Rios to Lead WIRED

November 10, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — After helping to build the West Michigan Creative Arts and Technology center into a place where students can prepare for the workplace, Phillip Rios is moving on to help the entire region adjust to the changing economy.

The former development director of the West Michigan Creative Arts and TechnologyCenter has been tapped as the new project manager of the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development grant, a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“We want to fulfill its mission to transform the workforce development and economic sector in the seven-county region that makes up the WIRED project,” Rios said.

Greg Northrup, president of the West Michigan Strategic Alliance, said Rios is a good addition to the WIRED project because of his experience with the arts and technology center as well as his involvement with the private business sector at Steelcase Inc.

Rios, who started on Nov. 1, said he has been learning more about the project, but is familiar with WIRED from being a member of the policy committee before transitioning to project manager.

“Right now I’m just trying to get orientated,” he said. “I’m just thankful to the organization for allowing me to be part of it.”

In his role as project manager, Rios acts as a liaison between the innovation champions leading each section of the project and overseeing the different sections, connecting the programs and making adjustments as necessary, Northrup said.

“We’re just happy to have him and we’re happy that the transition is going smoothly,” he said.

Karen Wolf, who started as project manager in July, will remain active as advisor.

Rios has had experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors, working for Steelcase for 20 years in various roles such as manager of ecommerce product and solutions, manager of supplier diversity and business development, and project leader. He also has been active in the community as a board member of the Community Circle Theater and helping to found the local chapter of the Project Management Institute as well as being honored as the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce 2000 Minority Business Advocate of the Year.    

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