In 1997, after Brian Lawson graduated from Butler University, he moved to Traverse City to begin a career in broadcast television.  After covering golf and skiing at Crystal Mountain, the culture inspired him to begin working in Michigan’s tourism industry.

Now, as director of public relations at Crystal Mountain, Lawson enjoys working in a business that offers experiences and opportunities for families and friends to make connections and long-lasting memories.   

“It’s a very powerful and positive environment in which to work,” says Lawson. “There’s nothing quite like going to work where vacation is the product and that energy is what I like most about this job.”

Brian is among the more than 200,000 Michiganders that work in Michigan’s tourism industry, showing millions of visitors each year what Pure Michigan is truly all about.

In addition to offering beautiful vacation destinations, tourism in Michigan has a significant impact on the state’s economy, creating job opportunities as the number of visitors and the money they spend continues to grow.

According to a report by Tourism Economics, visitor spending in Michigan reached $22.8 billion in 2014 and generated $37.8 billion in total business sales for the state’s economy.  Visitors also spent 3.8 percent more in 2014 than they did the previous year, the report found.

Traveler spending, in fact, has increased by an average of 3.7 percent every year for the last four years, according to the report.

As a result of the 113.4 million visitors to Michigan in 2014, every sector of the state’s economy tied to tourism grew with a total of 214,333 jobs being directly sustained.  Including the direct, indirect and induced impacts of the tourism economy, employment supported by the state’s tourism industry accounts for 6.2 percent of all employment in Michigan.

“Jobs in Michigan’s tourism industry are as varied as they are ample,” said Lawson. “It’s a labor intensive industry.  Crystal Mountain, for instance, is like a municipality. We need people to clear the roads in the winter, staff and serve 300 people at a banquet, teach people how to ski and all jobs in between.”

The report determined that without a strong tourism industry in Michigan, the state’s unemployment rate for 2014 could have gone from 7.3 percent to as high as 13.3 percent.

Tourism employment growth outpaced the overall state employment growth by more than half a percent in 2014 and has continued to outperform the state economy for the last four straight years, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Playing a major factor in this success has been the nationally recognized tourism campaign Pure Michigan. A study by Longwoods International has determined that the $12.4 million spent in out-of-state advertising during 2014 generated 2.2 million trips to Michigan by people living in the Midwest region and Canada and another 1.9 million trips by people residing in the other U.S. regions.

“State funding for tourism promotion has had a huge impact on Michigan’s lodging and tourism industries,” said Steve Yencich, president and CEO of the Michigan Lodging and Tourism Association.   “Industry employment levels dropped to recessionary levels of just over 142,000 back in 2009.  In 2014, those levels grew to more than 214,000 industry-wide.  That’s real growth – that’s Pure Michigan!”

As the tourism industry in Michigan continues to grow, Michiganders and visitors alike see the impact of a vibrant and diverse industry based around the state’s natural beauty and endless opportunities to explore new landscapes.

“As more guests continue to visit Michigan, jobs will continue to grow,” said Lawson. “Provided you enjoy working with people and in the service industry, there’s a place for you in the tourism industry, whatever your skillset.”

Interested in working in Michigan’s tourism industry?  Visit and to search and apply for jobs.  

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On April 16, human resources professionals from across Michigan will descend on Lansing for the 6th Annual Michigan HR Day as an opportunity to exchange information, ideas and experiences. The one day summit will focus on HR best practices and attracting and retaining talent across the Great Lakes state.

Proclaimed HR Day by Gov. Rick Snyder, the event includes sessions spanning a wide array of HR topics, including a presentation by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on Pure Michigan Talent Connect, the state of Michigan’s official labor exchange site. As a tool to help employer’s find qualified talent and job seekers find career opportunities in Michigan, the presentation will provide an overview of programs, tools and resources available on the site.

Among the resources discussed will be’s employer and internship toolkits, as well as the sites 14 eLearning Soft Skills lifelong videos. Launched in March of 2014, the videos are a result of discussions with employers about the need for soft skills training for many job seekers entering the workforce.

“More than 1,300 HR Professionals will be in attendance, which makes it the largest HR Conference to ever take place in Michigan,” said Jeremy Stephens, vice president and chief human resource officer at Chelsea Community Hospital and founder and president of Michigan HR Day. “The purpose is to pull HR professionals together to share best practices on attracting and retaining talent in Michigan.”

Stephens noted past speakers have included Governor Snyder and various CEO’s from some of Michigan’s top companies. In addition, attendees of the summit will also have the opportunity to earn PHR, SPHR, GPHR credits for continuing education activities through the Human Resources Certification Institute.

