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1.24.19 – SPOKES Notes & Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Shannon Kolarik

Eunice Lopez-Martin was introduced as a new Rotarian. She is a former Interact member and joined Rotary to give back to the community.

Jackie Taylor introduced our guest speaker today. Coming from Lakeshore Advantage, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Michigan with a background in economic development, Jennifer Owens gave us an update on the Lakeshore region.

With an overview of what is happening on the Lakeshore, Jennifer started with explaining economic development. The goal being to maintain a robust business base at all times, bringing goods and services into our region. Ottawa and Allegan are two of the fastest growing counties in Michigan with Ottawa County having the lowest unemployment rate in Michigan. The Lakeshore markets their strengths including being a part of the Grand Rapids region, having a good quality of life including the beautiful lakes and downtown area, the Holland Energy Park giving the area a competitive advantage in Electric rates, and having a diverse manufacturing base. Some of the largest manufacturers being Gentex, Herman Miller, Perrigo, Haworth, Tyson Foods, and JR Automation.

Owens and her team are not only looking at what the current generation wants now, but developing the community of the future so that younger generations want to start their carrier in west Michigan.

Zeeland Interchange enables expansions with a $7.65 million dollar grant combined with a $135 million private investment from 3 major local companies that changes the flow of traffic through that area. Her team predicts that this will bring 250+ jobs to the lakeshore.

Zeeland XPO for Career Readiness is a program in partnership with Zeeland Schools to turn “Senior Skip Day” into a career expo with 19 companies and 200+ Seniors were involved. In May, this program will expand to 8 different districts.

Lakeshore Advantage partnered with The Right Place to identify out-of-state peers that we compete with for job placement. Indianapolis, Indiana and Spartanburg, South Carolina were two of the locations visited in 2018 to see what they are doing differently to keep their younger population from leaving for jobs out of their region.

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