Farm in Sleeping Bear

View the 2022 Sleeping Bear Gateways Council Annual Meeting PresentationWe invite you to click to view a PDF of the 2022 Annual Meeting Presentation. The link will open in a new window.

SBGC is a non-profit organization that works to facilitate information sharing and collaboration among communities impacted by the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Those communities, mainly in western Leelanau and Benzie counties, have relatively small year-round populations, but experience a huge rush of summer tourism. That seasonal increase supports the local economy, at the same time it raises concerns about such issues as traffic, infrastructure, and environmental protection.

The SBCG’s stated mission is “facilitate stakeholder collaboration to enhance sustainable gateway communities.” The organization seeks to balance the benefits and challenges of living and doing business in the unique region.

“While National Lakeshore visitation was down or flat in some months of 2022, the challenges faced by our Gateway communities continue to grow,” said SBCG President Bill Witler. “The annual meeting was a great opportunity to communicate with our members and the public.”

In the past year, the group has begun a project to address the area’s shortage of seasonal employee housing; initiated a series of face-to-face meetings among local elected leaders and National Lakeshore administrators; and coordinated an effort to study the potential for a Benzie visitor center.

The seasonal housing project is part of multi-year effort supported by regional foundations and a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture. SBGC is piloting an internet-based seasonal employee housing exchange. It continues the development of additional employee-housing strategies with help from a task force that includes small businesses as well as such major local employers as Crystal Mountain and Cherry Republic.

For the proposed Benzie Visitor Center, SBGC is working closely with the Honor Area Restoration Program (HARP) in an effort to build consensus and identify alternatives.