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Labor and Economic Opportunity

New Talent Development Liaison team will help build business and education partnerships

Contact: Stepheni Schlinker

LANSING, MI August 2, 2018 - The Michigan Talent Investment Agency (TIA) today announced the establishment of their Talent Development Liaison team who will focus on engaging with employers and educators and encouraging partnerships to address talent needs and identifying mid- and long-term strategies to address the skill gaps in key industries in Michigan.

The creation of the team is part of Gov. Rick Snyder's Marshall Plan for Talent, which focuses heavily on building real and sustainable partnerships between business and education.

"The Talent Development Liaison Team is another step forward in improving Michigan's education and talent development systems," Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan Director Roger Curtis said. "Business and education partnerships are key components in connecting the dots between business needs and how we can best address the gap in the state's talent pipeline."

Liaisons will be assigned to serve each of the prosperity regions across the state, offering expertise for an industry sector and providing technical assistance to fellow liaisons and regions who are focused on specific industry sectors.

"The Talent Development Liaison concept enhances existing programs housed separately within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs)and TIA Workforce Development," Stephanie Beckhorn, Director of TIA's Workforce Development Agency, said. "By creating these liaisons, it allows us to work collaboratively with our partners to focus on local and regional talent needs and opportunities."
The new Talent Development Liaison Team will serve as connectors, coordinators and conveners to ensure employers and educators develop strong partnerships regardless of which partner, or organization, they engage with initially. 

"Since economic development is often tied to talent development, our goal is to create a one-stop shop for employers to access both economic and talent development solutions to help Michigan businesses continue to thrive and help attract new business to Michigan," Curtis said.

Talent Development Liaisons will work side-by-side with MEDC's Business Development Managers and the MWA's business services teams to ensure Michigan businesses access Marshall Plan for Talent initiatives, as well as the many existing talent development programs available from the State of Michigan.

To lead that task, Deb Lyzenga, former business solutions director for West Michigan Works!, has been hired to implement and oversee the Talent Development Liaison team within TIA. Lyzenga has 18 years of leadership experience in workforce development, education, and private sector manufacturing. She has successful project management experience through new program development and business expansion. At West Michigan Works!, she was instrumental in the development of several apprenticeship programs and she provided strategic state and local resources to businesses in West Michigan.

The Talent Development Liaison team is made up of incumbent TIA staff who are already engaged in this type of work.  TIA will also be hiring a few additional staff members to serve in the liaison role. The current liaisons will focus on their respective industry in their assigned prosperity regions.

Kevin Chau - Chau worked for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for 13 years for the department's Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness. Chau's industry focus is Information Technology and Health Care.

James Fults - Fults worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections for three years as an employment counselor for the Vocational Village. He is also an active duty army medic and continues to serve in the Michigan Army National Guard. Fults' industry focus is Professional Trades and Transportation.

Rey Guzman - Guzman has worked in a variety of capacities in Michigan state government, including as a coordinator for TIA's Trade Adjustment Assistance; a regional business services representative for Michigan Rehabilitation Services; a finance analyst for the Bond Finance Division of the Michigan Department of Treasury; and as a school services representative for the Higher Education Student Financial Services Division of the Michigan Department of Treasury. Guzman's industry focus is Agriculture and Manufacturing.

Valerie Jemerson - Jemerson has over 10 years of experience in state government and 10 years of experience in education. In addition to the work she does as a Talent Development Liaison, Jemerson is also a member of the Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) Program team where she is responsible for coordinating collaborative activities between the State of Michigan and its extensive partner network. Jemerson's industry focus is Business & Other and Manufacturing.

For more information about the Talent Development Liaisons, visit the Talent Development Liaison website.


About The Talent Investment Agency (TIA)
TIA is the agency that combines Michigan Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Development, and is responsible for their activities. Businesses need a talented workforce. Workers need the right skills to compete for available jobs. TIA programs are focused on job preparedness, career-based education, worker training, employment assistance and unemployment insurance.