Antonia Alexander first heard about Michigan Works!, the state’s primary workforce development association, during a presentation at Inasmuch House, an emergency shelter located in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan. Facing challenges in finding a job, she signed up for a Michigan Works! orientation, in which she spoke with a representative at her local Neighborhood Employment Hub.
Working with a career coach, Antonia shared that her lack of transportation was a significant barrier to employment. As a mother of two, she struggled to get to work and take her children to school. Working with her career coach, Antonia purchased a truck and received other support necessary to meet her family’s needs.
“In addition to purchasing my truck, Michigan Works! also provided gas cards and helped me put a down payment on car insurance,” said Alexander. “Michigan Works! also assisted with resume-building and preparing for interviews. I used to be nervous during interviews, but they helped me overcome that fear and secure a job opportunity.”
Located in the neighborhoods of the people they serve, Michigan Works!’ Neighborhood Employment Hubs provide employment and training support for jobseekers. Between June 2017 and September 2020, the hubs in Battle Creek served 1,600 individuals and helped 60% of the jobseekers they served find employment opportunities.
The Neighborhood Employment Hubs are one part of a collaborative effort by Woman’s Co-Op, Kellogg Community College, Michigan Works! Southwest and Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland to improve employment outcomes in Battle Creek. This consortium recently launched Connect Battle Creek, a website that connects job seekers and businesses to the community organizations that serve Battle Creek.
Connect Battle Creek offers many tools at no cost, including tools that:
- Allow jobseekers to review a business directory and build a list of resources during their employment searches;
- Support businesses in placing and promoting job listings on platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed and Pure Michigan Talent Connect;
- Showcase the community organizations supporting Battle Creek, encouraging a community-based approach to job seeking.
“Connect Battle Creek provides an easy-to-navigate online experience for job seekers, employers and community members,” said Jakki Bungart-Bibb, Director for Michigan Works! Southwest. “Our partnership with the Woman’s Co-Op, Kellogg Community College, Goodwill and W.K. Kellogg Foundation has resulted in the implementation of a solution that connects individuals with talent, training and employment, and provides connection to local opportunities and resources to address real time needs.”