Human Resources and Marketing, PR & Advertising

New campaign targets out-of-state talent

First step is to bring West Michigan’s message to the Windy City.

September 27, 2013
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Hello West Michigan, a regional talent attraction and retention initiative, launched a campaign earlier this month promoting West Michigan to the Chicago market.

The campaign, “Find Your Reason,” promotes West Michigan as a great place to live and work. It is the first member-driven campaign launched by the organization, which formed in 2008.

The first billboards along I-94 went up in time for Labor Day weekend to target motorists traveling between Chicago and Michigan. Digital and print ads are on display primarily inside Chicago CTA trains and buses and on platforms.

In addition, Hello West Michigan has created a website,, where people can share and browse reasons for living in West Michigan, and discover more about the region.

“Everyone has a reason for choosing to live in West Michigan,” said Cindy Brown, executive director of Hello West Michigan. “Whether it is the quality of life, affordable cost of living, abundant career opportunities or access to a great lifestyle — from a thriving arts scene to miles of beautiful beaches. We want to showcase those reasons and encourage people to consider West Michigan as a smart choice for them.”

The campaign is attracting attention, and several people have shared their reasons for making Grand Rapids home on the website.

“By visiting, people from outside of the area can find reasons from real people in West Michigan,” Brown said. “These aren't reasons made up in an ad agency; they are written by people like you and me. That really gives people outside of the area a real sense of the true nature of the community.”

Reasons listed on the website include: proximity to lakes, mountain bike trails, forests, and fishing and boating opportunities; opportunities to make an impact on the world; friendly people; music and cultural festivals; craft breweries; minimal traffic; and the affordability that allows residents to enjoy life.

“We are seeing results,” Brown added. “The number of candidates we are talking to one-on-one is increasing. We used to send out one résumé pack to our members. Now we've had to increase it to two per week. The number of people we are talking to on LinkedIn is increasing. The number of jobs we have posted on our site is right around 1,000. West Michigan has the jobs, and people who are interested in them are connecting with us.”

Brown said the initial pilot campaign cost between $20,000-$50,000.

“We will continue to monitor the ROI vs. the investment and tweak the campaign where necessary,” she said. “We have already adapted our online plan based on initial results.”

The campaign will wrap up with the organization’s annual Hello West MichAGAIN event Nov. 27, co-hosted by The Right Place Inc., which invites people returning to Michigan for the Thanksgiving holidays to network with area employers, discover more about living here, and learn about the resources Hello West Michigan offers.

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