• Inner Top Key Industries

Workforce & Wages

Unlock your company’s potential.

Keeping a team’s skills ahead of the pace of the global marketplace is tough. Our mission is to keep your workforce at the front of the pack. Whether it’s starting with a gap analysis or developing a tailored training course, we are eager to help you address workforce needs.

Within a 60-minute commute time, you’ll find a top-of-the-line workforce that is not only ready, willing and able, but passionate about what they do.

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Career Academies and Certificate Programs

Distinctive offerings at the region’s community colleges offer workers a leg up in their industry from automotive to welding to wind turbine technicians.  Intense and extensive industry-level hands-on training prepares workers to excel in their chosen fields.  Check each school for availability or contact us to discuss developing specific training.

Michigan Works!

Michigan Works! connects people who need jobs with companies who need to fill jobs throughout the state. Funded by state and federal governments through the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), Michigan Works! is a free service to both employers and job seekers. Services include screening and hiring services, on-the-job training funds, Worker Opportunity Tax Credits and ongoing training strategies. Connect with our regional Michigan Works! office via the links below.

Continuous Improvement Users Group

The Continuous Improvement Users Group is a collaboration of Southwest Michigan companies dedicated to sharing best practices and seeking ideas to improve efficiency and productivity.  Continuous Improvement, Total Production Management, Six Sigma and other lean practitioners network regularly through tours of best practice or topical discussions. To apply for participation in this group of industry experts, please contact Cathy Knapp.

Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium

The Advanced Manufacturing Career Consortium was launched in 2011 as a collaboration between Southwest Michigan First, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Glen Oaks Community College, Michigan Works!, the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency and area manufacturers. The purpose of the consortium is to address the challenges companies are experiencing in finding qualified candidates to fill existing job openings, and to develop a long-term strategy to address future needs. The consortium has developed a three-pronged strategy which includes Training, Screening and Recruitment/Marketing to ready our region’s workforce for your needs.

Education for Employment

Education for Employment programs offer award-winning career and technical education centers through the regional educational service agencies to 10th-12th grade students. Programs reflect “real world” applications and maintain the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum as well as state, national, and industry technical standards and requirements.

MIX Southwest Michigan

The MIX creative community regularly brings together individuals across all creative disciplines to learn from great content, inspiration and interaction with local and national designers. 

Regional Intermediate School Districts

In Michigan, and Intermediate School District (ISD) is a governmental agency organized at the county or multi-county level that partners and assists a local school district in providing programs and services. The following ISDs are key partners in workforce development in Southwest Michigan Region:

Western Michigan University

Among the largest public universities in the United States, Western Michigan University is ranked among U.S. News and World Report’s top national universities and one of only four public universities in the state to be named in the top tier.


Wage Study

Southwest Michigan First, along with other regional economic development organizations, partnered with HRM Innovations to work with employers across the seven counties of Southwest Michigan to gather pay data for a compensation survey. Organizations committed to this effort included Albion Economic Development Corporation, Battle Creek Unlimited, Branch County Economic Growth Alliance, Cornerstone Alliance, Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, Southwestern Michigan Growth Alliance and Southwest Michigan First.

The target industries for this survey included automotive manufacturing, non-automotive manufacturing and several other industries in the region. About 256 companies were contacted to participate and data was compiled as of August 2016. Survey results are available below.