Skip to main content
Labor and Economic Opportunity

Michigan serves up Thanksgiving pitch inviting former Michiganders to come back home for good

In hopes of enticing professionals to move back to the Great Lakes State, 12 cities are hosting special employer networking events around next week’s holiday

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018

Erica Quealy, 517-582-2961

LANSING – On Thanksgiving Eve, the busiest bar night of the year and a popular night for former Michiganders to visit home, cities are rolling out the red carpet in a statewide effort to show talented professionals that now is the perfect time to come home to live and work in Michigan.

The events, detailed at, align with the state’s new Choose Michigan talent attraction and retention campaign targeting STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – graduates and young professionals in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Madison, Wisconsin, and across Michigan.

“We want people to know there’s more than just your grandma’s Thanksgiving pumpkin pie in Michigan these days,” said Jeremy Hendges, interim director at the Talent and Economic Development Department of Michigan (Ted). “We applaud all 12 cities for reaching out to professionals and offering this extra helping of career and lifestyle information over the holiday weekend.” is a unique promotional partnership, spearheaded by several local talent attraction organizations from across the state. Cities from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids and from Saginaw to Houghton in the Upper Peninsula are hosting networking events for professionals who have made the trip home for Thanksgiving and may be considering relocating back to the state.

“We started ReThink West Michigan in Grand Rapids seven years ago,” said Cindy Brown, executive director at Hello West Michigan. “It’s great to see other organizations replicating our event model with their own spin on it – all with the shared goal of attracting talent back to Michigan. This year, we took it a step further to unite under, making it easier for universities and partners to promote all the events around the state. Candidates are going to go wherever is geographically convenient for them, so why not give them all the event information at once?”

The gatherings, which almost all include craft beer and appetizers in casual and popular settings, are a chance for employers to showcase all that they – and Michigan – have to offer. Participating companies are hiring for IT, engineering, finance, human resources, retail, manufacturing, accounting, nursing and more.

Choose Michigan is also aiming to drive awareness by promoting many of the top destinations and attractions young talent might not think or know about throughout the state.

The new Choose Michigan campaign features a one-stop resource for STEAM talent to explore living and working in Michigan. The campaign talks about everything from stats that highlight many trivia-worthy facts and quirks about Michigan to detailed information on the state’s major cities.

Ted is working in conjunction with business and community leaders across the state to provide job seekers with career and lifestyle information specific to their regions.

“It’s exciting to see other organizations and partners from across the state coming together to showcase all that Michigan has to offer,” Hendges said. “Next week’s Back to Michigan gatherings are a shining example of statewide collaboration and commitment to recruiting top talent.”

Here’s a look at the events on tap next week:

Ann Arbor: Some of the city’s fastest-growing tech companies have organized a happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday to connect out-of-towners with Ann Arbor. The free 2018 Ann Arbor Tech Homecoming at Graduate Ann Arbor, 615 E. Huron St., offers drinks and appetizers while attendees explore tech careers in the city.

Traverse City: At its Boomerang Homecoming on Thanksgiving Eve, Traverse City will offer people in tech, engineering, professional services, project management, sales, design and entrepreneurial ventures a chance to mingle with top local tech and professional services companies, angel investors and venture capitalists. The mixer is 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Park Place Hotel, 300 E. State St. in downtown Traverse City.

West Michigan: This is the seventh year for Rethink West Michigan, an event that organizers say has attracted 809 people and 56 companies and resulted in the hiring of more than 65 employees to the area. This year’s event will highlight dozens of area companies and nonprofits from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in six West Michigan cities:


Saginaw: Soon-to-be graduates from Great Lakes Bay Region colleges are invited to Coming Home, a business casual networking mixer on Wednesday to connect with over 20 employers from the area. The event features complimentary appetizers, craft beers and wine from 3 to 5 p.m. at Saginaw Valley State University, 7400 Bay Road in Saginaw.

Houghton/Hancock: The day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 23, the Upper Peninsula’s Houghton/Hancock area wants its sons and daughters to rediscover their roots at Return North 2018. Representatives from fast-growing firms will tout their career opportunities amid drinks and appetizers from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bonfire Steakhouse on the seventh floor of the Magnuson Hotel, 820 Shelden Ave. in Houghton.

Kalamazoo: Southwest Michigan is opening its arms for returning college graduates and young professionals on Wednesday at ZOOmerang in Kalamazoo. Attendees will enjoy local beer and food and have the chance to learn about career opportunities in their hometowns from 6 to 8 p.m. at Shakespeare’s Pub, 241 E. Kalamazoo Ave. in Kalamazoo.

Lansing: The best way to showcase the dynamic urban career and living opportunities in Greater Lansing is by hosting Capital Comeback in one of the coolest spots downtown: the home of the Lansing Lugnuts. The Wednesday networking event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at The View at Cooley Law School Stadium, 505 E. Michigan Ave., and feature an array of employers in the capital region.