MyNorth Media & Networks Northwest Build a Public/Private Partnership Success Story

Northern Michigan’s Live/Work/Play Project illustrates the economic and creative benefits of collaboration between the public/private sectors as described by Michigan Governor’s Regional Prosperity Initiative.

MyNorth Media and Networks Northwest (formerly Northwest Michigan Council of Governments) announce the successful launch of Live/Work/Play on MyNorth.com, a project associated with the goals of Regional Prosperity Zone #2.

Networks Northwest received grant money from the Governor’s Regional Prosperity Initiative to create a website that promotes Northern Michigan as a region in which to live, work and play, all part of the broader goal of economic development in Northwest Lower Michigan.

They could have chosen to build an entirely new website. Instead, they partnered with MyNorth Media, a Northern Michigan media company, whose robust website, MyNorth.com, reflects their 35-year, daily commitment to celebrating and promoting living and playing in Northern Michigan. All that was needed was for the two organizations to work together on a new “Work Here” section. Within a few months, MyNorth.com’s audience of more than 100,000 visits per month, who come seeking information about living, working and playing in Northern Michigan, started finding exactly what they need: content and directories on everything from vacationing, getting outdoors, kids, jobs, local companies and healthcare.

“The partnership with MyNorth.com made so much sense,” says Janie McNabb, chief operating officer for Northwest Michigan Works, a program of Networks Northwest. “They have an entire staff dedicated to promoting this area. That’s a business we can’t and shouldn’t get into. Yet it’s a major need that we have to support our local businesses in their quest for skilled talent.”

Deborah Wyatt Fellows, founder and president of MyNorth Media, agrees. “The collaboration between Networks Northwest and MyNorth Media is such an exciting model for how our public and private entities can work together in Michigan,” says Fellows. “We have been in a dialogue with people about living, working and playing in Northern Michigan for a long time. That is our sole mission; the reason we exist and we wake up every day to do it even better. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see that work woven into goals for Networks Northwest, our region and our state.”

As the lead organization in Northwest Prosperity Region #2 in Governor Snyder’s Regional Prosperity Initiative, Networks Northwest is charged with creating a framework that pulls together a 10-county region of Northern Michigan from public, nonprofit and private sectors. In answering the Live/Work/Play project’s goals, MyNorth Media enhanced certain content sections, such as creating sections for each of the 10-counties that include articles, links to directories and even a two-minute video highlighting the advantages of living, working and playing in each county. In addition, there are companies highlighted in content from the manufacturing, IT and healthcare sectors.

MyNorth Media’s web design and development team worked with local organizations such as Northwest Michigan Works! to achieve their goal of getting their job listings into a wider, consumer audience. The result is a MyNorth.com Jobs Directory that now connects employment opportunities in Northwest Lower Michigan to the MyNorth.com audience in all 50 states and 210 foreign countries. Similarly, a unique approach was made to a Company Directory, allowing possible recruits, as well as their spouses, to find a wealth of company connections in their fields.

Governor Snyder has made grants available to all ten Prosperity Regions, with a caveat: The grant recipient must show that they are collaborating with both business and nonprofit representatives, as well as representatives from local and regional economic development organizations, workforce boards, adult education providers and the higher education community. The successful collaboration on Live/Work/Play is an outstanding example of the Governor’s goals with this initiative.

“We support the private sector as much as possible. We didn’t want to compete with a product that already existed, so we teamed up with a 34-year-old, tax-paying, profitable and growing Northern Michigan company that employs primarily full-time professionals,” says Elaine Wood, chief executive officer, Networks Northwest and Northwest Michigan Works! Inc. “And the result in this case is, six months later, all our goals have been met without writing articles that already exist, shooting photography that already exists, or developing an expensive marketing plan to reach the 1.6 million people that MyNorth Media already communicates with. This partnership saved tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars. And beyond all that, the site is both gorgeous and effective.”

Bill Rustem, former director of strategy for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, spoke at a Regional Economic Summit in Traverse City. Rustem said Networks Northwest is a model for the type of collaboration Michigan regions need, saying, “To be successful, you’ve got to look beyond the boundaries. You’ve got to look beyond the artificial lines that have been set. And look to ways in which we can connect people rather than divide them, in a region. And that’s what’s critical and going to be critical in the future.”

Rustem also said, “I use you [Networks Northwest] as a model when I talk in other places around the state. And we’ve got to find ways to encourage more of that kind of collaboration that goes on here.”

Elaine Wood and Deborah Wyatt Fellows will be available at the Governor’s Economic Summit in Detroit on March 2 & 3, 2015 to share their process for success through collaboration.

About Networks Northwest

Networks Northwest is a ten-county public agency providing workforce development, economic development, and community development services in Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford Counties. Networks Northwest’s goal is to be a planning resource, enabling and enhancing the region’s ability to preserve and create high quality of life conditions.

About MyNorth Media
MyNorth Media, founded as Prism Publications Inc. more than 30 years ago by Deborah Wyatt Fellows, reaches a total audience of 1.6 million and publishes Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, Northern Home & Cottage, MyNorth Vacation Guide and MyNorth Wedding, in addition to several other print and online publications. Traverse Magazine and its staff have won more than a dozen national and international awards for excellence.

MyNorth Media also produces MyNorth.com, the online home of Traverse Magazine, ShopMyNorth.com and MyNorthTickets.com, Northern Michigan’s ticket source. MyNorth Media’s reaches an audience of 1.6 million people who love Northern Michigan. MyNorth Media was named to 50 Michigan Companies to Watch in 2014.

MyNorth Media has also published Reflections of a Life Up North, a coffee-table book of stunning photography from Traverse Magazine paired with a collection of Fellows’s columns, The Cottage Cookbook, 101 Ways to Love Traverse City and Beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes. MyNorth Media is also a proud sponsor of many events including the Traverse City Film Festival, Shanty Creek’s Beer & Boards Festival, Traverse City Wine & Art Festival, Traverse City Friday Night Live, Paella in the Park and Elk Rapids Harbor Days. The privately held company is headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan. For more information visit MyNorth.com or call (231) 941-8174.

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