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This National Park’s Growth Helps Michigan Businesses Thrive

When Amie Nolan looks out at Munising’s downtown business district, she’s quick to note what isn’t there — chain-owned stores and big box retailers.

From her Taco Primo restaurant, there’s a couple of pizza joints, a brewery, an ice cream shop, a flower store and more, all within a stone’s throw in this Upper Peninsula city that is known as the home of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Indian Head, Munising

“We’re built on local businesses,” said Nolan, who opened her taco shop in May. “A lot of my friends own their own businesses and we put our hearts and our passion into what we do. We do it for our year-round residents and all the interesting people we meet every day when they visit us from wherever they call home.

“There’s so much energy here in Munising.”

Chapel Rock, Munising

Kathy Reynolds, who heads the Alger County Chamber of Commerce, said within the last year about 12 new restaurants, stores and shops have opened, placing Munising’s vacancy rate at almost zero.

“That’s almost unheard of for a rural, small town like we are,” Reynolds said. “Everything is homegrown here and these people are invested in the community, but we couldn’t be as successful without the park and what it gives us.”

Learn more about Munising here and start planning your vacation by requesting a visitors guide.

The national park drives the tourism industry in Alger County and has become an international destination. More than 775,000 people visited the park in 2017, spending about $33 million, according to a government analysis. The visitors supported 400 jobs that likely wouldn’t exist otherwise, authorities say.

Visitor spending centers on lodging or campsites, food and beverages as well as souvenirs, experts reported.

Park Superintendent David Horne said in a statement that the park is honored to show off the resources it has, in addition to helping the local economy.

Munising

“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service,” Horne said. “We greatly appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The revenue has allowed locals to stay in the region instead of having to leave to find jobs elsewhere. Nolan, who is originally from Lansing, moved to Munising with her husband, a native of the town of roughly 2,500.

“People want to live and work here,” Reynolds said. “The park’s growth has given them the opportunity to do that and diversify our economy. Sure, there’s growing pains from time to time, but we’re happy to have that experience rather than one where we’re losing amenities.”

Reynolds said local business owners have been improving storefronts, adding to the town’s revitalization.

Cori-Ann Cearley, president of Munising’s Visitors Bureau, said tourism is a way of life in Munising.

“It’s our number one industry and we love it,” she said. “I think people enjoy feeling welcomed and being greeted with the kindness and manners that we have in Munising. I truly believe the park’s health is our health and we need each other to be our best.”

Miners Castle, Munising

Nolan, meanwhile, marvels at what her staff of 15 does while serving more than 200 guests a day during the height of the season.

“We work for each other and to treat our customers as best as we can every day,” she said. “It’s hard work, but we love it.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

11 Awesome Michigan Things to Put on Your Fall To-Do List

Cool nights, changing leaves and football tailgates are just some of the reasons that fall is a great time of year. In fact, more Americans say fall is their favorite season than any other.

Fall is especially nice in Michigan, where we experience a clear transition from the hot, sunny days of summer to the chilly snows of winter. In Michigan, we really do have four distinct seasons, each offering its own unique joys.

Some people like spring the best, or summer or even winter. But here are 11 reasons that fall is the best time of year in Michigan:

Fall is time for the harvest. We celebrate our state’s bounty of agricultural goodness on Thanksgiving Day. Until then, we head out to the farm and have a blast picking apples, navigating corn mazes and taking hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Heading to a U-Pick farm or farm market makes a great family outing.

Speaking of agricultural bounty, Michigan is a big producer of wine grapes and fall is the best time to see the grapes pressed into wine on a vineyard tour. Of course, it’s also the best season for visiting a tasting room and finding a new favorite wine. Combining a wine tasting with a fall color tour gives you the base ingredients for a romantic weekend getaway.

Let’s not forget about hard ciders, or craft beers. Just like you can go on a winery tour, you can go on a tour of Michigan microbreweries and find something new. You can reserve a beer bus, or incorporate Michigan’s great outdoors on a paddle or cycling tour of breweries and distilleries. Traverse City Beer Week from Nov. 9-16 is a great way to experience Michigan’s craft beer scene.

The water isn’t as warm and you might need a windbreaker, but the beach is still open in the fall. It’s much less crowded, yet no less beautiful. The blue lakes and golden sand mix with the changing colors of the leaves to create an incredible setting for romantic picnics and long walks by the water. Plus, the sun sets earlier in the evening, leaving more time to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

There’s no one right way to go on a fall color tour. Maybe you drive around in search of roadside fruit stands or go from one winery to the next. Maybe you seek out charming restaurants along the way or take breaks to shop in some of Michigan’s great downtowns. The important thing is to get out on the open road and soak in the stunning vistas of the Great Lakes State in fall. A couple recommended routes: M-22 in Leelanau County and the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

fall color tour by kayak on any of Michigan’s many inland lakes and rivers also is a fantastic option…

…and so is a fall color tour by bike. It’s not so hot and sweaty to get out in the fall on a trail like TART, Michigan’s premier trail network in Traverse City.

