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

Service Center Delays

Due to the weather, the Michigan Works! Service Centers in Kent and Muskegon will open at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

2017 Skilled Trades Training Fund Awards

The State of Michigan recently announced its Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) awards for FY 2017.  Since 2013, the STTF has injected millions of dollars into the Michigan economy for short term training in high-demand occupations. The thirteen-county West Michigan region has historically received the highest award totals and this year was no exception.  Employers in West Michigan have been awarded more than $5.1 million in training funds. These employers are listed below by county. 

ALLEGAN - $628,738 in funding

Bay Valley Foods LLC

Coastal Automotive

Code Blue Corporation

Eclipse Tool & Die, Inc

Ely Manor

Haworth, Inc

K & R Truck Sales Inc

Koops Inc

MPF Acquisitions, Inc

Parker Hannifin Corporation

Perrigo Company - Allegan

Ropes Courses, Inc


Stampede Die and Engineering (Stampede Die Corp)

Trans-Matic Manufacturing Company

Uniform Color Company

Williams Tooling & Manufacturing, Inc

Windenmuller Electric, Inc


IONIA - $11,450 in funding

Metron Integrated Health Systems

Wiesen Inc


KENT - $2,322,325 in funding

Action Mold and Machining, Inc

American Seating Co

ArtiFlex Manufacturing

Autocam Precision Components Group

Autodie, LLC

Best Metal Products

Buist Electric

Butterball Farms, Inc

Cascade Die Casting Group - Great Lakes

Cascade Die Casting Group - Mid State

Challenge Manufacturing - Walker Location

Cherry Street Services, Inc dba Cherry Health

Commercial Tool and Die

Conical Tool

Country Fresh

CQL, Inc

Cresco Solutions, Inc

CUP Acquisition LLC dba Custom Profile

D+M Metal Products

Die Cad Group, Inc

Eikenhout Inc

Elevator Up LLC

Emerald Corporation

Engineered Tooling Systems, Inc

Gill Industries, Bond Facility

Gill Industries, Plainfield Facility

Health Net of West Michigan

Hearthside Food Solutions, LLC (H1)

Hearthside Food Solutions, LLC (H2)

Jireh Metal Products, Inc

Kenona Industries Inc

Lumbermen's Inc

Mark-Maker Company

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Mercy Health

Metron Integrated Health Systems - Cedar Springs

Metron Integrated Health Systems - Forest Hills

Michigan Turkey Producers, Inc

Micron Mfg Company

NVINT Services LLC

Oliver Packaging and Equipment Company

Open Systems Technologies DE, LLC

Plasan Carbon Composites

Precision Aerospace Corp

Rapid Tooling Systems, Inc

Rest Haven Homes, Inc

SoundTech, Inc

Specialty Tooling Systems

Spectrum Health 

Steel Craft Technologies

Swoboda, Inc

Van Haren Electric

Walker Tool & Die, Inc

West Michigan International

West Thomas Partners, LLC (Gluten Free Bar)

Wilkast Inc

Williams Distributing Co.


MONTCALM  - $76,030 in funding

Federal Mogul

Greenville Tool & Die Co

Metron Integrated Health Systems – Greenville


MUSKEGON - $800,087 in funding

Anderson Global, Inc

Century Foundry, Inc

Dynamic Conveyor

Howmet Corporation (also known as Alcoa Howmet)

Johnson Technology

L-3 Combat Propulsion Systems


Mercy Health Partners

Scherdel Sales & Technology

Fleet Engineers

Motion Dynamics


OTTAWA COUNTY - $1,280,003 in funding

Active Manufacturing Corp

Altron Automation

Baumann Tool and Die

Benteler Automotive Aluminum

Carter Manufacturing Co., Inc

Competition Engineering

Composite Builders

DHE Plumbing and Mechanical

Driesenga & Associates

GNS America

H.S. Die & Engineering, Inc

Herman Miller

ITW Powertrain Metals (ITW Drawform)

Lauren Manufacturing

Magna Mirrors (Holland)

Magna Mirrors of America, Inc. dba Engineered Glass

Meridian, Inc.

Metron Integrated Health System - Lamont

MFP Automation Engineering


Parkway Electric & Communications, LLC

Royal Technologies

Shorescape Investments LLC

SoundOff Signal

Star Crane & Hoist, Inc

Transfer Tool Products



Yanfeng Automotive Interiors

DeWys Manufacturing


NPR of America

West Michigan Companies Receive Over $5 Million in Training Grants

For fiscal year 2017, more than $5 million in Skilled Trades Training Funds (STTF) have been awarded to companies in the seven county region serviced by West Michigan Works! This includes nine employers in Muskegon County that received more than $700,000 in grant funding. The STTF grants are expected to impact 257 current full-time employees and 233 new full-time, permanent employees in Muskegon County.

"This fund is an incredible resource for local businesses to invest in their workforce and increase efficiency and productivity by giving workers additional skills," said Ed Gardener, president and CEO of Muskegon Area First.

Read More>

Change to the Food Assistance Program in Kent and Ottawa Counties

Certain federal work requirements for able-bodied adults ages 18 to 49 without dependents go back into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, in Kent and Ottawa Counties.

Able-bodied individuals may only receive food assistance benefits for up to three months within a 36-month period without meeting these work requirements. After that time, they will be required to work an average of 20 hours per week in unsubsidized employment, participate 20 hours per week in an approved employment and training program or participate in community service at a nonprofit organization to continue to receive food assistance.  More information>

$6 Million Grant to Provide Pipeline of Health Care Workers

The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded more than $111 million in grants to 23 regional partners in 28 states. Grants ranged from $1.8 to $6 million. Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) received $6 million to expand its workforce partnerships in West Michigan.

The funding will be used to provide health care employee retention, recruitment and training. Bill Pink, Dean and Vice President of GRCC’s School of Workforce Development stated, “West Michigan’s health care employers have been struggling to fill positions ranging from entry-level to highly skilled jobs.” Pink added, “community-wide collaboration will be vital to addressing these talent needs.”

GRCC will lead a coalition of education institutions and community groups that includes West Michigan Works! on the project. “Our partnership with West Michigan Works! and community-based organizations will be key to recruitment, retention and employment success,” said Julie Pars, GRCC’s Executive Director of Workforce Training.

Read More>

Essential Service Awards: Nominations Now Open!

Do you know someone who goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service? Recognize them for all they do by nominating them for an Essential Service Award today! 

Nominations accepted through December 23, 2016.

Learn more and submit a nomination


LINKED Muskegon: Targeting the Manufacturing Skilled Labor Gap

LINKED ImageA 2015 survey by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute reported that 80 percent of manufacturers believe the growing skills gap will affect their productivity, and this is only expected to increase. Over the next decade there will likely be over 3 million manufacturing jobs needed and 2 million will go unfilled due to the skills gap.

LINKED Muskegon is a collaborative effort in Muskegon County between the area’s adult education programs, the Career Technical Center and West Michigan Works!. During the 18 week program, students work on high school diploma or GED completion, receive training in CNC machining or welding and develop employability skills to prepare them for their future careers.

Ten students participated in the pilot program during the spring of 2016. The program culminated with a showcase where students met with local employers to discuss their experience and skills. Seven of the pilot program's participants were placed into employment and seven received their GED or high school diploma upon completion.

The next showcase will take place on January 26, 2017. If you would like to attend the showcase or learn more about LINKED, please contact Kari Wiersema at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (231) 332-3925.