Private investment in Flint and Genesee County has been on the upswing over the past five years, supporting new developments, business expansions and revitalized communities. We have the strategies and partnerships in place to continue the momentum, but we can’t talk about business investment without also talking about investment in people, or talent.
Developing a talented workforce is essential for attracting new businesses to this region and supporting the growth and expansion of existing businesses. Recognizing this, the Chamber has a strategic focus on talent attraction, retention and development. For the purpose of this column, I want to talk about talent development.
We collaborate with our education and business partners to strengthen the talent pipeline by offering a menu of programs and services to Flint & Genesee residents that help to prepare the next generation of workers for jobs of today and tomorrow. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ve read about some of our programs including YouthQuest, a high quality, engaging and enriching afterschool program; TeenQuest/Summer Youth Initiative, which provides preemployment and soft skill training, as well as paid summer work experiences. Flint Promise, a “last dollar” scholarship makes a college degree a reality for students who live in the city of Flint and graduate from a Flint high school. There’s also Career Edge, which offers pre-employment training to any resident over the age of 18, and has been designed primarily for adults looking to enter or re-enter the workforce.
In addition, we want to know more about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed programs, the Michigan Opportunity Scholarship and Michigan Reconnect, which also look to help strengthen our workforce and make college accessible at community colleges for in-demand jobs throughout Michigan.
Competition for talent is growing – not just here in Genesee County, but across Michigan and the U.S. In addition to the programs mentioned above, the Chamber also offers business trainings that help give employers and their employees an edge in today’s highly competitive market. We partner with business training professionals to provide relevant and timely workshops and seminars that help to increase participants’ knowledge and skills.
We know that employers are also looking to strengthen and/or develop new leadership within their organizations. The transformational Leadership NOW program is one of the ways the Chamber is helping to meet employers’ needs. Leadership NOW is a comprehensive, leadership development program for emerging and existing leaders as well as motivated people who want to uplift their communities.
Investing in people through talent development initiatives not only strengthens individual businesses but the entire business community. Long-term it will help us address some of our issues related to the skills gap, make our region more attractive to new businesses and provide residents with opportunities to grow their skills and pursue the jobs and careers of their choice.
Everyone wins when we invest in people!
Tim Herman is the CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.