When crowds thin out after school starts in the fall, popular tourist spots like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore quiet down a bit. Yet, fall hiking in Michigan offers some of the more incredible sights of the year. Fall is also a great time for birding, when you can see migratory birds head south for the winter, and fishing, when salmon make their annual run upriver from the big lakes.

As you can see here on The Torch course at A-Ga-Ming Golf Resort near Traverse City, “Up North” golf reaches its peak in the fall. The courses stay green and the water remains a beautiful blue, while the trees come ablaze with colors of scarlet, orange and gold. It almost makes you want to hit your ball into the woods! After the round you can settle your bets — or double-down on your winnings — at the casino.

With more freshwater coastline than any other state, Michigan naturally has an abundance of lighthouses. Many of them, like the Grand Traverse lighthouse in Northport on Lake Michigan, are open for tours, and the photo ops in fall are better than ever.

From 5k runs like the Harvest Stompede on Old Mission Peninsula to bike races like the Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City, Michigan has plenty of opportunities in the fall to get outside and compete. Have you ever tackled an obstacle race? Is this fall the time to run your first marathon? Maybe you should celebrate Halloween this year with a Zombie Run.

You can experience any or all of the 11 reasons fall is Michigan’s best season by visiting Traverse City. Plan now and take advantage of Fab Fall Packages that include deals on lodging between Sept. 4 and Dec. 14 and discounts on dining, shopping, wineries, spas and more.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Grand Hotel’s Wine Weekend Highlights ‘Star’ Northern Michigan Winery

When Elizabeth Schweitzer, the master sommelier and creator of the Fall Wine Appreciation Weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, talks about the 2018 event featuring Shady Lane Cellars, the excitement in her voice is evident.

Schweitzer praises the Leelanau County winery, saying she has watched it since she arrived in Michigan in 2010 and touting its development under lead winemaker Kasey Wierzba. Schweitzer, this year, invited Wierzba and Shady Lane to be the showcase of her biennial weekend wine celebration

“She’s our highlight,” Schweitzer said of Wierzba. “Shady Lane and Kasey have really become a star among Michigan wineries and we’re so thrilled to have them as our host winery this year. People are really going to learn that they are making great wines and dispelling some myths about Rieslings.

“Kasey’s seminar will educate guests on reinventing Reislings and how they are not always sweet. We’ll pour her dry (styles) and provide a platform for people to know and love Shady Lane Cellars wines.”

The three-day affair offers guests:

  • A Friday welcome cocktail reception
  • Saturday wine seminars and tastings
  • Saturday evening Grand Cocktail reception
  • Saturday evening special dinner (adults only)
  • Saturday evening Cordial Reception

Shady Lanes wine will be exclusively featured at each of the receptions and dinners while Saturday’s tasting will be designed like a trade-show with all Michigan wines. Nearly 300 people are slated to attend the event, drawing mostly from the Midwest, but stretching to the Eastern seaboard in some cases, Schweitzer said.

“It’s always a big afternoon for Michigan wines to get some great exposure,” Schweitzer said.

Wierzba and Shady Lane are equally excited about the opportunity. Shady Lane Cellars’ Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc will be poured as featured wines during the special dinner Saturday evening.

“I’m over the moon to have the Grand Hotel’s dining room full of wine lovers drinking Shady Lane Cellars,” Wierzba said.

It’s not a one-way learning window, Wierzba said, as she intends to take advantage of working with Schweitzer, who is only one of eight female master sommeliers in the world.

“She works with an amazing cellar at the hotel and she really dedicates herself to experiencing world wine regions,” Wierzba said. “As a winemaker my focus is in my own cellar with grape varietals that are central to cool climate wine growing. It’s a drop in the bucket. There’s so much to experience and I always take advantage of learning from true Masters of world wines.”

Shady Lanes also intends to use the event as a lead on guests who may want to follow-up with a visit to the estate winery’s tasting room a short distance off Grand Traverse West Bay and M-22.

Schweitzer said the winery will leave a welcome letter and card offering a free wine and cheese tasting at the facility that features scenic vineyard views from a sweeping 32-foot covered furnished patio.

 

“That is so kind and so thoughtful, and no one has ever done that before,” she said.

Learn more about the story about Shady Lane Cellars, the people behind the wine and the land that makes it possible.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How 1 Week in November Could Change What You Think About Beer Forever

So, you don’t like beer, huh? Then maybe you just haven’t tried the right one.

There are a lot of beers in the supermarket cooler and many of them do taste a lot alike. But there are dozens upon dozens of other kinds of beer you’ve probably never had. 

Like, for example, “Cakewalk,” a vanilla cream ale from Michigan’s Right Brain Brewery, or the “Harvest Moon Oatmeal Stout” from Mackinaw Brewing or the “Strong Brew Coffee Porter” from Rare Bird Brewpub.

There are more than 150 styles of beer recognized by the Brewers Association — from the American-style lagers at the grocery store to India Pale Ales (IPAs), porters, stouts and beers with notes of fruit, pumpkin, coffee or chocolate.

