Greater Lansing is Back in The Driver’s Seat

Manufacturing is back in business. The greater Lansing region continues to see a resurgence of the industry that literally drives the economy within the local and global marketplace. In recent years that wasn’t always the case. Between 1998 and 2010, Michigan lost 45 percent of its manufacturing jobs. Several communities across the state, including Lansing, were affected by the ever-changing industry — a region that relied heavily on automotive manufacturing.

While the auto industry continued to transform, greater Lansing had to diversify its economy to grow. The region’s transformation was no accident. It was strategically planned by thoughtful businesses, entrepreneurs, the community and elected officials, who work closely together to energize the local economy and set a course for the future.

Today, we’ve seen the results of their hard work first-hand — a more advanced and diverse economy that includes health care, information technology, bio-tech and science. With the construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University, the region is on the ground floor of a new frontier focused on cutting edge technology and science that will benefit the entire world.

Historically, our region’s expertise in manufacturing has served as the foundation of our economy. As we develop our place in the 21st century knowledge economy, the role of advanced manufacturing cannot be overstated. General Motors continues to be our titan anchor — investing billions into the Grand River and Delta Assembly plants — two of the most state-of-the-art plants in North America. GM’s investment has spurred continued growth for a number of auto suppliers and manufacturers across the region.

All the pieces are in place for greater Lansing to continue to thrive and further set ourselves apart from other regions. However, the piece of the puzzle that makes it all run is the people. While the manufacturing sector has adapted to change in the new era, the way people are trained for these high demand jobs has not.

The challenge is not whether an individual can find a job or not, but rather if he or she is prepared to fill that job. According to Pure Michigan Talent Connect, an online marketplace resource that connects job seekers and employers, there are 100,000 jobs available in Michigan. The jobs that are in high demand are those that require skilled trades and technical workers.

There’s good news. There has been a major shift and focus on preparing individuals for jobs in skilled trades. For individuals within the workforce seeking additional professional development opportunities in skilled trades, Pure Michigan Talent Connect is an excellent resource. Through Talent Connect, a new program called ‘Going Pro with Skilled Trades’ provides opportunities for high school and community college students to pursue a skilled trades career. Locally, Capital Area Michigan Works! has been an outstanding resource for connecting job seekers with area employers, as well as providing individuals with educational opportunities to grow.

Educational institutions are also stepping up to ensure students are college and career ready in the 21st century economy. For example, the Lansing Public Schools bond, approved by voters, Pathway Promise, provides a three-lane approach for students to best align their educational and career interests. The three pathways offer students opportunities in visual and performing arts, new tech, international baccalaureate, science, technology, mathematics, engineering, skilled trades, manufacturing and language immersion.

The times are definitely changing. As a region, we must adapt and adjust in order to grow and thrive. Fortunately, it is our grit and work ethic, our long-established entrepreneurial spirit and our willingness to work together that are positioning the greater Lansing region for success in the years ahead.

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