Thousands of workers rush to ‘make it in Michigan’ as clean energy jobs multiply

By Kyle Kaminski

April 16, 2024

The Biden administration is investing billions of dollars in clean energy and creating thousands of new jobs. And in Michigan, workers are starting to fill them.

MICHIGAN—A massive marketing campaign designed to fill manufacturing jobs in Michigan is starting to pay dividends for employers—and the state’s economy—as thousands of workers prepare to take on new clean energy careers, including in electric vehicle battery manufacturing.

Officials at Shape Corporation, an automotive parts company in Grand Haven, announced last month that they’ve hired or retrained more than 1,300 workers since mid-2023 as federal investments from President Joe Biden’s administration boost auto manufacturing statewide.

And company officials (and Michigan lawmakers) are crediting the state’s latest $20 million marketing campaign for helping them spread the word about job opportunities, fill vacancies, and ensure more workers are prepared for the wave of new jobs that’s en route to Michigan.

“Michigan put the world on wheels, and it’s Michigan that will keep us moving forward into a new frontier of automotive innovation,” US Rep. Hillary Scholten said last month during a press conference with Shape CEO Mark White. “West Michigan, in particular, is showing us how it’s done with two key components—strong business-led, private-public partnerships and people.”

Here’s the deal:

Last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) unveiled an ambitious marketing campaign designed to fill jobs, grow the state’s population, and “drive the state’s economic future forward.” It was dubbed “You Can in Michigan,” and state officials billed it as the single largest state-level “talent attraction” campaign in the United States.

“Our new, national campaign will attract talent and grow our population and economy by sharing our story and showing the nation what we have to offer,” Whitmer said in a statement last year. “We have made huge strides to make Michigan a better place to live, work, and invest, and now, we have to go on offense. Let’s go from just believing in Michigan to bragging about Michigan.”

The $20 million advertising campaign spans across TV, radio, print, and social media, and encourages job seekers in several adjacent states to consider exploring new careers in Michigan—including by featuring a few specific communities like Grand Rapids and Detroit.

It also came along with a new website (themichiganlife.org), where job seekers can learn about Michigan, calculate their cost of living, and find new jobs on the state’s Career Portal—and by working directly with the MEDC’s Talent Action Team, which partners with major employers, education systems, and universities to help attract and train workers for new, high-tech jobs.

The stated idea: Market Michigan through the lens of its growing career opportunities, high quality of life, and affordability to “intrigue and inspire job seekers and entrepreneurs to consider Michigan as the ultimate destination to work, start, or grow a business and play and thrive.”

Is it working?

Apparently.

Since the “You Can in Michigan” campaign first rolled out last year, the ads have reportedly been viewed more than 130 million times and resulted in more than 3,400 interested job seekers—many of which have since landed at Shape in Grand Haven, which designs automotive parts and tests components that are used in electric vehicle manufacturing.

Company officials said they’ve hired at least 300 new employees, as well as retrained more than 700 of their existing employees in new advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies.

Last month, Scholten joined leaders with the MEDC and West Michigan Works! to announce that the state has already surpassed its original, one-year campaign goal of recruiting and “upskilling” at least 1,000 workers to pursue new production roles in tech-forward industries.

“The (program) is not just important to Shape, but the entire state,” White said last month. “By investing in training and recruiting talent specifically for the electric vehicle sector, we are securing Michigan’s position as a hub for innovation and manufacturing excellence.”

Working in tandem with other big-name companies like Ford, Gotion, DENSO, and Magna, officials at MEDC also said they’re also actively working to fill more than 1,500 unique job openings in advanced manufacturing (like EV battery manufacturing) across Michigan.

“Michigan’s legendary manufacturing heritage and bold investments in workforce and economic development have put our state in a strong position to build the future of cars, chips and clean energy,” state Sen. Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville) said during last month’s press conference.

READ MORE: Federal funds to bring 500+ new Michigan jobs to hydrogen ‘gigafactory’

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

CATEGORIES: MONEY AND JOBS

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This