“Our goal is to find something for everyone,” said Joe Short, founder and CEO of Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, near Traverse City. “Our favorite customer who comes in is the person who doesn’t like beer. That’s where we get excited about the possibility of conversion.”

Short’s, Right Brain and other local Traverse City breweries are taking part in Traverse City Beer Week (TCBW), Nov. 9-16. TCBW features a variety of tastings and other events that make a great introduction to craft beer.

Even though the craft brewing industry is rapidly growing, it still makes up just a tiny fraction of the commercial beer market. That small scale is partly what defines craft beer — it’s the opposite of big industrial brewers.

But it’s also defined by the craft of brewing. While the predominant style of beer sold in the United States is a light lager that’s more or less the same all across the country, craft beer is as unique as the brewery that makes it. The Local’s Light classic American lager by Short’s is different from the Northern Light lager at North Peak Brewing, which is different from the Glen Light lager at Cherry Public House, and so on.

During Traverse City Beer Week you can also try hard ciders like “Cinnamon Girl” by Left Foot Charley, “Greenman” by Tandem Ciders and “Madagascar Vanilla Bean Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider” by Taproot.

That’s not even to mention the vast array of other beer styles that craft brewers create. They experiment with yeast, hops and malted barley ingredients to produce a variety of different colors and flavors of beer: the “Cherry Springer” cherry ale at Lake Ann Brewing, the “Pembroke Stout” at Earthen Ales, and the “Trail Ryeder” IPA at Hop Lot Brewing, for example.

“No one beer captures all consumers,” Short said.

But which kind of craft beer might capture you? Short offers three suggestions to help you discover craft beer that you’ll enjoy:

Start with a sample tray. Try a variety of styles so you can taste the difference between a sour beer and a hoppy beer, for example, or between a Belgian beer and an American ale.

Ask your server questions. When you taste one kind of beer, find out why it tastes the way it does. When you find a particular style of beer that you like, your server will be able to identify what you like in that beer, so you can try other kinds with similar characteristics.

Narrow down what you like best. If you discover that you like light lagers, then explore more lagers because you might also like an amber lager or a dark lager. Or, if you decide that you like the smell, flavor and bitterness of hops, then keep exploring IPAs and other beers within that window.

The key is to explore craft beer, because there’s so much more out there than the familiar beer that you might not even like. Traverse City Beer Week is a great time to do just that, with 19 breweries and tap rooms participating!

Events include the 5th annual TC Ale Trail IPA Challenge, a Flapjack and Flannel Festival, The Great Beerd Run and many activities hosted by individual breweries. For example, you can discover the creative magic behind Right Brain’s award-winning beer on a free brewery tour 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, and sample special mini-flights of craft beer starting at $6.

Check out the full schedule of TCBW events here.

If you spend a couple days enjoying the festivities, you can take advantage of Fab Fall packages being offered by many Traverse City-area hotels, resorts and B&Bs now through Dec. 14. The packages include lodging deals as well as discounts on dining, shopping, breweries, wineries, spas and more.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Fall Color Tour: 12 Must-Try Restaurants in Mid Michigan

The peak fall color season is almost here, and there’s no better time to experience Michigan than getting out and about now — except for when you combine noshing on some great food while taking in the explosion of red, yellow and orange.

And you can do exactly that in and around Mt. Pleasant, which is home to both the unique natural resources for sight-seeing and the locally owned and sourced restaurants that will be a bounty for your belly.

The Mt. Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently blogged about the best spots to take in colorful scenes by foot, by water and by wheels. The bureau pinpoints Oct. 17-21 for the bursting fall colors and the center is running its annual social media contest #FeelsLikeFall on Instagram. Enter by posting fun fall photos using the hashtag and tagging @mtpleasantcvb.

Here are 12 suggestions on where to grab a bite to eat whether you live in Mid-Michigan, are passing through or making Mt. Pleasant your destination. The ideas are broken out by breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can plan your dining stops based on your itinerary.

Breakfast

Roz’s Diner

In a strange off-the-beaten path, but not far away setting in Rosebush, a short drive from U.S. 127, Roz’s Diner is a one-of-a-kind find. The farm fresh ingredients are superb, the portions are generous and the environment inside a converted bank is unique. Roz’s is a microwave-free zone, meaning everything is timely prepared just before serving. The stuffed breakfast wrap, with eggs and a host of vegetables, is perfect with the side of salsa. Weekends are busy and the seating is relatively small, so be prepared for a short wait.

Ponder Coffee 

Ponder’s exposed brick walls and rustic wood give the downtown Mt. Pleasant coffee, breakfast and lunch shop a natural, earthy vibe. But we came here to talk about food, and Ponder excels with waffles that are available all day and are out of this world. There are multiple daily offerings and the menu expands on Sunday mornings. Since this is fall, you’re missing out if you don’t try the Caramel Apple waffle that is topped with Granny Smith apple slices, a baseball-sized scoop of house-made whipped cream and a side of syrup.

