Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats


A SWOT Analysis is a method of charrette facilitation that seeks to identify information from stakeholders familiar with the subject matter. It is reliant upon open communication that identifies:

STRENGTHS: are a region’s relative competitive advantages and often are internal in nature

WEAKNESSES: are a region’s relative competitive disadvantages and are also often internal in nature

OPPORTUNITIES: are chances or occasions for regional improvement or progress often external in nature

THREATS: are chances or occasions for negative impacts on the region or regional decline and also often are external in nature

The analysis should drill down beyond the base of the subject for intricacies that are identified through knowledgeable stakeholders. The SWOT Analysis performed for the 2021 update to the CEDS called upon the expertise presented by the following Regional Task Force Members.

SWOT Analysis Methodology

The SWOT Analysis was held via zoom meeting platform as pandemic guidelines prohibited in-person interaction at the time of the process. Community Development staff organized ahead of the planned meetings in order to become familiar with the meeting platform options.

Two meetings were planned over two consecutive days. The first meeting was set to discuss the strengths, weaknesses and threats to our region, with the second meeting set to discuss the opportunities. Utilizing the breakout room feature, a single staff member joined 4-5 Task Force Members and facilitated discussion and took notes.


Similar to the summary background meeting, a list of topics was shared with Task Force Members through staff for discussion. A list of facilitation questions was developed beforehand by staff to stimulate conversation. The same questions were utilized by all staff to maintain commonality for each of the separate discussions. After the first meeting staff shared and combined notes, removing duplication. The notes from the first meeting were then shared with the Task Force Group Members prior to the second meeting. Upon completion of the second meeting staff again combined notes and shared results with Task Force Members.

SWOT Analysis Results

The SWOT Analysis provided an almost overwhelming amount of information. The topic headings below provide a limited summary of the overall discussion and points. A complete breakdown of all the results of the SWOT Analysis can be found in Appendix H.


Our region supports talent through collaborative efforts for education/training. Wages of the region are not as competitive with other areas of the State/Nation, leaving employees seeking increased wages and changing jobs locally, limiting ability for companies to retain employees. Broadband limitations in many areas lead to a less competitive advantage for remote workers. Diverse range of industrial sectors offers ample opportunity for varied employment.

Betsy Evans
Caitlyn Berard
Carla Gribbs
Dave White
David Emmel
Dyllan Walker
Eric Grandstaff
Evelyn Szpliet
Jessica Lovay
Jessie Mitchell
Kedra Balderach
Lisa Leedy
Marc Miller
Mark Lagerway
Mike Allison
Rod Summers
Sakura Tokano
Scott Hardy
Scott Menhart
Steve Largent
Steve Schnell
Warren Call
Chairperson Planning Commission
Regional Manager
Commissioner - District 6
Process Safety Engineer
Broadband Consultant
Apprenticeship & Business Resource Network Manager
Community Development & Grants
Business Development
Executive Director
Diretor of Grants
Director of Economic Development
Associate Director of Business Development
Senior Business Advisor
Director of Community Assets & Impact Investing
Chief Information Technology Officer
Boardman River Program Director
Charlevoix County Housing Ready Program Director
President & CEO
Benzie County
Cadillac Chamber of Commerce
DTE Energy
Emmet County
Northern Lakes Economic Alliance
Packaging Corporation of America
Northern Lakes Economic Alliance
Networks Northwest
Northern Lakes Economic Alliance
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Builders Exchange of Northwest Michigan
Grand Traverse Economic Development
Manistee Chamber of Commerce
Baker College of Cadillac and Alliance for Economic Success
Antrim Co. Economic Development Corp.
The Center-Travers City
Rotary Charities
Traverse City Light and Power
Grand Traverse Conservation District
Housing North
Traverse Connect


Most municipalities are supportive of new business, and the region is seeing growth in jobs that benefit from technology, research and development. There are prevalent industry sector conflicts particularly among tourism and manufacturing sectors. There are many resources available to assist business owners to grow.


Housing is in short supply and high demand with costs exceeding what 40-50% of the population can truly afford. Education efforts on issues are reaching community leaders and local government is starting to react by shifting policy. Traction is gaining for support from the State, but legislation directed at removing local control is concerning.


The region has quality school systems and the local high schools are collaborating with Community Colleges and Technical Schools to offer guidance for training and employment opportunities at an earlier age. Limited large companies in the region does hamper efforts to engage for greater employment position categories.


Lack of affordable childcare is widely present in region, and becomes a barrier to work, particularly for mothers. Low family income affects children socialemotional, cognitive and academic outcome, if no guardian/sitter is present. Companies are beginning to take notice and some offer policy shifts that present childcare options.


Local government is often a barrier to business, either through lengthy approval processes, untrained staff and elected officials. Lack of civility leads to polarization hindering collaboration. Many State & Federal programs cater to more “urban” areas. Programs such as RRC, Opportunity Zones, and formal staff/board training can improve governance.


Lack of interstate network, many water bodies that must be circumvented and degrading infrastructure impact mobility of goods and people. Maintaining harbors, expansion of rail for both freight and passenger travel and a desire for people to live towards urban centers can improve upon issues.


Limited broadband network, but collaborative efforts to improve service areas is beneficial. Aging roadways, water/sewer lines and limited stormwater capacity can prevent sound infill development. Many State and Federal programs are underway that can assist communities with performing upgrades to systems.


Land use policy has limited density of population, has exacerbated separation of uses and has hindered growth in many areas. Education efforts that inform staff and decision makers of more modern approaches for inclusion of housing density, form based code “design over use”, and expedited approval processes are available and are being utilized in some communities.


Coastal erosion, increased temperatures on cold water streams and flood events are impacting communities. Resiliency planning is occurring and shifting policy.