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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Alpena business and education leaders come together to discuss partnership opportunities that prepare students, adults for high-demand, high-wage careers


Dan Olsen

517-290-7807 | olsend1@michigan

ALPENA, Mich. – More than 30 business, K-12 and higher-education leaders gathered in Alpena to discuss talent needs, potential barriers and partnerships to help form consortia that will allow them to apply for Marshall Plan funds and revolutionize Michigan’s education and talent development system. Today’s event is one in a series of Marshall Plan for Talent workshops being held around the state.

“These workshops are an opportunity to bring leaders of all sectors together to break down silos and develop innovative and creative solutions that address the state’s talent gap,” Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Director Roger Curtis said. “Although leaders in Alpena have already started to form these partnerships, the Marshall Plan for Talent will serve as a catalyst to help the area and state go further, faster.”

The Marshall Plan is an additional $100 million investment in innovative programs to revolutionize Michigan’s talent and education system. It supports schools that want to transform education through programs like competency-based certifications, world-class curricula and classroom equipment, scholarships and stipends, and support for career navigators and teachers. The funding complements the more than $225 million in existing talent development efforts in the state.

Though the events are designed to bring area leaders together, state leaders emphasized collaborations and partnerships are not limited geographically. Curtis noted the partnership between Alpena Community College and Consumers Energy as one example of a talent consortium.

In 2015, Consumers Energy posted more than 100 skilled trade positions, had over 4,000 applicants and only 50 were qualified candidates. To help fill the demand, Consumers expanded two training partnerships for electric line workers with Alpena Community College and Lansing Community College. Today, these colleges are the primary source of entry-level electric line workers for the company – hiring more than 100 highly-skilled individuals from these programs in two years.

“The Marshall Plan for Talent is about moving all of Michigan forward and that takes collaborations outside city, county and region lines,” Curtis said. “The partnership developed between Consumers Energy and Alpena Community College is a prime example of how the Marshall Plan can work to develop qualified talent for high-demand, high-wage careers.”

Business and education leaders say the Marshall Plan is a key part in ensuring the state can develop a stronger workforce that meets the state’s current and future talent demands.

“Alpena Community College is working diligently to expand our relationships with our rural K-12 partners in Northeast Michigan,” Alpena Community College Vice President for Instruction Deborah Bayer said. “We believe the Marshall Plan will play a major role in moving the needle on developing the workforce needed for major economic growth now and well into the future.”

Consumers Energy agrees.

“Consumers Energy purposefully engages with our education system to ensure a qualified talent pool for our jobs today and into the future,” Consumers Energy Michigan Talent Architect Sharon Miller said. “The Marshall Plan provides schools, colleges and employers resources to do the same throughout Michigan. It’s a win for the kids, the hometowns and employers.”

“As Michigan works to strengthen its education system and prepare all students to become lifelong learners, the Marshall Plan will be a driving force for ensuring everyone is at the table to develop innovative solutions to better prepare all students for life after high school,” Alpena Public Schools Career and Technical Education Director Joyce McCoy added. “Alpena stands ready to partner with other business and education leaders to build robust programs that help our students gain the 21st century skills that will land them a great-paying career in a high-demand field.” 

Michigan will have more than 811,000 career openings to fill through 2024, in fields that are facing a critical talent shortage. As the state considers talent preparation changes for these fields, the greatest demand for talent will be in increasingly high-skill, high-tech fields such as in information technology and computer science, manufacturing, health care and other business and Professional Trades careers.

For more information about the Marshall Plan for Talent, visit