Stan’s

The quintessential downtown diner that earns its reputation as a destination for locals as well as college students and their visiting parents. The menu makes it clear Stan’s is a no-frills joint that prides itself on homecooking and solid service. Traditional egg and meat combos supplement omelets and the restaurant’s famous crispy hashbrowns.

The Diner

Another homestyle restaurant, The Diner, which feels old-school with its promise of good food, good friends and good times, delivers quality dishes at affordable prices while still routinely earning 5-star reviews from guests at TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp. There’s no wrong order on the menu, but the Stacker Skillet is original with its paring of a piece of Texas Toast, country friend steak, sausage gravy and two scrambled eggs. Might be a good idea to hit the color tour by walk after that feast.

Lunch

Adelaide’s Bistro 

“Hidden” inside the Ginko Tree Inn bed and breakfast on the edge of downtown, this comfort food favorite is a well-known in Mt. Pleasant. Chef Pete Lieber crafted a delectable menu that features innovative soups, salads and sandwiches. On a recent cold day, a cup of Chicken Pot Pie soup was followed by a toasted vegetarian panini. The sun came out just afterward, and it probably wasn’t a coincidence.

Max & Emily’s 

If you’re looking for a sandwich, Max & Emily’s will make your head spin with more than 60 concoctions that can make it hard to choose which one to settle on, whether it’s your first or 100th visit to the downtown shop. All the meats, or none of the meats, the authentic baked breads and hand-cut ingredients will hit the spot for a mid-day lunch break.

Pisanello’s

In the 49th year of making pizza fans happy, Pisanellos produces a perfect thin-crust pie that outshines anything a chain can offer. The full spread of a lunch buffet wows crowds on weekdays, but a weekend visit to the low-key downtown café also gives diners choices for subs, salads and what could be award-winning buffalo wings. The Detroit Free Press included Pisanellos among its top 27 pizza places in Michigan.

Dog Central

The legend of Dog Central is so vast that it attracted the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food show to try conquering the DC Challenge — eating 3 foot-long chili dogs, a mountain of fries (more than 1 pound), onion rings, and a 20-oz. Drink — in under 25 minutes. If you’re not up for that, and how many really are, the counter service eatery has a long and creative menu of dogs. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to treat yourself to something new. There are also 50+ varieties of cold beer to help you wash those dogs down.

Dinner

Mountain Town Station and Camille’s on the River

The adjacent restaurants along the Chippewa River can be a night out for an upscale, intimate entrée-driven dining experience at Camille’s or a kick back in a come as you are craft brewery with a better than just bar food menu. Either way, guests of the eateries win. Camille’s is the spot to go for a glass of wine or a specialty cocktail to pair with seafood or steak. Mountain Town features special themes that include create your own pasta, taco and tequila, sushi and pint nights during the week. Chef specials take over on the weekend evenings.

Midori Sushi and Martini Lounge

The rustic-chic atmosphere sets the stage for a night of fresh sushi with environmentally friendly fish that is flown in daily from the West Coast. Whether you’re seeking a bit of heat or something light, Midori nails it with shared plates and specialty rolls for yourself or to pass around the table. The fire up! roll brings the spice with shrimp, tuna, serrano and a tasty eel sauce while the rainbow rolls cools it off with crab, cucumber and a selection of fresh fish. The creative martinis will top the night out downtown.

The Brass Café 

Long considered the gold-standard of fine dining in Mt. Pleasant, the Brass Café shows no signs of losing the title with perfectly prepared steak, seafood and pastas. Using locally sourced in-season meats and produce, the ever-changing menu is reliably inventive. The loaded Big Brassy stuffed burger will redefine the Angus beef you toss on the grill at home.

Hunter’s Ale House

Craft beer may be a primary draw for this bar and restaurant at the edge of CMU’s campus and an abundance of student housing, but it’s the variety on the menu that will satisfy the appetites of all who hop in to the popular hot spot. There’s tavern fare, pizzas and entrees in addition to 10+ sandwiches and build your own burgers. The hop-growing patio offers outdoor dining option on a crisp fall night.

Here’s how to learn more about dining options in Mt. Pleasant, and while you’re here, stay at these overnight accommodations.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

Northern Michigan Winery Earns High Ratings from Top International Wine Critic

One of the world’s foremost wine experts and two of his trusted taste-testers recently decided to decamp from reviewing wines from the U.S. coastlines, focusing instead on what is being made and consumed in America’s heartland.

James Suckling, who spent 29 years as a columnist and senior editor at Wine Spectator magazine, discovered what people in Michigan have known for years, writing that “outstanding wines are now available from just about every state and for every taste. And they deserve your attention.”

Two of the wines that Suckling praised were made at Shady Lane Cellars, a pastoral 52-acre vineyard and winery positioned on the Leelanau Peninsula between Lake Michigan’s West Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Leelanau’s south end.

Suckling awarded Shady Lane’s Blaufränkisch a 91-point score and the winery’s Dry Riesling an 89 on his 100-point scale, which he has used for more than 25 years. Suckling, who published his reviews on his subscription-based website, tells readers that a wine rated 90 points or more is outstanding. He also notes that wines that achieve high scores and are priced between $15 and $40, as Shady Lane Cellars’ are, offer great value.

