Leelanau News and Events

What’s Next For The County In 2022? Leelanau Business Leaders Predict

By Emily Tyra | Jan. 3, 2022

What does the future hold for businesses, tourism, and county’s unique character? We asked local leaders what they’re excited about, what their expectation is for the new year, and what we could — and should — pay closer attention to in 2022.

Jody Hayden, Co-owner, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate, Empire
The most exciting news you anticipate in 2022?
 For Leelanau County, I’m thrilled to see the new, creative energy pouring into Northport, Lake Leelanau, and Cedar. And I’m excited to see the influx of smart, creative women opening shops in villages like Leland and Suttons Bay, and that most seem to be thriving. The wineries continue to work hard with quality and innovation to put Northern Michigan on the wine map. And the [Grand Traverse] Band, Leelanau Conservancy and many other groups are doing an excellent job stewarding our incredibly beautiful home. At GDC, we look forward to opening our new gelato shop and bakery along with the community garden in 2022. It's been a big project for us and we can’t wait to share it.
What word(s) best fit your professional expectation for the year ahead? A creative, welcoming boom!
What does Leelanau County need most? Great leadership and partnership across the county to solve pressing issues like supporting our working families and responsible stewardship of our natural resources. 

Dan Oginsky, Co-owner, Main Street Gallery in Leland; President, North Manitou Light Keepers 
The most exciting news you anticipate at “The Crib” in 2022? Launching into Phase 2 of the restoration project for the North Manitou Shoal Light, or the “Crib.” In our first five years we cleaned up, painted, and replaced all the windows at the lighthouse. Last year much of our focus was on starting tours (which will be running again this summer). Having met those milestones, we are moving on to restoring the interior. Once we fully restore the interior, the Crib will be a great place for overnight and weekend stays.
What word best fits your professional expectation? Words that come to mind for the year ahead include innovate, resolve, patience, and grace. Honor is my word, however, because I am feeling like respect for one’s own humanity and dignity — as well as that of others — is a critical ingredient in guiding how we conduct ourselves and treat each other as we navigate all this together.
What does Leelanau need most? Affordable seasonal housing for people to stay in while they support local businesses and work needs.

Kimberly Bork, Managing Broker/Owner at Venture Properties, Leland
The most exciting news you anticipate in 2022 for real estate? 
There is no shortage of buyers, people want to live here. Our fresh water, air and Midwest attitude is capturing the attention of buyers from all over the country. From California, Texas, Arizona, to the East Coast, buyers are investing and moving to Northern Michigan. I expect a modest increase in interest rates and inventory in 2022, however, it will not be as limited as 2021 and it will continue to be a sellers’ market.
Which word best fits your professional expectation? More! I expect more buyers, more inventory and more of what we experienced in 2021 — 2022 will bring a strong real estate market, however property prices will not rise at the pace of 2021. We saw staggering price increases of 20 to 30 percent and higher in some areas of Leelanau County. I predict pricing will stabilize in 2022, if inflation persists at 6 to 10 percent — for almost everything — we should only see a 5 to 6 percent increase in pricing. I see buyers renting and waiting for the market to settle. A combination of buyers simply waiting and the Feds attempt to control inflation should help to bring things back into balance by 2023. The Leelanau market has proven to be very resilient to what is happening in the U.S.
What does Leelanau need most? Affordable housing — the shortage of affordable homes has never been greater. It’s always been an issue but now more than ever, it’s a huge problem. The bidding wars for homes that need so much work/investment after the sale has been flat out ridiculous, and buyers are tired. There is also a shortage of affordable long-term rentals — so many short-term vacation rentals and not enough long-term options. Thus, the reason small businesses are having a horrible time finding and retaining employees that can remain in our area. 

Rick DeBlasio, General Manager of Shady Lane Cellars in Suttons Bay, and President of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association
The most exciting news you anticipate in 2022 for the wine trail? 
As a whole, the wineries on the Leelanau Peninsula have really evolved and developed a rich, dynamic tasting experience that really engages customers with the wine and cider being produced. Reservation-based tastings are at an all-time high and that is coupled with more intentional tastings and service that I think blends for a much more engaging experience for our consumers.
Your professional expectation for 2022? I think the profile of Leelanau Peninsula wineries and the wine they produce continues to elevate at a rapid rate which is exciting to be a part of. Watching the LP presence in retail on restaurant wine lists continue to grow is something you can really get excited about.
What does Leelanau County need the most? I think one of the silver linings through COVID has been this strong sense of community and community partnership and we are really hopeful to see that continue in a way that builds the entire peninsula collectively. 

Adriene Kokowicz, Senior Vice President, The Homestead
The most exciting news for the hospitality business?
Providing full service for our guests, owners and the community in our restaurants, recreation amenities and room accommodations. Because of the pandemic, so many of our services had to be scaled back. I’m hopeful we can return to full service again soon.
Which word best fits your professional expectation? Adaptability. If we’ve all learned one thing these past few years, it’s the ability to adapt to changing conditions. I don’t see this as going away anytime soon.
What does Leelanau County need the most in 2022? More people who want to work in the hospitality business. It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is suffering from lack of staff, even though [Leelanau County] businesses are providing some of the highest wages in the area. Lots of opportunities for those who are looking to find good jobs providing increased benefits and wages.

Bob Sutherland, President of Cherry Republic, headquartered in Glen Arbor
Most anticipated news?
As we head into 2022, I think the biggest thing for the cherry industry and Cherry Republic is that we are crossing our fingers for a banner local cherry crop this summer. Lost in the pandemic news over the last two years are two bad cherry crops in 2019 and 2020. Across northern Michigan, our cupboards are bare, and the farers and industry could really bounce back with orchards in the north swaying with the weight of cherries ready to harvest.
In Glen Arbor, we are expanding our Cherry Public House so we can serve more dinners and offer more variety at the same time. We are not ready to disclose yet, but we should have some exciting news to share about some downtown Traverse City changes for Cherry Republic that will begin fall 2022.
Word that best fits your professional expectation? Nimble. This upcoming year is the biggest unknown I have ever entered since starting Cherry Republic 32 years ago. Look at all the variables — the pandemic, inflation, a shrunken workforce, climate uneasiness, political polarization, cherry crop worries — I want my company and staff and myself in a good place of nimbleness where we can jump at opportunities and dodge threats.
What does Leelanau County need most? To take action. We know the issues confronting us in regard to our housing and workforce shortages, for example. We know the solutions. We just need to take action.

Sunrise photo taken 12/26/21 on Lake Leelanau by Ethan Hohnke, photographer/owner at Captures By Ethan 


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