Economic Development, Human Resources, and Nonprofits

ReThink West Michigan targets ex-residents

November 24, 2014
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ReThink West Michigan targets ex-residents
Members of the Hello West Michigan team pose with Tony the Tiger at Kellogg’s Grand Rapids location. Photo via

On Thanksgiving eve, professionals who used to live in the region will connect with recruiters ready to fill jobs.

Hello West Michigan and The Right Place are co-hosting a casual, professional networking event known as ReThink West Michigan in downtown Grand Rapids on Nov. 26, from 5:30-8:00 p.m., at The B.O.B.

“Great opportunity”

The free event is designed to attract former residents back into the embrace of the Mitten State.

The event is expected to draw about 100 people.

As of now, 14 organizations will be represented at the event: Steelcase, Amway, Northwestern Mutual, Spectrum Health, Ranir, Mercy Health, Crow Horwath, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Open Systems Technology, Randstad Technologies, viastore systems and more.

Since 2012, the annual event has resulted in at least 20 hires, said Rachel Bartels, program manager, Hello West Michigan.

Bartels said the event will feature a short program with a professional who was hired by Amway after last year’s event and who will speak about the region, but the majority of the event is networking.

“This really allows people to kind of have an in-depth conversation with recruiters,” Bartels said. “A lot of our recruiters we have followed up with who have attended in the past said it is a great opportunity. We really want the candidates to focus on the recruiters. This is something that is much different than a resume in a database.

Familiar faces

Bartels added that region’s companies are growing, and Hello West Michigan “would love to see former West Michigan residents come home and take those jobs.”

She said that when companies from the region relocate someone "from outside the area — the retention works better if people are from the region originally.”

Locally based recruitment

The talent-attraction event was developed after the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s program known as MichAgain, which was hosted across the state and in other states to encourage people with ties to Michigan to return to or invest in the state.

One of the challenges with the program was the difficulty for local employers to participate in the events taking place outside of Michigan.

“We took the program and adapted it,” Bartels said.

Grand Rapids-based Hello West Michigan, an employer-driven nonprofit focused on attracting and retaining “the nation’s top talent,” has worked “really closely together” with The Right Place in Grand Rapids, a regional economic development nonprofit, to develop and produce the event, according to Bartels.

“We do similar things, but we are focused on our niches,” Bartels said. “Here are the employers, and here are the resources that we offer. It makes for a very unique event."


Attendees are encouraged to register for the event.

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