“Positive feedback and reviews of our wines are always important to our business, but when we can get critical feedback from industry leaders like James Suckling, this levels the playing field,” said Rick DeBlasio, the general manager of Shady Lane Cellars. “Our scores are based on the same system they use to score wines from all over the world, France, Italy, California, so it’s a big vote of confidence both from a wine making standpoint, but also a market standpoint.”

On Shady Lane’s Blaufränkisch, Suckling wrote:

  • “This is really delicious with cracked black pepper and hints of almonds with blue fruit. Medium body, light tannins and a fresh finish.”

And on the Dry Riesling, he opined:

  • “This is a very harmonious and round dry riesling with some peaches and pears, plus a hint of smoke.”

DeBlasio said the reviews help Shady Lane reach wine consumers who may be new to Shady Lane and reinforce the perspective of those who have already experienced and enjoyed the winery’s catalog.

“Our guests want to know they are purchasing something of value and quality, and these types of tools allow us to communicate that, and being from a respected 3rd party, they lend credibility and legitimacy to our craft,” DeBlasio said.

The tasting review sampled 800 wines, showing “the diversity of these American wines reflects the vast climatic and geological range across America. It is a wine continent just like Australia or Europe.” Suckling, in fact, calls out to the grape-growing and wine-producing region of Northern Michigan in his text, saying:

“In France, the taste of the place is called terroir, and the best wines (come) from places as diverse as the High Plains around Lubbock, Texas, and the Old Mission Peninsula, which extends into Lake Michigan near Traverse City, Michigan, and have that.”

Shady Lane Cellars grows its Blaufränkisch grapes on a 3-acre plot, producing a dark red wine with a big personality. Layers of blueberry, blackberry and mulberry fruit along with a hint of black pepper and cedar spice finish this wine with aged, lush tannins and big mouthfeel.

The Dry Riesling grapes, meanwhile, are grown at the highest elevation of Shady Lane’s estate, creating a fantastic, balanced fruit that is remarkably dependable and consistent. Kasey Wierzba, Shady Lane’s lead winemaker, intentionally selected a yeast to produce intense flavors of apricot, melon, lime zest and honeysuckle.

Wierzba says Shady Lane takes advantage of the region’s cool climate to create varieties that achieve a world-class balance of acidity, aroma and flavors.

Shady Lane Cellars was one of Leelanau County’s first wineries and sits on rolling hills while featuring breathtaking panoramic views. Positioned a short distance from Grand Traverse West Bay and M-22, Shady Lane’s grounds are a destination with a comfortable state-of-the-art tasting room.

The winery maintains a regular tasting room schedule in the off-season, opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The winery is also open by appointment by calling 231-947-8865.

Discover, learn and shop Shady Lane Cellars today.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How Students from Small Colleges Land Big Corporate Jobs

As the vice president of human resources for Ford Motor Credit Company, Gale Halsey has the capacity to launch a search for employees and interns anywhere.

Halsey, however, makes a point of staying close to home after experiencing the success she’s had with the Concierge Career Connection program created by the Michigan Colleges Alliance (MCA), a 14-member group of the top private colleges and universities in the state.

The program pulls together students from MCA schools and places them in front of some of the best corporate recruiters in the nation. The alliance launched the career connection in 2010, and it has since expanded to more than 30 companies and a wide array of professional opportunities.

“It’s truly one-stop shopping,” said Halsey. “We’re getting qualified candidates, and there’s power in having trust in the students we’re going to interview. MCA has built a relationship, and we know we will be talking to the best of the best.”

While it may seem that Ford and other large employers would stick to bigger universities for dedicated recruiting events, Michigan Colleges Alliance President Dr. Robert Bartlett points out that collectively the partnership of schools is the third-largest group of students in the state. This is another example of how MCA schools work together to provide education and career opportunities for students.

“The diversity of talent in our colleges and universities is second-to-none, and companies covet the students that we have because they are getting young professionals who are ready to achieve,” Bartlett said. “The concierge program is unique. There’s nothing like it in the country. Every campus is involved and connected, so if you’re a student attending one of our schools, you’ve got your school behind you and MCA helping to advance your career.

“You will get a great education, and you’ll be ahead of the game in terms of opportunity and connections to leading employers in Michigan and beyond.”

Beyond Ford, examples of corporate recruiters who have worked with the MCA as part of the career concierge program include:

  • Amway
  • Delta Dental
  • Enterprise
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • General Motors
  • Gordon Food Service
  • La-Z-Boy
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Meijer
  • Perrigo
  • Spectrum Health
  • Stryker
  • Willis Towers Watson
  • Whirlpool Corporation

The alliance is able to match students’ credentials to positions that are open and coordinate pre-arranged on-site interviews and career fairs. The MCA has a personalized recruiting process that often is hard to navigate at massive universities.

Mark Alafita, Ford’s human resources business opportunities manager, said his team performs an annual evaluation of college campuses from which the company draws interns and employees. The team looks at demographics, business school rankings and other data that predicts where they’re likely to find successful candidates.