Cynthia Richardson, statewide talent programs at the MEDC, recently stated:, “Employers across Michigan are struggling to find talent and many are not aware of all the resources available on Working with employers on their hard-to-fill job openings, in addition to technical skills, is vital for the success of workers in today’s workforce.”’s interactive eLearning Soft Skills videos encourage attributes that employer’s value in talent, including topics such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Focusing on humility, conflict resolution, diversity and inclusion, self-confidence, teamwork, ethical character, personal judgement, problem solving, time management, flexibility, initiative, having a positive attitude and work ethic. The videos give viewers feedback based on their interactive perceptions and reactions to the eLearning videos.

If you are attending Michigan HR Day, be sure to stop by the Pure Michigan Talent Connect booth to talk with staff and learn about’s numerous talent programs, tools and resources. We will be live tweeting from the event, feel free to follow us on Twitter at @MiTalentOrg. Be sure to also follow @MichiganHR and the summit hashtag #MIHRDay for updates before, during and after the summit. Last year Stephen’s noted that the summit trended nationally on Twitter. And be sure to check out MAT2, a program that provides students classroom experience and on-the-job training in mechatronics, technical product design, information technology or CNC while graduating without student debt. 

To learn more about’s eLearning soft skills videos visit:

Andrew Belanger is the Social Media Manager for MiTalent.Org. With a goal to attract, retain and develop talent in Michigan, Andrew supports statewide talent programs and strategic communications for Pure Michigan Talent Connect,, the state of Michigan’s official labor exchange system. Prior to joining the MEDC in 2013, Andrew worked for 8 years in the local workforce system, serving one year in higher education, career and employment services.

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After five years in Houston, the Shell Eco-marathon Americas is coming to Detroit, sparking conversation about the future of mobility.

The Shell Eco-marathon is a competitive challenge involving student teams from around the world to design, build and test ultra-energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, winners will be teams that go the farthest while using the least amount of energy.

In addition to being a hub of innovation and creativity, the family-oriented event is free and open to the public during its time in the Motor City.

From April 10-12, more than 120 teams representing more than 1,000 students from 5 countries – Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S. – along with some local teams, will meet at the Cobo Center in Detroit to compete for the Americas championship in energy efficiency. And for the first time, a specially-designed street circuit will be used to measure the performance of both car and driver to the fullest.

Aside from Michigan’s overall economic turnaround, Detroit was selected because of its rich automotive history in addition to consistently defining new ways vehicles and technologies are produced.

“The Shell Eco-marathon is aimed at young people who are interested in becoming future engineers and scientists, or have a particular interest in where energy comes from,” said Pamela Rosen, general manager for Shell Eco-marathon America. “With this in mind, we saw Detroit as a perfect location to host the event as it is the epicenter of where mobility began, and a region that will lead its future.”

In addition to being considered the automotive capital of the world, Michigan ranks first in the concentration of industrial engineers, research and development (R&D) professionals and skilled trade workers. Bringing the Shell Eco-marathon to a region with growing interest and opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields was a clear choice, according to Rosen.

“We’ve designed certain aspects of the competition to encompass Detroit’s unique urban environment, which will be a new test for the student teams,” Rosen said. “The circuit will include inclines and declines through the streets of Detroit and through some of its buildings, which is similar to real-world challenges faced in creating new energy and fuel efficiency.”

The competition is broken into two categories: Prototypes, futuristic cars for maximum efficiency, and Urban Concept, practical designs for the road. Much less about speed, teams design their vehicles around efficiency and push the limits on how far it can travel. The Shell Eco-marathon serves as a great opportunity for the state’s youth to be immersed in a technical competition, but also see career opportunities outside of what many think of a typical engineer.

“We hope that everyone who experiences the Shell Eco-marathon, both competitor and spectator, gets a look into what sustainable mobility might look like in 2050 and gain a better understanding of the technology they use every day,” Rosen said.

Need more reasons to check out Shell Eco-marathon? Here are 5 reasons to head downtown:

  1. New technology. In addition to the energy-efficient vehicles, the event will include a more than half-million square foot interactive platform in Cobo Center where attendees can gain a hands-on experience of the newest technologies in energy efficiency and vehicle production.
  2. Homage to the Motor City. The Shell Eco-marathon team has designed the event around Detroit’s historic history and landscape for a one of a kind experience. Don’t miss out on an awesome and tech-filled weekend that might just be in your backyard. Bonus: Local bands will be playing all weekend.
  3. Thrill of competition. See months of effort put into motion as teams from around the world represent their cultures and communities while creating the future of worldwide mobility.
  4. Daily prizes. Shell gas gift cards will be given away every hour in addition to the “Free Fuel for a Year” sweepstakes.
  5. It’s Free! The Shell Eco-Marathon is free for anyone interested in attending. Simply visit the online registration page to order tickets and make your way to Detroit..

