A business community of inclusion requires ‘doers’


Grand Rapids Business Journal’s reporting on the shortage of workers has been persistent, especially this year, and crosses many industry sectors including IT, computer programming and data management, varied construction skill areas and retailers, particularly in the food industry.

For almost 10 years, the Business Journal has focused on the projections of this economic disabler and notes it is not likely to be any less an issue in the coming years. The shortage of workers is the largest threat to the continued growth of the local economy.

This region’s community of business owners must make inclusion a mission statement to survive.

The issues of inclusion have been given very broad discussion in the Grand Rapids area, and inclusion is the subject of specific initiatives among dozens of nonprofit agencies.

The problem isn’t the attention it’s given; the problem is the number of actual “doers.”

The Business Journal is pleased to note the efforts of local businesses that are fully engaged in welfare-to-career programs and re-entry jobs for those leaving the prison system. Butterball Farms and Cascade Engineering have almost 20 years of experience in those programs and freely offer guidelines to businesses new to such employment opportunities.

Both companies note the high retention rates of these individuals, and Butterball representatives added the “returning citizens” are more dedicated employees, apt to do more and take advantage of educational opportunities, and likely to get promoted as much if not more than their counterparts.

Area companies also are reporting high success rates with internship programs.

One manufacturing company, Primera Plastics, is working with high-school dropouts to train them and also provide opportunities to advance their education while working.

The Right Place Inc. is currently completing its 2014-16 strategic plan, counting success and proactively looking at challenges over the next few years. The agency has identified worker shortages as one of those challenges.

Its new association as host to Hello West Michigan is a part of those initiatives. Hello West Michigan’s mission is to recruit former Michigan residents to move back to the state. It also assists in resettling the recruits’ “trailing spouses,” which is often an issue. It is another resource for business owners.

A host of local companies have been recognized in best practices for internship programs and employee involvement and were recently highlighted by 101 Best Companies to Work For, sponsored by the Michigan Business and Professional Association.

It is crucial business owners recognize the gaps in employment and become “doers.”

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