“With MCA, I can get a wide range of backgrounds in terms of people and what they have studied,” he said. “I don’t need everybody with the same teaching and mindset. We want different ideas to help us generate our success.

“MCA really hit a sweet spot for us.”

Alafita said Ford Credit strives to find candidates who see Michigan as a career destination.

“We want people who want to be where our core business is,” he said.

Halsey, meanwhile, said executives at Ford Motor Credit Company have taken notice of MCA.

“They’ve made me look good,” she said. “We’ve had great success with these candidates. They’ve been prepared for positions through their schools and the alliance.”

The smaller, private school environments allow students to engage with their instructors and emerge as thought-leaders, Bartlett said. Students have greater access to faculty members and mentoring.

“Independent colleges and universities are a place where students can truly flourish on their own terms,” Bartlett said. “They’re not just a body in a large lecture hall. They are part of student-centered learning environments. They grow as individuals in the classroom and beyond. That’s meaningful when you’re ready to take the next step in your professional life.”

Learn more about Michigan’s top 14 independent colleges by visiting the Michigan Colleges Alliance website.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

From Hot Sauce to Craft Beer: MSU Agri-Food Leadership Makes Huge Economic Impact

It wasn’t long ago that Scotty and Suzi Owens were typical gardeners who enjoyed sharing some of their harvest with friends. The hot sauce they made with homegrown peppers got rave reviews, and people said they should go into business selling it.

When Scotty got laid off from his work in tool and die during Michigan’s economic downturn, he and his wife did just that.

Fast forward to today and bottles of Scotty O’Hotty hot sauce and salsa are in grocery stores around the country. The couple’s business is operating with seven employees out of a 17,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, and in 2019 they’re on track to go nationwide in Kroger stores and begin exporting their award-winning products to China.

So, how in the world did that happen?

The Michigan State University Product Center recognized Suzi and Scotty Owens as 2018 entrepreneurs of the year.

“We had the dreamiest stars in our eyes, but I was almost at a brick wall at what to do,” Scotty Owens said. “MSU really steered us in the right direction.” The Owens came across the Michigan State University Product Center in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. There they received guidance on the rules and regulations involved in making a food product, took classes on bottling, learned about labeling and in 2012 got licensed to work out of a commercial kitchen.

A year later Scotty O’Hotty was on the shelves in small grocery stores that the Owens connected with through MSU’s Making It In Michigan food show, and the business has been growing ever since. Earlier this year the MSU Product Center named Scotty and Suzi Owens their entrepreneurs of the year.

Scotty O’Hotty is just one of many success stories at the MSU Product Center, which helps start or expand businesses in the agriculture and food sector. Just last year, the Product Center helped launch 87 new Michigan businesses that invested $35 million into the economy and created 350 new jobs.

But the MSU Product Center is just one way that MSU has been helping to grow the state’s food and agriculture system over the past 160 years. As the country’s pioneer land-grant institution, the then-Michigan Agricultural College has been a leader in practical, science-based education from the start, and even though the name has changed agriculture remains an important  area of research, with a big impact on the Michigan economy.

“The idea of us being here to help support and build and grow the agriculture and natural resources industries of the state goes back to the very beginning,” said Douglas Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch and assistant vice president of research and graduate studies.

Back in the mid-1800s, MSU was established by federal law as an agricultural school — the first to teach scientific agriculture. It became the prototype for the nation’s land-grant institutions, which were created to promote both the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes. Though MSU now carries out that mission across a wide range of disciplines, the original focus was agriculture.

Before the start of the 20th century, MSU had birthed groundbreaking agricultural advances including the development of hybrid corn to increase yields and the discovery that a swath of Michigan is fertile ground for sugar beets. Pioneering work has continued on everything from the process used in the homogenization of milk to how Michigan farmers can grow hops for the state’s booming craft beer sector.

Nearly 5,000 students are studying in dozens of degree and certificate programs through Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

And today MSU is a global leader in agricultural education, using scientific research to address real-world problems and help agri-food businesses implement solutions.

MSU has played no small role in Michigan’s massive food and agriculture economy, which fuels more than 800,000 jobs and makes an annual impact of more than $100 billion, according to a 2018 study. Here are just a few glimpses of the breadth of MSU’s engagement in the industry:

Preparing tomorrow’s agricultural leaders

Today, MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources includes nearly 5,000 students studying in dozens of degree and certificate programs in forestry, animal science, crop and soil science, horticulture and many others.

“Through our educational programs we train the next generation of agri-food leaders both in the public sector and in the private sector,” said Bill Knudson, a professor in MSU’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. “We have a lot of two-year programs as well, geared primarily toward people who will be working on the farm both in the crop area and the livestock area.

Michigan State University student Loren G. King is studying how technology such as drones and autonomous vehicles can make farm operation more efficient.

“Not only do we train our workers, but we also train our regulators. We’d have a much less safe food supply (without MSU’s leadership).”

