The Future of Economic Growth


The Future of Economic Growth


Last month I attended a TEDx talk at the Opera House sponsored by the Bank of Northern Michigan.  It featured Tim Rowe, the founder and CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center in Massachusetts.  Tim spoke about the many start-up companies that are housed in his center, and the synergies and growth that occurs by having start-ups, venture capitalists, financial companies, accountants and like-minded businesses under one roof.  He started with one small rental space and as individuals with new ideas came to him looking for small offices, he expanded the space he had to offer for lease.  Currently he has over 300,000 SF in a few high-rise office building in Cambridge.


Tim spoke about a study on new jobs growth that showed two million jobs are created each year by existing companies.  The study showed that large companies were losing one million jobs per year and new companies under 5 years old were adding 3 million jobs per year.  One of the best ways our economy can continue to grow and people can prosper is by adding jobs to the workforce.  He suggested that communities need to put more focus on new and small businesses, than focusing on the growth of older existing businesses.


For a small city like Traverse City, this could be very good news.  This decade has been marked by the entrepreneurial spirit of new business owners that want to work for themselves.  The generation that has graduated from college in the past 10 years is full of ideas on ways to use new technology and the desire to create their own destiny has led many of them to start a new business.  It is the attitude of this group that brings new ideas and new opportunities to the market.  Many of these ideas are internet based and can be done from anywhere.  They don’t need the resources, such as a large workforce, of a large city.  What better place to move to and start a new business than Northern Michigan?  We have a few small incubator type office space in Traverse City, but  there is definitely room for growth.  Tim suggested that creating the type of space young innovators would want to work out of, is the key to attracting the brilliantly minded ones that will have the most success in the future.

Last week, as I was waiting for a sandwich at Little Fleet (Traverse City’s new food truck dining spot),  I was approached by a young man from Chicago.  He asked me if I lived here and when I told him I did, he said “You are so lucky, I love this town.  I want to make plans to move up here.”  What surprised me about this statement was that he must have been 18-19 years old, and this is the age group usually moving away from Traverse City (at least for a few years before they realize how good we have it here).


We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area.  Traverse City is full of friendly people who are helpful, open to new ideas and offers many opportunities to people moving to the area.  We are lucky we have a strong economic development foundation, chamber of commerce, downtown association, small business lenders, SCORE, and countless other groups that dedicate themselves to helping attract new business and helping those businesses grow.  By fostering the growth of new companies, we can compete with much larger metropolitan areas to attract business, jobs growth, and continue to create a prosperous economy where we live.


Dan Stiebel, CCIM


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Dan Stiebel

Dan Stiebel

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