Berrien County has seen a slight population decline in each of the last seven years. In 2017, the State of Michigan recognized its lowest birthrate since 1945. All of that comes on the heels of the 2018 United States Census Bureau announcement that national population growth (0.62%) was at its lowest levels in more than 80 years.
“The equation for long-term success is simple – we need more people,” said Rob Cleveland, President & CEO of Cornerstone Alliance. “A review of the Michigan population statistics shows that we have largely reshuffled our population instead of growing it. There are tens of thousands of people coming into our community every year. They come here to swim at the great beaches, to tastes the finest wines, to eat amazing food and to enjoy cross country and downhill skiing. We hear it time and time again, that they don’t want to leave.”
The Vacay Every Day (web site) campaign is a community-owned asset that was created by King Media, an award-winning St. Joseph, Michigan, marketing and public relations firm. The campaign will reach tourists from around the United States who visit Southwest Michigan every year and encourage them to make Southwest Michigan their home. The campaign will launch in the Fall of 2019 with a television, radio, billboard and social media outreach, and will continue into the Spring of 2020.
According to Cleveland, “The Cornerstone Alliance Board of Directors is supporting the initiative because they know that this is a community-wide challenge. We are expecting the dollars spent to be leveraged by other community partners who see the importance of increasing our population. This is not a marketing campaign. Vacay Every Day is a recruitment campaign. Its sole focus is to let people know you don’t have to leave from your vacation. You can stay in Southwest Michigan to live, work, play and vacay – every day.”
People are the center of every aspect of economic development. More and more, site location decisions are based primarily on available workforce and skills. Community partners including Michigan Works! of Berrien Cass and Van Buren Counties, Lake Michigan College and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation are able to train individuals of all ages for the jobs of tomorrow. Transportation, workforce and public education are just a few of the many areas that are impacted by the number of people living in a community. The Vacay Every Day campaign will benefit the entire community. Bringing more residents to Berrien County will create a larger workforce, an expanding tax base, more funding for local schools, more businesses for the bustling and eclectic downtowns, and a more diverse, inclusive place to live.“The Vacay Every Day campaign will make a lasting impact on the economy in Southwest Michigan,” said Christina Frank, Vice President of External Affairs at Cornerstone Alliance. “By leveraging one of our community’s greatest assets – a thriving tourism industry – we will be able to successfully target, engage and educate an audience that has the greatest potential to relocate to our community. These individuals already have a familiarity and a love for the community. Now we will get the chance to show them the opportunities available to not just vacation here, but also to live and work here."