Livingston County Partners with Flint MTA to Help Increase the Talent Pipeline
It’s no secret that quality talent is critical to a business’s success. During post-recession recovery, the unemployment rate in Michigan has consistently declined, reaching rates lower than the national average. In fact, 25 percent of Michigan residents live in one of 13 counties with an annual average unemployment rate below four percent (BLS, Census). While these are encouraging measures of economic health and recovery in the state, they also shed light on a potential challenge for employers: finding talent.
This need is felt in Livingston County, where the manufacturing base has grown significantly over the past few years, creating hundreds of open job opportunities. Employers in Livingston are being innovative – working with programs like MI Bright Future to bring awareness to students about career opportunities, and recruiting from around the region to find the right people.
As it turns out, there are opportunities just north of Livingston County. In Flint, access to employment continues to be a challenge, even as the state’s economic woes have subsided. The recent water crisis hampered economic growth and created new obstacles for residents. While the unemployment rate in Flint has come down since the recession, many workers continue to travel outside of Flint for employment and transportation access is limited.
To help bridge the gap, Community Ventures recently partnered with the Flint MTA and Livingston County employers to bus unemployed, low-skilled Flint workers to manufacturers seeking employees in Livingston County. Community Ventures is a statewide program that provides funding to initiatives that target economic development in the state’s most distressed urban areas. The Flint MTA partnership provides new opportunities for workers at some of Livingston County’s top employers while alleviating employers’ talent attraction burden. Our team at SPARK and our partners at the Howell Chamber of Commerce have worked to make the connection on this program and pilot it through employers like Tribar Manufacturing.
Tribar Manufacturing in Howell is one of many companies to participate in this program. “Tribar has been experiencing rapid growth and our partnership with Community Ventures in Flint along with the MTA busing agreement has delivered a win-win situation for all involved,” said Frank Gray, Tribar Manufacturing’s plant manager, “A large percentage of Tribar’s workforce utilizes the transportation opportunity which provides Tribar with some very skilled and dedicated employees. Without the bus program, our continued growth would be very difficult to staff.” Tribar is just one of many companies in Livingston County that has leveraged this partnership to curtail the talent shortage.
After just over a year, the busing program has exceeded expectations with high job placement success. The partnership now serves as a model of how Community Ventures funding can be used to address spatial mismatch in other Michigan Communities.
For more information on Livingston County, visit www.AnnArborUSA.org/Livingston.