Is Your Firm A Cool Company

March 11, 2005
Print
Text Size:
A A

GRAND RAPIDS — Many West Michigan employers have come to realize the region is cool.

Downtown Grand Rapids is home to two Cool Cities projects, with Kalamazoo and Saugatuck both boasting their own.

Using a vibrant central city, small neighborhoods, low cost of living, entertainment venues, outdoor activities, revitalized downtowns and the lakeshore as a magnet, West Michigan continues to attract young people to high tech and traditional jobs as well as to a growing number of entrepreneurial opportunities.

Over 44 percent of the population here is under the age of 30, compared to 41 percent nationally. Among communities with populations over 1 million, the region placed in the top 50 of author Richard Florida's Creative Class rankings.

Now West Michigan has a chance to show the state how cool it really is.

In partnership with the state of Michigan, Crain's Detroit Business and the American Society of Employers, the Grand Rapids Business Journal is sponsoring Cool Places to Work, a competition intended to recognize employers that have created work environments that attract and retain quality workers — especially younger workers.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to highlight outstanding — cool — businesses in West Michigan and to help encourage the Cool Cities culture that (Gov. Jennifer Granholm) is trying to promote," said Grand Rapids Business Journal Publisher John Zwarensteyn.

"The West Michigan area has been known for its cool companies over the years and this is a wonderful opportunity to recognize them."

Zwarensteyn noted there were four West Michigan companies cited in Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz' book "The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America" in 1994 — Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth, and Donnelly Corp.

The competition evolved from Crain's Detroit's biennial Best Places to Work competition.

Crain's Detroit had partnered with the state's Department of Labor and Economic Growth for last year's Hire Michigan's Best, an effort to showcase the creative class issue and the Cool Cities program.

When Granholm's husband, Daniel Granholm Mulhern, gave the keynote speech at the last Best Places to Work awards ceremony, he suggested extending the Cool Cities partnership into that event as well.

This year's competition will include the entire state and will be judged by the American Society of Employers. The Business Journal was tapped to represent companies on the west side of the state.

"We already have great workplaces in Michigan," Mulhern said. "Five companies recently made the list of Fortune's best companies to work. That's terrific, but we know there are many more out there."

Michigan may be shedding jobs now, but a shortage of workers is looming, the demographers tell us," added Crain's Detroit Associate Publisher and Editor Mary Kramer.

"If Michigan wants to be on the radar as a great place to work and build a career, it makes sense to celebrate the companies and organizations that attracted talented people, who in turn make productive employees."

Employees who work for any Michigan business can nominate their company for The Cool Places to Work Competition using the online form at www.grbj.com

"I'd encourage any employee who feels their company is deserving to submit an entry as soon as humanly possible," Zwarensteyn said.

Each nominated company will then be contacted and asked to submit information on its policies and practices. The criteria for being chosen as a Cool Place to Work was developed by benchmarking the latest workplace information and best practices.

Although employees under the age of 35 are the target of the competition, employees of any age may nominate their employer.

Selected local companies will be recognized in an awards presentation this fall and in both the Grand Rapids Business Journal and a special Crain's Detroit Business edition.

Zwarensteyn added that Cool Places to Work will also provide an excellent opportunity for the state's two premier business-to-business publications to strengthen their relationship.

    

Recent Articles by Daniel Schoonmaker

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus