December 11, 2008
Local, community partners in unprecedented collaboration
LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that state, local and community officials and organizations committed to helping the state's economy thrive have formed a Keep Michigan Working coalition to help workers and businesses that are impacted by the recession and economic downturn gripping the nation.
"In Michigan, we're focused on strategies to grow the economy and create jobs," Granholm said. "For example, we've put in place a one-of-a-kind No Worker Left Behind program that provides up to two years of free tuition at a community college to help workers get trained for the jobs we know exist. And we have put into place strategies that will attract and retain businesses in our state, including alternative energy companies that will create new energy jobs."
Granholm noted, however, that the latest jobless figures and the expectation of still higher jobless rates due to restructuring in the domestic auto industry along with a national recession, requires an unprecedented level of cooperation to ensure that businesses and workers who are in transition stay in Michigan.
"Collectively, we are committed to keep Michigan working," Granholm said.
Granholm explained that the coalition is bringing together organizations involved in programs that help workers and businesses from across the region to develop short and long term solutions to keep workers and businesses in Michigan. Specifically, the coalition has three action teams that include:
A talent action team that is identifying and implementing programs that will help keep the state's talented workforce in Michigan, including retraining the workforce to match the needs of employers who are hiring, identifying resources that may be available to help employees transition to new opportunities, and providing guidance, resources and assistance to support employees who want to transition into entrepreneurs.
A business action team that is developing a business retention and attraction plan that addresses three key areas: supplier diversification; business development in the emerging industries of alternative energy, defense, aerospace, life sciences, engineering technology, IT and logistics; and entrepreneurship.
Finally, a community action team is working to ease individuals' access to resources, mapping the services that are available, including identifying gaps that may exist, and identifying efficiencies that can be gained through the merger and consolidation of services within the human service and nonprofit network.
As part of the initiative, the state of Michigan's jobs website (www.michigan.gov/jobs) has been enhanced to include a variety of new features, including MI Careers in Transition designed to help dislocated workers. Additionally, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan's 2-1-1 initiative will be the entry point for those seeking assistance via the telephone.
Among the coalition's first projects is a rapid response plan for Chrysler workers who recently accepted the buyout or early retirement packages. Those workers have access to outplacement and re-employment assistance through the nine Michigan Works! one-stop career centers in Oakland County. The Michigan Works! Troy center is the lead agency in implementation of the Chrysler assistance program, which includes services such as employment workshops such as resume writing, self-help workshops such as entrepreneurial counseling, job services such as career counseling, and more. The Troy center will also be the clearinghouse for information about the many services being offered by nonprofit groups for dislocated Chrysler workers such as legal assistance, credit counseling, and networking opportunities.
As part of the coalition's business attraction and retention efforts, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) hosted a highly successful supplier diversification conference in early November with leaders from emerging-sector companies as well as companies that had successfully diversified. The event included tips for how suppliers could break into other industries, and MEDC is following up with the participants to offer assistance in transitioning these companies into emerging industries.
The governor said the Keep Michigan Working coalition is modeled after the state's response to the Pfizer job losses, which was successful in keeping highly skilled workers in Michigan for other opportunities. The governor said the effort that started in southeast Michigan, which has been impacted by changes in the auto industry, will likely expand to other regions of the state where workers and businesses, many of them supported by the auto industry, are also feeling the brunt of the struggling economy.
"Just since November 1, the state of Michigan has received 68 notices of job losses from companies, large and small, that have been affected by the national recession," Granholm said. "This has affected nearly 14,000 workers, and there is every indication that we will see more job losses before the national economy begins to turn around.
"Our priority is to retain our workers and businesses by helping them get the resources they need so they can thrive in a state that is committed to their future and our own," Granholm added.
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