Analyst To Holland: Get 'Sticky'

January 23, 2006
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HOLLAND — Attracting the “best and the brightest” — and keeping them — is the goal for the year that George Erickcek shared at the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce’s January Early Bird Breakfast.

Erickcek, senior regional analyst with the W.E. Upjohn Institute, presented an economic forecast for 2006 and 2007 as well as a look back at 2004 and 2005. While unemployment is an issue and there is emphasis on growing service sector jobs, Erickcek said the main thought for this year is to improve the community’s “stickiness” by finding ways to get people to live and work in Holland and Ottawa County — and make sure they do not move away.

“We have to become ‘sticky’ in a global economy,” he said.

With a loss of 1,800 jobs in Ottawa County during the past year, Erickcek said job growth should be focused on professional jobs and knowledge-based workers rather than manufacturing. While manufacturing is still a large part of the economy, the number of manufacturing jobs is decreasing, he said.

Erickcek said the industry is still going strong, despite the number of manufacturing jobs being less than there were in the 1950s, with significant productivity gains.

“We’re producing more today in manufacturing than ever before,” he said.

Two other suggestions Erickcek presented for the upcoming year were retaining the manufacturing base in the area and acknowledging the many corporate headquarters that are located in Holland. Companies such as Gentex, Haworth, Herman Miller and Tiara Yachts have made the area their home, which is an important aspect of keeping the economy viable, he said.

Erickcek told the community to “do everything you can” to keep those headquarters in the area.    

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