Local businesses and nonprofit organizations are coming together to convince former West Michiganders that it's time to take another look at their hometown.
On November 23, 2016, the fifth annual ReThink West Michigan event will provide a casual, professional environment for former West Michigan residents to network and discover many of the great career possibilities and growing companies in the region.
"Out-migration is pretty typical for people who grow up in West Michigan," said Cindy Brown, executive director, ReThink West Michigan. "Many times they go to school out of state or, after graduation from a Michigan college, they move away because they want to experience somewhere else, like a big city."
Former West Michigan residents typically move back to town to buy a home or start a family in a West Michigan boomerang effect. During the recession, however, former Michiganders weren't moving back—and that created a talent shortage.
"For our economy to keep up with the demand as forecasted by the Upjohn Institute, 33 percent of our workforce needs to be made up of people coming from outside the area," Brown said. "If companies can't fill their open positions, they can't grow."
The last four annual ReThink West Michigan events attracted more than 460 professionals and resulted in over 35 hires. This year, at least 16 companies are looking to share exciting initiatives and projects happening in the area.
"People who moved away don't know about all of the exciting things happening here now," Brown said. "That's on top of the foundation we've always had as a great place to raise a family and a low cost of living."
The event, held at The B.O.B. from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. is free, but registration is required. If you're back in town for Thanksgiving—or know someone who is—learn more about the event or register online at www.rethinkwm.com.