Leelanau Peninsula Business Survey
In a survey conducted in the spring of 2016 by the Leelanau Peninsula Economic Foundation, business owners in Leelanau County were queried on several important issues; most importantly their perceptions of the advantages of doing business in Leelanau County and the most critical barriers to their business success and growth. Here's a brief summary of what we found:
1. The natural environment is our strongest advantage.
When asked in an open-ended question what they perceive to be the greatest advantages of owning a business in Leelanau County, business owners say that the natural beauty of the area (38%) provides their greatest entrepreneurial advantage, followed closely by — and closely related to — tourism (27%). Local business owners also point to a sense of community and local consumer support (20%) and the quality of life (15%) as key business advantages.
2. The cost of living in Leelanau is a serious constraint on business growth.
The downside to owning a business in “the most beautiful place in America” is hiring and retaining a workforce that — because of rising property values — cannot afford to live here. When given a list of 16 issues and asked to report whether their experience with the issue ranged from excellent (no need for improvement) to poor (a significant barrier to our success), two related issues stood out as serious impediments to business growth: 1) availability of affordable housing for employees and 2) finding a sufficient quantity of workers, especially in the summer. Fully 74% find the issue of affordable workforce housing a significant barrier to business success, and 44% say that finding enough workers is a serious impediment.
Other important business challenges include (with percent saying the issue is a significant barrier to success): availability of childcare options for employees (37%); availability of overnight accommodations in the county (33%); finding enough qualified workers (32%); and availability of high speed internet (30%).
3. Leelanau business owners "give at the office".
Nearly all business owners in Leelanau County are philanthropically active. When asked which of six possible charitable activities that their business was engaged in, virtually all (94%) report at least one charitable activity, including 84% who contribute financially to charities or non-profit organizations, 77% who provide in-kind goods or services to local charities, and 74% who sponsor local groups or activities.