Charlevoix County, Wherefore Art Thou?
Why is the best of the best not the best it can be? Charlevoix the beautiful, the best part of up north, gloriously unlike downstate, is really just a bedroom community lacking in overall quality of life issues.
Charlevoix County seems to have something for everybody, unless one is looking for more than the most basic of community services.
We think Charlevoix County is so cool as to be “the top of the world.”
Truly nothing else can compare with the natural beauty, superb seasonality and really wonderful people; why else would so many people want to spend their available time here?
Now consider some areas that could be improved.
Consider educational/technical opportunities.
Full-time residents would benefit greatly from the availability of local choices.
Some combination of business, government and/or philanthropic interests providing learning opportunities will allow personal growth and income stability for many.
It would also help to ensure the continued growth of this extraordinary wonderland.
Opportunities such as automotive/marine repair, food and beverage, hospitality, sustainable farming and heirloom fruit re-invigoration, and environmental training in areas such as water quality and reforestation are just some of what is needed.
Also as important would be elder care and personal growth programs such as parenting and personal finance, as well as business startup programs.
Such choices in addition to general education programs would help Charlevoix County residents by providing local opportunities instead of forcing them to seek such choices elsewhere.
County educational opportunities should be an attainable goal with the cooperation of federal, state and county agencies working with vocational and technical academies, colleges and universities.
Priorities should be given to the most pertinent courses of study.
How about the arts?
They are of great import and we would benefit from the addition of visits from some of the world class talent that make stops in the North Country.
Exposure to the arts enhances consciousness and encourages dreams of personal growth.
How about lecture series that include cultural and historical topics such as Algonquin and French Acadian heritage presentations?
Classical, jazz, Cajun, bluegrass and folk concerts?
Asian and European artists?
Imagine a venue that will allow for such events (looking at you Boyne City).
Now let’s look at retail services. Why are there no major retail choices in Charlevoix County?
The only full service grocery outlet is Family Fare.
Competition is the greatest method to ensure quality products, prices and service, so where is Meijer or Walmart?
How about premium retailers such as Whole Foods?
Has anyone asked them to open facilities here?
If so, what was the response?
If, not, why not?
Another area ripe for change is the county transit system.
As we have extremely limited retail choices, scheduled service to Petoskey and/or Traverse City for shopping would be helpful to many county residents.
And providing service to local concerts, festivals and public spaces such as parks and beaches would be a boon for county residents and visitors alike.
Transit service that includes such opportunities is sorely needed.
While tourism is a valued industry that provides many residents with income and plenty of fun, as well as tax dollars paid by tourists and part time residents, it is not enough.
We must commit to invest the time and effort needed to realize an even better county.
Volunteers and local organizations are necessary for success, and I believe that Charlevoix County residents are up to the challenge.
Financing shouldn’t be too difficult; cutting wasteful spending would help to free up some county dollars, while fundraising including grants, philanthropy and special events would provide much of the necessary funding.
Leadership is critical to these and other areas that would benefit from additional scrutiny and should be considered with resident input encouraged.