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      Extended fall colors create boost in economy

      Whether they are heading into town to do some shopping, eating at a local restaurant, or just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful fall colors, officials say that the 2013 fall season has drawn in crowds and much needed dollars.

      "It's extremely important in the fall season because one of the things that we've been working on is trying to avoid the seasonality where we have huge numbers of people coming in June, July, and August, and then we have a drop off the rest of the year which means people get laid off and businesses have to kind of struggle through till the next good time," said Mike Norton from Traverse City Tourism.

      With thousands of people from all over the country flocking to our area, officials at the Traverse City Tourism office say that hotels in the area are nearly full.

      "That spreads out into all of our businesses," said Norton. "Our retail, our restaurants, even things like gas stations. Those folks all benefit when tourism is up."

      Cherry Republic Supervisor, Kaylena Kinney, says that she has also noticed a business boost, and that sales are up nearly 10-percent compared to the 2012 fall season.

      "It just means a lot to us," said Kinney. "A lot of people will come up from downstate and make that little trip because they see the wonderful weather up here and they want to enjoy it in the beautiful area that we live in."

      Owners of the downtown food trucks agree and say that when the weather is good, business is good.

      "If it's a downpour or a blizzard, we're done for the day pretty much," said Simon Joseph, owner of the Roaming Harvest food truck.

      The Traverse City Tourism office reports that the fall colors are sticking around longer this year due to the cooler temperatures and rainy weather from the beginning of the season. Business owners say that having a longer fall season will help out with business in the upcoming slower months.

      "Kind of like a bear getting ready to hibernate," said Joseph. "Any more that you can build your reserves and insulate yourself for the weather to come and the slow down in business the better."