At the beginning of 2018, a project began to take shape to connect with craft brewers and vintners of all shapes and sizes to generate interest in brewing and doing business in the Thumb area. The project, called the Forgotten Coast Collective, aims to present the area's assets to these creators so they may start or grow their business in an area ripe for developing spirits.
Carl Osentoski, Director of the Huron County Economic Development Corporation, driven with the desire to positively impact the communities, residents, and economic pockets of the thumb area sought after resources to accomplish just this. It just so happened to come under the umbrella of craft beverage production and business, which is a perfect fit for the area’s vast freshwater supply, low-cost real estate opportunities, and up and coming tourism market.
Working together with Business Soil, a local marketing, and web development company, the team pulled together to discuss a unique way to brand and position the initiative. “We knew whatever we chose to pursue needed to capture the attention of future and current craft brewers, like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, and thirsty residents and travelers,” says Paula Mausolf, project manager for Business Soil. “After some deliberation, the term ‘forgotten coast’ was tossed around. It seemed to fit the quirkiness and goals of the initiative and didn’t confine the project to one specific cause. The term ‘forgotten coast’ is more or less a setting that not only highlights our unique geography and history but also provides us with a backdrop to create a new story moving forward.”
The term forgotten has a certain mystery about it that plays well with the history of our area, and it gets people’s attention. Even before the Thumb was ever considered a vacation destination, let alone a place to conduct business or build a life, a prominent statesman declared the area “could never be of any importance” as it was thought to be comprised of impenetrable swampland and therefore was not considered for surveying. This, in turn, impeded settlement in the area for many years. Fast forward more than a century later and what once was thought as inhabitable land now produces some of the most bountiful crops and agricultural commodities in the world. Despite this indisputable success, we’re still working to claim our place in Michigan and the greater landscape of the United States. The Forgotten Coast Collective recognizes how far we’ve come and acknowledges how many more possibilities our area has yet to explore, craft beverages being one of those possibilities.
“Benefits: Access to a vast supply of fresh water, low cost of property, nearby agricultural producers, lack of competition, strong tourism presence, short distance from population centers, natural attractions, a team to help you”
From “Why We’re Good for Your Business” on forgottencoastcollective.com
Our area has a lot to offer beyond the conventional agricultural commodities that are grown and harvested here. Agriculture has remained in the spotlight for so long that many of the other unique qualities of our area have somewhat fallen by the wayside. This includes our vast fresh water supply (access to approximately 95% of the U.S. total freshwater supply) and all the necessary and fun opportunities it provides. Water is an essential component of life (and beverages, like beer), and it’s a resource that we haven’t called much attention to until recently. Pair this with the unique attractions like shallow water shipwrecks you can view by a quick kayak trip, natural rock formations like Turnip Rock, more than 150 miles of shoreline, and some of the best fishing in the world and voila, our water is an invaluable asset and ready to quench a thirsty craft beverage industry.
Our unique history has left us with a copious amount of both affordable and interesting real estate options, perfect for the next brewpub or distillery. All this and an up and coming tourism market and an A-team to help you put it all together makes a huge impression we feel potential craft brewers, entrepreneurs, and investors will find attractive.
The last eleven months have been a whirlwind of market research, communication, data organization, creation, revision, and more creation of digital and physical assets, and countless tasks to establish the bedrock of the Forgotten Coast Collective. This includes an interactive and intuitive website, social media channels, marketing materials, and countless plans and strategies to launch the initiative to infinity and beyond. The next phase of the project will take a hands-on approach to connect with potential candidates, refining existing processes, and getting the word out there, that the forgotten coast is where you want to live, work, play, and brew (and drink)!