We Are Driven by Purpose


You will find the Southwest Michigan First team walking a local manufacturer’s plant floor, cutting the ribbon in celebration of a new small business opening its doors and strategizing with local community leaders on transformational projects. Our team comes together every day to work hard for one reason: The greatest force for change is a job.

That’s our purpose. Our mission. It is our passion to help build a diverse, inclusive and equitable economy for all in Southwest Michigan. With a job, an individual can provide themselves and loved ones with the essentials necessary for life such as food, clothing, health care, shelter and education. A job is the beginning of a cycle of self-determination. Jobs and employment can point someone’s life trajectory toward the positive and ensure the vibrancy of our region.

As a team, we champion our core values and the high standards to which we are held so that we can make positive change happen in the communities we serve.

  • We are different by design. We are willing to forge new paths.
  • We curate the future. We do not allow the status quo to determine outcomes. We build processes to achieve long-term success.
  • We believe diversity, equity and inclusion lead to our destiny. We are assured that diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and communities create greater vibrancy and engagement.
  • We stay curious. We are hungry for knowledge and ways to be better.
  • We challenge and change our best every day. We must always be on the lookout to revaluate and reinvent ourselves and our practices for the better.
  • We believe in transparent relationships. We strive for honest and authentic relationships in all we do.
  • We serve as guides, coaches and consultants. We endeavor to give value and share what we know.
  • We are the CEOs of our own responsibilities. We empower and trust our team members to manage individual responsibilities and resources.
  • We live as examples. We are responsible to live our lives as examples of love and respect for those with whom we work.
  • We are servers, not guests. We humbly serve our partners, clients and customers with the goal of delivering excellence in all that we do.
  • We value others. We show care to each other, our families and those we serve.