When it comes to talent, one size does not fit all.

Southwest Michigan First is all about people and business and connecting the two. Now more than ever, people matter. And when the right people are in the right roles, everyone wins — individuals have meaningful work and companies flourish. That’s why Southwest Michigan First is heavily invested in not only attracting top talent to the area (and keeping them here), but also building a diverse and inclusive pipeline of skilled workers for the future.

Our network of connections is broad and deep. Here are just a few of the resources our team can connect you with:


  • Nationally ranked Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College to establish internship and apprenticeship programs, take advantage of career academies, certificate programs, and specialized training that amplifies the voice of business
  • Career and Technical Education that merges strong academic preparation with real world application to cultivate a demand-driven pipeline of talent
  • K-12 regional programming that meets state, national, and industry technical standards and requirements with an eye toward the future
  • The Kalamazoo Promise, an unprecedented program that guarantees full college scholarships to potentially every Kalamazoo Public School graduate
  • MiCareerQuest Southwest, a fun and unique career exploration event that offers hands-on activities to get middle schoolers excited about in-demand careers

Specialty Disciplines:

  • Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium, a group of companies that meet regularly to address the challenges of finding qualified candidates while developing a long-term strategy to address future needs
  • MIX Design Southwest Michigan, a highly engaged community of creatives from all disciplines to interact with local and national designers and inspire one another

Workforce Development:

  • Michigan Works! Southwest, a free service to both employers and job seekers that offers screening and hiring services, on-the-job training funds, Worker Opportunity Tax Credits, and ongoing training strategies
  • Leading staffing agencies to fill existing positions and build a steady stream of skilled workers
  • Supported employment to open diverse recruiting resources and talent pools for your company
  • Continuous User Improvement Group, a collaboration of companies in Southwest Michigan that meet regularly to share best practices and seek ways to improve efficiency and productivity


We know that finding the best people is critical to helping you achieve your business goals. Contact Petey Stephanak at 269.553.9588 and get connected today.