Going the distance
Triathlete's 'Thousand Miles' run to boost businesses makes stop in Imlay
November 10, 2010IMLAY CITY — George Morse isn't a political candidate. He's not seeking office and he's not criticizing those at the helm.
But he is doing something about the state of affairs in Michigan: lacing up his running shoes.
Every week for the past couple of months Morse has embarked on a mission to go a "Thousand Miles for Michigan" to help support and promote small businesses. On Wednesday, Morse checked off Imlay City from his list of 200 communities in the running challenge.
"Michigan is getting a bum rap in the media, and people are speculating that our best days are behind us," Morse says. "That torques me off. I'm running to offset the negativity. People get stuck in negativity and negativity is contagious."
To counter that trend, Morse this summer launched his "Thousand Miles" run to inspire small business owners and employees and to offer support and assistance to help boost the state's economy.
"Most communities in Michigan cannot afford to lose one more business in their downtown," Morse says. "I want to help small business owners stay motivated and to not give up because they're so vital to our economy."
He conceived the "Thousand Miles" challenge because he didn't want to sit back and do nothing. Running grabs people's attention, Morse adds, and he hopes his goal will inspire positive change.
"The good news is positivity is contagious, too, and that's where we need to be to succeed as business owners, as communities and as a state," he says.
Morse knows something about success. A Subway franchisee for 17 years, the 45-year-old began a with a shop in Oscoda in 1993. In 2000 he expanded and now owns and operates five stores.
For the past six years, Morse has concentrated his efforts on sharing what he's learned as a small business and life coach.
In 2005, he wrote "Take Charge—Get Results: A Simple Approach to the Principles of Success," which still draws rave reviews from critics, business people and academics alike.
|George Morse shows his support for small businesses in Imlay City by stopping during his ‘Thousand Miles for Michigan’ run last week. photo by Randy Jorgensen.|
Morse says small business owners need to focus on tools and resources—both mental and physical—in order to succeed.
"I'm one of those resources," Morse says. "I'm willing to put my own skin in the game and go all over Michigan to help.
"We've got to get to the positive mental attitude, to the belief in our own possibility to succeed if we are to mount a comeback that's going to mean anything."
Morse says the Thousand Miles run has brought him evidence that the game is on in Michigan.
"I'm finding small business owners all over who believe in Michigan, who are there doing what they do every day, who care about their community," Morse says.
"What people have to understand is that 80 to 90 percent of everything a small business takes in goes right back to the community."
Morse has set some simple goals for Michiganders to demonstrate that truth.
The first is to adopt a local business.
"Pick your favorite business and next time you go in instead of exchanging the normal pleasantries, seek out the owner or the staff and tell them why they're your favorite and how much they mean to the community," he says.
Second? Go somewhere new at least once a month.
"Find a place that looks interesting that you've never been to before and go visit," he says. "Spend a half-day or a day. Eat lunch, go into a shop, buy something.
"If a couple million people would simply do that imagine what it would do for the economy," Morse says.
He says he believes in Michigan and in the power of the individual, adding that it's his goal to motivate others to believe, too.
"I'm asking people to get involved, to get busy and look for ways to make a difference," Morse says. "If we all do this together we can bring Michigan back and have a state that has an economy that matches its natural beauty."
To learn more about Morse and view video blogs from his Thousand Miles for Michigan Run, please visit
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.