We are already experiencing unseasonably warm days and the incomparable beautiful evenings that signal early summer. For me, this has always been a season of industrious home improvement projects---this year it’s windows, every single window in the house to be exact---followed by a race to get the pontoon boat in the water. In spite of the challenges presented by small nieces and nephews, dogs and cats, neighbors and friends, I am pretty determined that the first sweltering hot day will not take any of us by surprise.
I live in a media world that is always ahead of schedule. June for most folks is August for me, Fourth of July weekend provides a break from planning Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. There is a hidden advantage in this though, a small window into the future through our client’s eyes. This year we’re seeing optimism in so many of our Lake Michigan communities. Builders are building again. Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, one of the premier projects in the country, is hard at work on the lakefront apex: the rise of the hotel-harbor-boardwalk that will become the new center of a born-again city. (Read Jane Ammeson’s take on how the decades-old vision of former Whirlpool CEO Dave Whitwam continues to march resolutely to completion on page xx.)
Tourism along the shore has never been better and it’s growing. The Pure Michigan campaign is deep into an eighth season. Tim Allen’s voice is all over the radio again, taking us back to golf games, sand castles, dunes hikes and music festivals gone by. According to the state’s recently released tourism report, $1.1 billion was spent by the 3.8 million visitors to Michigan in 2012 and for every dollar spent on marketing the state got back nearly $6 in taxes.
Our publication, along with our partner Southwestern Michigan Tourism Council, have some statistics of our own that hint at a record-breaking season to come: Fashion on the Shore, which was moved to a Friday night in April this year, attracted more than three times the number of emerging designers (24), double the number of models as well as the number of audience members filling the main ballroom at the Heritage Center. Two of the top three prizes went to returning designers from Western Michigan and Central Michigan Universities. You will be reading detailed coverage of the event and the designs in the October/November 2013 Shore. Publication of that issue is timed to overlap with the Fashion on the Shore exhibition at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joe opening in August.
New businesses have popped up over the winter and veteran businesses are discovering new audiences meandering up the shoreline to Valparaiso, LaPorte, Chesterton, Long Beach, Michigan City, Grand Beach, New Buffalo, Stevensville, Bridgman, St. Joe/Benton Harbor, Berrien Springs, South Haven, Saugatuck, Douglas, Holland, Zeeland, Fennville and Grand Rapids.
Shore is the guidebook. Welcome to summer.