LAKE COUNTY — Lake County has a complicated economic history, which in recent times has not always been positive. That's not stopping its residents from taking steps to make the future of the community brighter.

The Lake County Economic Development Committee is developing a county-wide business directory, the completion of which will mean strong improvements to Lake County's business community, according to the committee. They are putting out a call to all businesses who are not yet included on the directory to contact them so they can be added.

The Lake County Economic Development Committee was developed a year ago to improve the county's economic status and develop positive economic projects like the directory. It is an all-volunteer staff, and is headed by county commissioners Dan Sloan, Barb Stenger and John Brunn.

"We want to use this directory to promote these businesses and encourage residents to buy local," said Sloan. "At meetings when we've discussed local businesses, I can't count the times we've had someone say 'if I knew there was this kind of store in Lake County, I wouldn't have had to drive to Reed City,' or something to that effect."

The directory is planned to create positive change in a number of ways, but the most notable is the free downloadable app that is being made in conjunction with the directory. The app will not only list businesses, but use the business information in conjunction with Lake County's trail system and other tourism-based attractions.

"The key way this project will help is with the app," said Sloan. "It will allow visitors to see not only trails, but local businesses like campgrounds, lodging and restaurants. We want to attract more people through programs like our ORV promotions and then use the app to promote local businesses to these tourists and sportsmen."

More than 400 businesses and organizations have already registered. The committee is trying to get this information collected by the end of March so they can begin verifying the information and complete the directory by May 1.

Residents from all over the county contributed to the committees findings, but the committee is always looking for more input. The committee also is trying to encourage the creation of a nonprofit economic development organization to help guide the future of Lake County's development.

"This county has suffered from chronic unemployment and chronic poverty," said Sloan. "We want to reverse that not by giving people a fish, but by teaching them to fish."

Those who own a business, even a home business, are encouraged to provide their business name, type of business, address, phone, website and/or Facebook page for the directory project. Dan Sloan can be contacted with this information at district3ds@co.lake.mi.us or by calling (231) 287-2309.