When the economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage
conducted a survey of West Michigan area business owners and employers last fall, more than 70 percent of respondents said the biggest challenge facing the growth of their business was talent, whether it was in the area of acquisition, retention, or just not enough skilled labor in general.
“That percentage was how we knew we needed to respond to this specific area of issue,” says Vice President of Talent Solutions Angela Huesman. Her organization recently launched the new Michigan Smart Coast website
, which, after a one-year concept development and build, has launched as a tool to help West Michigan employers attract more workers and new talent.
Houseman says the content of the website — which includes information about cost of living, community descriptions
, products made in the region, and links to temporary housing — was driven largely by key findings pulled from surveys of local employers, chambers of commerce, and focus group discussions with young professionals who recently moved to the area, with results indicating a desire by new recruits to feel connected to the region, with a place to find recreation, group events, and volunteer opportunities.
“Part of it included discussions with young professionals in the area to say, ‘When you relocated here what are some of the things helpful for you to know that you couldn’t find?’” says Huesman, adding that the Michigan Smart Coast site also gives visitors an idea of the depth of industry in the region, which she says not only supports career growth once individuals move to West Michigan, but also helps to satisfy any curiosity about other businesses and employment opportunities available.
“Often times someone taking a job from out of the area may know about the company they’re coming to work for, but they may not know what else is here, and so it kind of offers an option to say, ‘Here’s what else is available in the area should the job you’re moving here for not work out for whatever reason,’” she says.
With Ottawa County unemployment rates
dipping down to 3 percent in 2016 — below both the state and national rates of 4.8 percent and 5 percent respectively — Lakeshore Advantage the Michigan Smart Coast website offers a more immersive kind of platform for curious job-seekers, which President Jennifer Owens says is important for today’s young professionals, who are looking for more than just a job when deciding where to make their homes.
“This website tells our story that West Michigan is the place to start and further your career while experiencing life fulfillment and connectedness through personal and professional opportunities,” Owens says.
to check out the new Michigan Smart Coast website for yourself.
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Lakeshore Advantage/MI Smart Coast