West Michigan TEAM Advances Workforce Development
New nonprofit works with business and government to create employment partnerships throughout the region
GRAND RAPIDS—West Michigan TEAM is opening its doors as a nonprofit built on the success of a workforce development program launched in 2006. This resource brings together private, public and nonprofit organizations to strengthen local economies throughout the region. Its focus is on helping lower-wage workers succeed on the job and advance in the labor market, helping businesses find and retain qualified employees, and helping government reduce costs related to unemployment while enhancing the impact of existing workforce development programs.
West Michigan TEAM uses a unique, proven Tri-sector Employment and Advancement Model (TEAM) to help communities create vibrant local networks that benefit employees and employers.
“We work to create dramatic and positive change for communities and businesses in West Michigan,” says West Michigan TEAM vice president Ashleigh Emmerson. “Our approach represents system changes that make a lasting and positive difference for employees and businesses”.
West Michigan TEAM receives major funding by Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), which is a key effort of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance (WMSA) created to support the people, ideas and training necessary to attract and retain innovative employers and skilled jobs in the region.
West Michigan TEAM is active in a number of West Michigan counties (including Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, and Calhoun). Through West Michigan TEAM, groups of employers join together in consortiums. A network of these consortiums is formed and supported by a TEAM executive director. Ottawa and Muskegon Counties are the most recent networks being established in West Michigan.
Work on the Ottawa County project is made possible in part by grants from the Marion A. and Ruth K. Sherwood Foundation and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, and The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.
Locally, employers partner with public and nonprofit agencies to tailor specific site programs to provide information, education and training designed to increase employee knowledge, efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace environment. At the regional level, programs are developed to address issues relating to scaling and market development, metrics and evaluation, and best practices.
“In 2006, businesses participating in one consortium trained 617 workers and maintained a 87% average yearly job retention rate,” says West Michigan TEAM board chair Mark Peters, president of Butterball Farms Inc. “That saved the public sector $1 million and benefited these businesses by more than $ 90,000. That’s a 239% return-on-investment to the employers.”
West Michigan TEAM began in partnership with The Delta Strategy in 2006 through a Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, and is incorporating as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Michigan. Its request for 501(c)(3) status was filed in August 2007 and is pending.
The Tri-Sector Employment & Advancement Model draws on concepts pioneered by Grand Rapids-based Cascade Engineering in 2000 and advanced by a consortium of employers through The SOURCE (a West Michigan TEAM partner) in 2003. The model incorporates a social science framework for understanding poverty and welfare to career advancement