Among those thousands of students is Loren G. King, who comes from a family farm in southwest Michigan and is learning about agriculture technology. Looking at global population estimates during his lifetime, the 20-year-old knows that the food and agriculture system will have to produce more and, to remain sustainable, do so while using fewer inputs such as fertilizer.

So, he’s studying how farms could deploy autonomous vehicles and drones to become more efficient. He envisions a completely cloud-based farm where managers can use mobile devices to gauge moisture and nutrient levels to see how crops are doing.

“It’s about expanding the efficiency of the farmer right now,” King said. “You’ve got to feed more people while using less.”

Bringing innovation into everyday life

Embedded in the DNA of a land-grant institution like MSU is the drive to use cutting-edge scientific tools to address problems and forge new opportunities. Because of that, food and agriculture study at MSU is definitely “not a science for science’s sake operation,” Buhler said.

A benefit of MSU’s research is that Michigan has developed the country’s second most-diverse agricultural economy. In addition to staples such as corn, milk and eggs, the state’s agriculture sector is full of smaller, specialty crops from asparagus to wine grapes.

Some of Michigan’s fruit varieties, for example, have been developed by MSU on nearly 20,000 acres that are used for agriculture and natural resources research and education throughout the state.

Michigan State University professor Rufus Isaacs is a leading researcher on the invasive spotted wing drosophila insect.But that diversity also breeds new challenges. Fortunately, MSU also is at the forefront of combating new crop diseases and pests. For example, professor Rufus Isaacs this month made a list of the world’s most Highly Cited Researchers for his work on the spotted wing drosophila, an invasive insect that damages fruit crops. Isaacs is just one of many MSU food and agriculture experts on the list.

“The large companies that are there to support major corn, soybean and dairy are not available for a lot of these smaller, more specialized industries,” Buhler said. “If we’re not there to help them with their latest insect, there aren’t a lot of options. If we weren’t here I don’t know who would fill that gap in all these specialty areas.

“Not many years ago there were almost no hops grown in Michigan. Had MSU not been here to help people learn how to manage hops and control diseases I don’t think it would have happened.”

Aside from immediate threats, MSU also is researching long-term challenges from food waste to world hunger through efforts including the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation and the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy. Climate change poses another problem, and MSU’s Plant Resilience Institute is working to improve the ability of crops to handle weather extremes.

“Minor changes in weather could have a real impact on us,” Buhler said.

Helping communities grow

Not only does MSU do research to support Michigan’s food and agriculture system and educate the next generation of industry leaders, the university also takes what it learns and shares it with the broader public. That work takes many forms including the new “Food @ MSU. Our Table” program, which helps people make better-informed choices about food.

In an era where the population is both growing and becoming more urbanized, it’s easy for people to be even more disconnected from the sources of the food they eat. That’s why MSU also is active in urban agriculture around the state, including the new MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation.

Michigan State University’s first urban food research center is being established in northwest Detroit through the new MSU Detroit Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation.

MSU is establishing its first urban food research center on a 2.5-acre former school site in a northwest Detroit neighborhood. The findings on everything from soil remediation to fertilizer and pesticide use will inform urban growers around Michigan and beyond.

“When you’re growing food in an urban setting it’s very different than in an open space,” said Dave Ivan, MSU Extension director of community, food and environmental programming. “This new center really will provide an opportunity for us to plant a flag in an area, working with a lot of the existing leaders in the Detroit urban ag movement in terms of how we can help you address the challenges you’re facing.“

We have a lot of credibility in communities, so people trust the information that we provide. They know that we’re scientific in terms of guiding our recommendations or framing an issue.”

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

How These 3 Changes Will Impact Your U.P. Snowmobiling Plans

As an El Niño weather pattern pushes into the U.S. this winter, potentially bringing warmer than normal temperatures and lighter than normal snowfall, there’s little worry in Cori-Ann Cearly’s voice as she evaluates the upcoming Upper Peninsula snowmobile season.

“There’s never really a problem or a question if we’ll have enough snow,” Cearly, the president of the Munising Visitors Bureau, says with a laugh.

She’s gained that confidence based on an average snowfall of 230 inches in Alger County, making it nearly a guarantee that the Lake Superior-side town of Munising and its surrounding 330 miles of groomed trails will be as flush with snow as ever.

The “preseason” also indicates the trail system will be ready to go. As Cearly talked in mid-November, there were already more than 8 inches on the ground and volunteers were putting the finishing touches to be ready to send snowmobilers off for adventures to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and beyond.

Known as the Snowmobile Capital of the Midwest, Alger County is the place to be for sled riders looking for a complete trail system that allows travel between towns, through woods and to incredible ice caves and ice structures.

Cearly said offseason improvements have prepped the region for another outstanding year.

Here are three new developments that will make snowmobiling Munising better than ever:

30 more miles of trails groomed daily

Members of the Snowmobile & O.R.V. Association of Alger County (SORVA for short) have taken over an additional 30 miles of trail that they will groom every day beginning on Dec. 1, the official start of the snowmobiling season. The added miles are on either end of the 300 miles that have been regularly maintained. It will provide access Au Train to Shingleton and all trails and points between, Cearly said. A group that had maintained the trails handed the mileage over because it was too hard and too far from their home base. SORVA goes out every night to perfect the trail so there will be less rattling and rolling for your ride.

