Annual Thanksgiving Event Series Receives International Award

Back to Michigan event takes home two awards for Excellence in Economic Development.

Back To Michigan, a collaborative, state-wide event was awarded a Silver and Bronze ranking by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) at the Council’s 2021 annual conference. In 2020 the event was spearheaded by Hello West Michigan and The Right Place of Grand Rapids and included TCNewTech’s Homecoming event along with a dozen other host organizations across Michigan.

The Back To Michigan member organizations came together during Covid to host a series of virtual career fairs for job seekers interested in relocating to Michigan. The virtual event concept was based on the annual career fairs which happen across the state similar to TCNewTech’s Annual Homecoming Event (traditionally held the night before Thanksgiving).

“In 2017, TCNewTech hosted its first Thanksgiving weekend event for boomerangs returning to Traverse City for the holidays to introduce them to local employers and explore what relocation to Northern Michigan could look like,” said Jennifer Szunko, Executive Director of TCNewTech. “Other regions around the state have similar event models and many have become Thanksgiving traditions and result in hires.” 

The Back To Michigan Host Organization Committee won Silver in the Regionalism and Cross-Border Collaboration category. The Back To Michigan event series won Bronze in the Innovation Programs and Initiatives category.

“Our committee came together during Covid and consisted of a dozen host organizations, most of whom had never worked together or even met each other. Together, in collaboration with the State of Michigan, we organized an event series that resulted in over 2,000 registrants and multiple hires. The Back To Michigan Host Organization Committee is helping to alleviate one of the most critical challenges regions are facing right now: attracting talent.”

Rachel Gray, Executive Director of Hello West Michigan

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. 25 award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from 4 countries.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and Invest Buffalo Niagara, President, and CEO Tom Kucharski. “This year, more than ever has presented opportunities to innovate, impact, and progress the cities, neighborhoods, and communities around us.”

For 2021, several regions are hosting both in-person and virtual events for Back To Michigan. Traverse City’s in-person event will be co-hosted by Traverse Connect and TCNewTech on November 24 at The Park Place Hotel and has been rebranded as North Coast Homecoming.