Nestled in the upper left corner of the banner of michigansmartcoast.com is a simple call to action — “Discover Your Place.”
The new website by Michigan Smart Coast, a brand managed by Zeeland-based economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage, is designed to encourage visitors their place is right here in West Michigan. Launched on Aug. 19 after more than a year of testing, development and research, the website is expected to be a useful tool in providing relevant information to attract young talent to the region.
“We really needed a way to tell our community’s story,” said Angela Huesman, Lakeshore Advantage vice president of talent and innovation solutions. “We were looking for a way to make our community shine, geared toward young professionals or early-stage professionals that could benefit from some of the details within the website.”
The website includes information about cost of living, community descriptions, local products, events in the area, temporary housing options and career opportunities. Through months of research, Huesman said Lakeshore Advantage found these were the aspects deemed most important to young professionals looking for a change of scenery.
Lakeshore Advantage held five separate focus groups during this early research phase and found connection to the region via recreation, group events and volunteer opportunities ranked highly. Additionally, there is a section of the site dedicated to major projects in the area, which could be useful for newcomers who may have moved to the region but aren’t necessarily satisfied with their career.
“It’s a little subtle, but that’s what it’s designed for,” Huesman said. “To show what else is available, should you choose to make West Michigan your home.”
Lakeshore Advantage worked in conjunction with a number of area community groups to perfect the design and offerings of the site, including local chambers and recruiters, key community stakeholders and Hello West Michigan.
Designed and developed by Holland-based The Image Group, the website features visuals and video aspects intended to feature the various activities and amenities West Michigan has to offer.
“It’s really visual, and that’s by design,” Huesman said. “We want our employers to focus on recruiting to their company and selling their culture to the candidate, and they can use this tool to sell the community.”
While there isn’t a defined quantifiable goal in place for the first few weeks of the website, Huesman said she’ll consider the site launch a success when she starts to receive positive feedback from employers and employees alike.
“Ultimately, we want to hear a story from someone who said they saw this website and that made them feel good about accepting a position and making the move here,” she said. “We see it as a tool for our employers, but it’ll be a success when we’re attracting the people they need and getting the talent here.”