ago and has been home to over 2,300 gymnasts in the past year. Jennifer Van Deinse, who has been the head coach for 10 years, says, “I believe that the success of Grand Traverse Bay Gymnastics can be attributed to our love for the sport and our desire to help each individual who attends our program reach their highest potential. We strive for excellence every day and teach our athletes to do the same.”

Owner Betsy Van Deinse says, “I love to watch our gymnasts grow and work hard to achieve their dreams. Gymnastics takes a great deal of mental and physical fortitude, so to witness how these young athletes train and fight to reach their goals is incredibly gratifying and awe-inspiring.”

Laurence Chalip, professor and head of recreation at University of Illinois, says, “In terms of the benefits the gym gained while being on it’s own, it really depends on the value of it’s autonomy.

A Northern Michigan school district promotes diversity in a non-diverse region

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Northern Michigan is not a very diverse region, which is reflected in the extremely small percentage of different ethnicities in Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS). Shown here are the total numbers of students of each ethnicity via Mary Beth Stein, a student services coordinator at TCAPS. Below are the numbers from the 2010 census year. Gina McPherson, a preschool teacher at TCAPS, has a lot of experience with this.

More people + more things to do = more 911 calls in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Although it may not be surprising, 911 calls increase during times of tourism peaks in this Northwest Michigan town (for example, the annual National Cherry Festival last week), but why is this? Jim Danek, a 911 dispatcher, says, “Calls increase due to the amount of alcohol consumed during the National Cherry Festival and around the Fourth of July holiday. Both for medical and behavior issues. Traffic collisions increase due to the increased number of vehicles on the roadways and add some really cool air shows to distract the drivers and it’s an obvious recipe for disaster.”

Danek worked a total of 40 hours of overtime during the National Cherry Festival week. He says, “There is hardly a shortage of overtime shifts available during the Cherry Festival.

“Now Hiring” signs more common than not in Northwest Michigan

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Looking around Traverse City it’s hard not to notice the large quantity of stores looking for more employees in this northwest Michigan beach town. Diane Kimmel, who taught general business at Northwestern Michigan College, says “summer is Traverse City’s tourism time, so early summer and spring are big times for hiring. Traverse City Area Public Schools is one of the biggest employers and so is Munson (hospital). If you think about those two places, the public schools have to hire during the summer and the hospital is pretty much ongoing.”

Kimmel says the most successful way for Traverse City businesses to reach a larger audience of potential employees is by either newspaper ads or employment websites: “If you’re a local person you probably know about the email that comes out every week or every day called The Ticker.

Traverse City businesses prepared for the National Cherry Festival

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — The annual National Cherry Festival is July 1-8 this year and Traverse City was busy preparing in recent weeks for the thousands of attendees, including both tourists and citizens. Steve Heap, a professional at the Association of Festival Organizers, says that communication is key when a city prepares for a festival. He also says it gets easier with experience, but still takes the whole year to prepare for the annual festival. Kaylie Camp, 19, has worked two previous Cherry Festivals at Fustini’s, an oil and vinegar store located in downtown Traverse City.

Successful business with 11 locations originated from a car trunk in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Edwin G. Thirlby, founder of Thirlby Automotive in 1958, and a car trunk have evolved into 11 Thirlby Automotive locations in Northern Michigan that serve over 1,200 accounts and many additional daily walk-up customers. Edwin W. Thirlby (the present owner and Edwin. G. Thirlby’s son) explains, “In the late 1950s my father was working at a marina and a guy came along selling wax. He told him he was retiring.

Traverse City has some special things to offer entrepreneurs

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Traverse City in northwestern Michigan is home to many entrepreneurs. The town has a supportive food scene, excellent tourism, a strong Chamber of Commerce, and many citizens with amazing stories to tell. If you walk through Downtown Traverse City, you may come across Ben Phillips, owner and founder of Ben’s Boards, a company that rents paddle boards on Grand Traverse Bay. Scroll through social media and it’s likely you’ll see Sean Murray, founder of Green Light Podcast.