For more information on the Shell Eco-Marathon or the growing STEM industry in Michigan, visit Shellecomarathon.US or

*Photo and video courtesy of Shell.


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Each year on April 7, beer enthusiasts across Michigan and the United States join in celebrating National Beer Day as an unofficial holiday honoring craft and domestic brews.

Bolstered by the Great Lakes and nurtured by the glacier-rich soil, Michigan is known as a brewer’s paradise. With countless varieties of styles and tastes, Michigan’s more than 150 breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs offer countless selections for anyone who loves cold and satisfying beer.

To celebrate National Beer Day, and the industry’s economic impact on Michigan, we’ve pulled together a list of nine important numbers to know regarding Michigan Beer.

5 – Michigan is currently ranked #5 for the most breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs per state in the nation. One of the many highlights of these establishments is the many brewery tours available year-round.

7 – July, the seventh month of the year, was designated as Michigan craft beer month in a joint resolution between the Michigan House and Senate. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Founder’s All Day IPA are just two of the many Michigan beers that are available all year but especially popular during the summer months.

19 – Years the Michigan Brewer’s Guild has been in conjunction. Since 1996, the guild has existed to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state.

81 – Years since the prohibition of alcohol ended on April 7, 1933. Nationwide, prohibition began in 1920 when the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, and was repealed in 1933 with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment.

133 – Michigan’s brewing industry creates more than $133 million in revenue for the state’s economy. As more breweries open in Michigan each year, this number continues to grow.

616 – The area code for Grand Rapids, which was named Beer City, USA in 2013 by USA Today. Grand Rapids has many notable breweries, but maybe none more recognized than Founder’s Brewing Company, which was ranked as the #3 brewery in the world in a 2013 poll conducted by

800 – More than 800 beers are available for sampling at the annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti. In addition to the beer, a variety of tasty food items are available from independent food vendors inside the festival accompanied by a diverse selection of live music from local bands.

7,137 – In 2014, there was a recorded 7,137 jobs created through Michigan’s craft beer industry through direct, indirect and induced employment. Through this, more than $232 million in wages were collected by these employees.

582,909 – Barrels of craft beer produced in Michigan in 2013. Michigan ranked #8 in the country, with California ranked as #1, producing 2,948,895 barrels of beer in the same year.

To learn more about Michigan’s brewing industry and other growing pillars of the state’s economy, visit

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Michigan’s Agriculture and Food Processing Industry Primed for Continued Growth

March 30, 2015 Agri-Business

On Mar. 19, small and large businesses from across Michigan came together at the 2015 Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) Agriculture Summit to connect and network in the hopes of starting partnerships between local suppliers and national food chains. Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) was a [...]

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Talent Talk: Q&A with Stephanie Comai

March 18, 2015 Business Growth

The Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) is addressing the gap between workers with the right skills and Michigan companies in need of employees for both today and tomorrow. TIA joins the efforts of the Workforce Development Agency and the Unemployment Insurance Agency to integrate new workers into the economy and help those workers that have [...]

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Michigan Celebrates Pi Day: 3.14 Tips for Getting a Job in the Great Lakes State

March 14, 2015 Economic Development

  Being a leader in producing blueberries, cherries and many other delicious fruits, Michigan is often associated with pies that come fresh out of the oven. But on Mach 14, or 3.14, the state joins in on celebrating a different kind of Pi. Each year, “Pi Day” is recognized to celebrate mathematics and the universal [...]

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An Inside Look at Being a Michigan Dairy Farmer

March 9, 2015 Agri-Business

As the second largest industry in Michigan, agriculture has long been a pillar of the state’s economy. With more than 51,000 registered farm operations, the agriculture industry offers unique opportunities for Michigan’s workforce, including the growing area of international trade. Carla Wardin is a sixth generation farmer on her family’s land in St Johns, Mich. [...]

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Governor’s Education and Economic Summit Focuses on Bringing Industries Together

March 5, 2015 Business Growth

This week, business and education leaders from across Michigan came together at the 2015 Governor’s Economic and Education Summit to discuss the state’s increasing economic diversity and initiatives aimed at molding the  future workforce. In his welcoming remarks, Gov. Rick Snyder shared his vision for talent and business attraction to work hand in hand, and [...]

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Pure Michigan Talent Connect: Hot Jobs in International Trade

February 26, 2015 Business Growth

If you’re looking for a job in Michigan, Pure Michigan Talent Connect – a collaborative effort of the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) – is your launch pad for new jobs, careers and talent. The site is an online marketplace connecting Michigan’s job seekers and employers. In the last few [...]

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