News

How Will Proposed Budget Cuts Impact Our Services?

A Message from the CEO

 

According to the president's 2018 budget priorities, the administration is requesting $9.6 billion for the Department of Labor, a $2.5 billion (21 percent) decrease from the 2017 annualized CR (Continued Resolution) level.

Some of our community partners will be impacted by these cuts. While West Michigan Works! will not weigh in on the appropriateness of the funding levels, we pose the following questions:

  • Is the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps at risk of closing? If so, how will hundreds of youth who receive the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce be served? 
  • How many West Michigan seniors are served through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCEP)? If their funding is reduced, who will provide work-based job training for these low-income, unemployed seniors? 
  • How will these cuts impact our community?

 

The cuts also raise questions related to our own programs and services:

  • In coordination with community colleges in West Michigan, we have been working hard to meet employer demand by expanding apprenticeship programs. Does "helps States expand apprenticeships" mean that we can expect an increase in funding toward that end?
  • With "decreased support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities and employers," who will provide the supports needed to connect job seekers to employers? Will we see a 21 percent reduction in funding across all programs?
  • How will these cuts impact your business?

 

Over the last four years, Michigan Works! agencies in West Michigan (and many throughout the state) have worked strategically and thoughtfully to reduce costs by eliminating contracted services, and the system as a whole has consolidated administrative agencies (from 24 to 16). All while retaining a high level of service to our employers and job seekers. There is no room for additional cuts without risking the quality and availability of services.

Call to action

If you have received services from Michigan Works! and have benefited from the high level of professionalism and quality of service, we are asking you to write to your congressional leaders. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a few in Washington, D.C. and they reminded me that our country's system of checks and balances allows for members of the House and Senate to counter the president's priorities with the priorities of the their constituents.

Please write to your congressional representatives to encourage them to continue to make job training and employment services a priority. If you need assistance - where to send or a sample letter - please reach out to me directly at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you,

Jacob Maas

Greenville Manufacturer to Add Up to 70 Jobs

Milacron LLC, a manufacturer of plastic injection molding equipment, will be consolidating locations this summer. The decision will result in a $5 million investment in its Greenville facility and the addition of up to 70 new jobs. A collaboration between regional partners, including Montcalm Community College, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and West Michigan Works!, played a role in the decision to stay and expand in Greenville.

Read More>

MiCareerQuest 2017

Career Exploration Event Introduces Youth to In-Demand Careers 

“The exhibits were like real life job experiences,” said a middle school student. “I thought we were just going to listen to a whole bunch of speakers, but I like how you guys changed it up!”

Read more: MiCareerQuest 2017

Job Seeker Services Now Offered at North Kent Community Services

West Michigan Works! is proud to announce the location of a new affiliate site in Rockford. North Kent Community Services (NKCS), located at 10075 Northland Dr NE, is the largest food pantry and resource center in Northern Kent County. Michigan Works! staff will now be available at NKCS on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Job seekers can visit during these hours to receive a variety of employment services at no cost.

"We are pleased to partner with North Kent Community Services to better coordinate services for residents in northern Kent County," West Michigan Works! CEO Jacob Maas said. "Employers are looking for talent. This new location will offer a variety of job search resources to make that connection."

Read More:
MLive: North Kent Community Services joins with West Michigan Works! to offer resume assistance
Grand Rapids Business Journal: Workforce development agency partners for new location

New CNA Course Offered at Kent County Service Center

Trudy-Brenner
Trudy Brenner inside the CNA classroom at the Westside Service Center in Grand Rapids

The Westside Service Center now opens its doors to job seekers, employers and nursing manikins. A cohort of 11 adults are enrolled in a 13-week certified nursing assistant (CNA) course at the service center and will hopefully walk out with a new job.

Unlike some of the other students, one student in the cohort has many years of personal and professional CNA experience already; she’s taken care of family members with cancer, her Down syndrome son and in-home clients battling stage 4 illnesses. Trudy Brenner entered the class not only to become recertified as a CNA, but begin a new chapter of her life.

“Even though my certification only lapsed last fall, this class is a challenge. I’ve already learned new terminology and had to brush up on familiar terms,” Brenner said.

The program is a partnership between West Michigan Works! and Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI), the training arm to Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS). MRS works with individuals with disabilities to remove barriers to training and employment. 

Read more: New CNA Course Offered at Kent County Service Center

Ottawa County Service Center Welcomes New Manager

Allise Wilkerson, Service Center Manager

West Michigan Works! has announced the promotion of Allise Wilkerson to Manager of its service center in Ottawa County.

Wilkerson has been with Michigan Works! since 2010 and brings a wealth of program and managerial experience to her new position.  She began her career working with job seekers in the welfare to work program and most recently served as assistant manager for the service center in Holland.

“I am looking forward to building and growing relationships with community partners to promote and develop talent within Ottawa County.”

-Allise Wilkerson 

Read more: Ottawa County Service Center Welcomes New Manager

The 2017 Hot Jobs! List is Here

West Michigan Works! recently announced the release of its “2017 Hot Jobs List,” the top 100 jobs in the region’s high-growth industries: construction, manufacturing, information technology, health sciences, agriculture and professional and administrative services. 

The Hot Jobs Lists provides a regional look at in-demand occupations; those with significant openings today, that are expected to see considerable growth and that lead to self-sufficiency through living wages and opportunities for advancement. To create the list, West Michigan Works! gathers state labor market information and data from job analytic programs. The data is then presented to employers for feedback and insight into regional hiring needs that creates a true representation of what is going on regionally.

