The Big Impact of Small Business on a Small Town

It's no secret that starting a small business goes hand-in-hand with taking some big risks. But the risk/reward payoff of small business success has the potential to go way beyond profits for owners. Check out this story of how one high-flying, high-risk business is helping rebuild the small town where it began.

One of many pleasures of my role in customer advocacy at Zenefits is the veritable welcome mat our customers offer us to learn about the passions and purposes behind their small or mid-sized businesses. It’s uniquely inspiring to get a front-row view of their founder’s stories and the lessons learned as they’ve grown. And it’s been mind-blowing to see a very consistent theme: many of these business owners, along with providing jobs for employees and profits for themselves, also offer tireless efforts to pay it forward as they build their own success. These efforts can be an enormous boon to small towns in particular, like the town of Allegan, Michigan, the birthplace of Sky Trail Management and Development.

Sky Trail Management began in the trees. Literally. Husband and wife team Jim and Michelle Liggett started a business managing ropes courses in Allegan, where they lived. Over the years, growing consumer interest in adventure, confidence- and team-building (and long cold winters in their home state of Michigan) led them to develop and patent indoor climbing systems. From there, the adventurous couple built up advanced sales, construction, and distribution of its equipment as well as a growing number of family entertainment parks.

As their businesses and teams have grown across state and country lines, so too have their attention to Allegan, their hometown, where ups and downs in the local industry have put the town’s economy in flux since the 1970s.

Today, the Liggetts are deeply involved in the urban revitalization of Allegan, population 5,000, contributing not only through job creation at their local entertainment center but also by actively investing in, buying and refurbishing many of the nearly century-old downtown buildings and then attracting new businesses to set up shop in them. The couple even contributed a zipline straddling the Kalamazoo River that runs along Allegan’s downtown.

We’re so proud to partner with small businesses like Sky Trail Management and Development on their missions to do more: for fun, for family and for the future of the towns where they began.

Here is more on Sky Trail Management’s Zenefits story:

Want to see more stories about how small and mid-sized businesses across the country are changing the game for their people, their markets and even their local towns and cities? Check out our Success Story page, here.


Photo courtesy of Abonmarche of Benton Harbor.