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Workforce & Wages

Keeping a team’s skills ahead of the pace of the global marketplace is tough. Our mission is to keep your workforce at the front of the pack. Whether it’s starting with a gap analysis or developing a tailored training course, we are eager to help you address workforce needs.

Within a 60-minute commute time, you’ll find a top-of-the-line workforce that is not only ready, willing and able, but passionate about what they do.

Website_Regional Map_Updated Feb 2016_Concentric Circles

Career Academies and Certificate Programs

Distinctive offerings at the region’s community colleges offer workers a leg up in their industry from automotive to welding to wind turbine technicians.  Intense and extensive industry-level hands-on training prepares workers to excel in their chosen fields such as mechatronics.  Check each school for availability or contact us to discuss developing specific training.

Michigan Works!

Michigan Works! connects people who need jobs with companies who need to fill jobs throughout the state. Funded by state and federal governments through the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth, Michigan Works! is a free service to both employers and job seekers. Services include screening and hiring services, on-the-job training funds, Worker Opportunity Tax Credits and ongoing training strategies. Connect with our regional Michigan Works! office via the links below.

Continuous Improvement Users Group

The Continuous Improvement Users Group is a collaboration of Southwest Michigan companies dedicated to sharing best practices and seeking ideas to improve efficiency and productivity.  Continuous Improvement, Total Production Management, Six Sigma and other lean practitioners network on a monthly basis either through tours of best practice or topical discussions. To apply for participation in this group of industry experts, please contact Southwest Michigan First.

Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium

The Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium was launched in 2011 as a collaboration between Southwest Michigan First, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Glen Oaks Community College, Michigan Works!, the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency and 26 area manufacturers. The purpose of the consortium is to address the challenges companies are experiencing in finding qualified candidates to fill existing job openings, and to develop a long-term strategy to address future needs. Oftentimes, the consortium creates synergetic partnerships between business and education to execute hands-on programs highlighting employment opportunities in manufacturing, much like MiCareerQuest Southwest held in February 2016. The consortium has developed a three-pronged strategy which includes Training, Screening and Recruitment/Marketing to ready our region’s workforce for your needs.

Education for Employment

Education for Employment programs offer award-winning career and technical education centers through the regional educational service agencies to 10th-12th grade students. Programs reflect “real world” applications and maintain the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum as well as state, national, and industry technical standards and requirements.

Regional Intermediate School Districts

In Michigan, and Intermediate School District (ISD) is a governmental agency organized at the county or multi-county level that partners and assists a local school district in providing programs and services. The following ISDs are key partners in workforce development in Southwest Michigan Region:

Western Michigan University

Among the largest public universities in the United States with almost 19,000 undergraduate students, Western Michigan University is ranked among U.S. News and World Report’s top national universities and one of only four public universities in the state to be named in the top tier.

The Groves

The Kalamazoo Valley Groves Center specializes in a variety of training programs for those looking to embark on a fresh career path. The Groves provides guidance and resources to students and employers looking to fill high demand jobs in a short period of time. Current programs include fast, high-intensity training for: CNC machining, cell tower technology, mechatronics and wind turbine technology.

Regional Manufacturing Training Center

The Regional Manufacturing Technology Center (RMTC) is an innovative, community-driven training facility in the Fort Custer Industrial Park in Battle Creek (Calhoun County). The facility is home to Kellogg Community College’s Industrial Trades and Workforce Solutions. Together, these departments design training programs using blended learning techniques.

Training programs are designed to meet the employee training needs of area business and industry. The innovative approach to training enables the RMTC to respond to training needs quickly and efficiently. Training is available to individuals on a walk-in basis or can be scheduled to meet production and service schedules and may be provided either at the worksite, at the RMTC or at any location in the community.


Wage Study

Southwest Michigan First, along with other regional economic development organizations, partnered with HRM Innovations to work with employers across the seven counties of Southwest Michigan to gather pay data for a compensation survey. Organizations committed to this effort included Albion Economic Development Corporation, Battle Creek Unlimited, Branch County Economic Growth Alliance, Cornerstone Alliance, Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, Southwestern Michigan Growth Alliance and Southwest Michigan First.

The target industries for this survey included automotive manufacturing, non-automotive manufacturing and several other industries in the region. About 256 companies were contacted to participate and data was compiled as of August 2016. Survey results are available below.

Southwest Michigan First

map-icon241 East Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
269.553.9588

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Reflect on the people who made a difference in your life as a kid. Now, realize that you can do the same for your few.
- Joseph Sojourner


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