Widened trails improve safety

The trails that already allowed riders to glide across the snow like a highway in the woods will now include a median of sorts. SORVA brought in brush-hogging equipment over the warmer months to provide more room to ride — a key safety factor when sled operators encounter each other while traveling in opposite directions. Cearly estimates that the paths have 30 percent more room. While the width could allow three riders to fan out side-by-side, it is still strongly recommended to travel the trails single-file.

Low-lying areas have been in-filled

More off-season trail preparation has brought even better grading and filling to eliminate large depressions and holes. Don’t worry, there are still great hills and varying terrain, but riders won’t hit pothole-like conditions while zipping around the trail. Previously snowfalls would not completely fill and level the terrain since the snow packs down and forms around the hole, just like a pothole that will jar you while driving on pavement.

“All of this has been done to make it a better experience,” Cearly said. “You’re going to have just as much fun, probably more, because it’s going to be such a smooth ride.”

Learn more about all Munising has to offer here.

The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsor article and may have influenced or authored the content. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect those of this site or affiliated companies.

3 Adventurous Ways to Enjoy Fall on Mackinac Island

There’s a reason the British built Fort Holmes where they did. Two hundred years ago, it just wasn’t easy for American forces to get up there, some 320 feet above lake level on the highest point of Mackinac Island.

 

The peak summer tourism season has ended, but Mackinac Island is still open for adventure this fall. And it’s as beautiful as ever.

Two centuries later, reaching Fort Holmes remains a challenge.“It’s all uphill,” said Jimmy Fisher, a year-round islander who owns Mackinac Wheels and Mackinac Bike Barn.

The reward for making it up to the top is not only a look around the recently-restored fort, but a spectacular, panoramic view of the island and the surrounding waters. It’s especially beautiful in the fall, when the blue of the Mackinac Straits contrasts with the reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves on the trees below Fort Holmes and nearby Point Lookout.

“Seeing the changing colors adds a different perspective to the island,” Fisher said. “One of my favorite spots in the fall to go is Point Lookout. You get a good northern view of the trees.”

The summer tourism season has faded into fall, but Mackinac Island is still open for adventure. Here are some of the best ways to experience the splendor of Mackinac in September and October:

Hike the trails — More than 80 percent of the island is a state park, and there are 70-some miles of trails running through it — including over 30 miles of single-track trails only wide enough for single-file hiking or biking.

 

A state park makes up more than 80 percent of Mackinac Island, which has 70-some miles of trails running through it.

Tranquil Bluff Trail is one of the more challenging trails on the island, and it offers incredible clifftop views of the lake below. “It’s very rooty and rocky with lots of ups and downs and they’re pretty steep,” Fisher said. “Part of it’s not even bikeable, but you can walk it.”

Other scenic trails: Lime Kiln and Winnebago trails on the east side of the island near Arch Rock; Allouez, Coffee, Indian Pipe and Trillium trails on the west side near the village; British Landing Nature Trail on the north side. Find maps here.

Explore the sites — Everybody goes to the iconic Arch Rock. Not everybody sees the other unique geologic sites farther into the island’s interior. If you can make it up to Point Lookout, you not only get a great view of the trees to the north but also a look at Sugar Loaf, a giant rock that rises 80 feet out of the middle of Mackinac.

The contrast between the island’s largest limestone stack, the fall colors around it and the beautiful blue waters beyond makes for a striking vista. Adventurous types can even take a staircase down to Sugar Loaf to get up close, where you’ll feel dwarfed by the sheer size of the tower.

Other sites to explore: Sunset Rock in the Stonecliffe Area is a popular engagement spot with a great view of the Mackinac Bridge; Crack-in-the-Island near the airport is a literal crack in the island; Skull Cave near Fort Holmes once housed piles of bones.

Pedal around — Because cars are not allowed on Mackinac, there are tons of bikes. You can take your own to the island on the ferry or rent from one of several shops. Most everybody who bikes takes a ride around the island on M-185, the country’s only state highway without cars. It’s 8.2 miles around the loop, which takes about an hour or so without stops.

 

You can take your own bike to Mackinac on the ferry or rent from one of several shops on the island.

There also are many miles of paved or gravel roads running the interior of the island, as well as single-track dirt trails. A fat tire bike is recommended to handle the roots and rocks of the dirt paths.

Other ways to get around: take a horse-drawn carriage ride through town or a saddle ride through the island’s interior; go for a sunrise kayak paddle and see fall colors from the water; get behind the wheel of a golf cart at the historic Wawashkamo Golf Club or The Jewel at the Grand Hotel.

After a day of play outdoors, relax the night away at one of Mackinac’s great restaurants and taste some world-famous Mackinac Island fudge, or join the party during the island’s inaugural Macktoberfest or popular Halloween weekend. Check out the island’s calendar of fall events.