Because of its West Michigan focus, the Hot Jobs List serves as a decision-making guide for many regional organizations.

“At Muskegon Community College we appreciate the Hot Jobs! List as it demonstrates the openings in our training fields and points us to emerging job titles to incorporate into our programs. We like the regional outlook as it matches our career placement region; we know that we are giving relevant information and guidance to students.”

-Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, Dean of Academic Affairs at Muskegon Community College

Read more: The 2017 Hot Jobs! List is Here

California Closets Opening Manufacturing Facility in West Michigan

California Closets, a California-based custom storage manufacturer and retailer, has chosen to open a new manufacturing facility in Cascade Township. The company is expected to invest over $5.7 million in the new facility and create 61 new jobs.

The company chose the West Michigan location over other sites in Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Indiana.

“West Michigan is attractive to us due to many factors. The location offers proximity to our customers and supply base, but more importantly a strong talent base in manufacturing and design.”

- Eric Wolff, President – Fulfillment, California Closets

West Michigan Works! has offered $48,000 in workforce development support to assist with recruiting and on-the-job training efforts.

Read More:

MLive: California Closets will invest $5.7M in West Michigan with 61 new jobs
WOODTV: Closet Manufacturer bringing 61 jobs to Cascade Twp.
Grand Rapids Business Journal: California Storage Maker Investing $5.7M in new plant
Business Facilities: California Closets Chooses West Michigan for Manufacturing Facility

West Michigan Service Workers Recognized with Essential Service Awards

Essential Service Award Winners
Essential Service Award Winners (left to right) back row: Dave Janes, Michael VanHouten, Kelly Brinker, Dave Smith - Chair of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board, front row: Yolanda Marble, Terry White, Julio Ignacio Caballero, Linda El (not pictured: Shela Jones, Lisa Vanderlaan and the staff at Martin Marathon)

On Monday, February 20th at the meeting of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, 10 West Michigan residents were recognized for going above and beyond in their jobs. The Essential Service Awards has recognized the outstanding work of front-line service providers for nine years.

“We often overlook the significant contributions that a virtually invisible workforce make to our community and our economy. The Essential Service Awards recognize exceptional individuals performing these less visible but essential jobs.”
– Dave Smith, Chair of the West Michigan Works! Workforce Development Board

The awards highlight individuals who provide critical services that often go unnoticed and unrewarded, such as childcare providers, bus drivers or custodians. This year’s recipients were recognized in ten categories.

The winners of the 2016 Essential Service Awards by category are:

 

Linda El

According to her nomination, “Linda El has been a valued employee for Sylvia's Place for over 10 years. She has proven her ability to stay calm and resolved even in the most difficult of circumstances. She is truly a dependable "rock" for all of the staff here at Sylvia's Place.”

Dave Janes

According to Janes’ nomination, “Dave treats every customer as though they're the first of his day. Despite the length of the line, he spends as much time as needed to make sure each customer is served thoroughly. Sometimes I purposely don't use the self-service kiosk so I can interact with Dave! I leave the post office feeling great because of the kindness and compassion he exudes behind the counter.”

Yolanda "Pretty" Marble

Yolanda “Pretty” Marble is a cashier for the Muskegon Community College's Grab-n-Go. According to Yolanda’s nomination, “Her job is to sell food items to students, but she does so much more. Pretty knows our students, she engages in conversations with them, provides support to them. When you pass by the Grab-n-Go there is frequently a crowd of students engaged in conversation with Pretty. She supports then with words of encouragement with their classwork, finals, and in their personal lives. Feeling part of a community is important for college students. For many of our students, Pretty creates that community.”

Lisa Vanderlaan

Lisa Vanderlaan is a customer care representative for Muskegon Area Transit Systems. Lisa’s job is to schedule rides on the Go Bus, a county-wide transportation service for persons over age 60 with health issues or a disability. “Lisa is dedicated to helping this group of people,” said Lisa’s supervisor. “She will adjust their ride schedules to cut down the wait or ride time; she believes their time is just as valuable as anyone else’s. Lisa knows all the customers by their first name. Many times, the customers ask for Lisa to set their schedules.”

Customer Service Team at Martin Marathon

The staff at the Martin Marathon were nominated for the high level of customer service they provide. “When I step into the Martin Marathon I fully anticipate an engaging experience with dedicated staff,” said their nominator, a regular customer. “I visit the station each week to purchase gas cards, which can be a long and complicated process. Regardless of how busy they are, they work with me to get through our process and do so with patience and efficiency.”

Learn more about ESA> 

Money Management Workshop Coming to Kent County

The Michigan State University (MSU) Extension in Kent County is offering a free Money Management workshop series at our Franklin Service Center. This three-part series will cover topics like creating and managing spending plans, the importance of savings and investing, credit card use and paying off debt. Attendees will leave with the information and tools to better manage their financial resources, achieve their goals and increase their financial stability.

The workshop is offered at no cost, but pre-registration is required to participate. Contact Jinnifer Ortquest, MSU Extension Educator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 616-632-7874.

Learn More>

What: Money Management Series
Dates: March 15, 17 & 22
Time: 1 – 3 pm
Where: West Michigan Works! Franklin Service Center
            Kent County Human Services Complex
            121 Franklin St SE, Suite 120
            Grand Rapids, MI 49507