In many respects, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed us forever. As we continue to restore capacity from the challenges of the past year and a half, we should all feel proud that the pandemic could not halt the widespread positive transformation, investment, and economic growth in Greater Lansing.
A perfect example of the widespread nature of our regional transformation is the 16th annual Celebration of Regional Growth (CORG) Awards. The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce was proud to recognize five organizations making a significant impact in our region. The recipients capture our manufacturing sector’s growth, securing our energy future, redefining healthcare, repurposing retail storefronts, supporting entrepreneurs and addressing affordable housing options.
Allen Neighborhood Center was recognized for its Allen Place project, a $11 million multi-use development on Lansing’s east side, including commercial space and affordable housing units.
Bekum America Corp. was honored for its 45,000-square-foot expansion of its Williamston production facility and corporate headquarters.
High Caliber Karting and Entertainment has helped rewrite the playbook on the indoor entertainment industry and repurposing vacant commercial space in suburban shopping centers.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light’s $500 million natural gas-fired plant in Delta Energy Park has positioned BWL as a leader in clean energy.
McLaren Greater Lansing is helping redefine regional health care with its new 240-bed hospital opening in 2022 on Lansing’s south end. The McLaren project, combined with Sparrow Health System’s recently announced $800 million development, have invested $1.5 billion in our region and elevated Lansing’s leadership role in health care.
Business leaders have identified infrastructure and talent as top priorities impacting their business and our region. From Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, over $275 million was invested in infrastructure in the Lansing region. These dollars include significant investment on the I-69 corridor, I-496, I-96 and multiple local roads. The Lansing Regional Chamber was pleased to see the recent passage of the much-needed infrastructure bill. This legislation is a significant step toward addressing one of our top business priorities and was embraced by Republicans and Democrats, business, labor, and local government leaders.
Playing an equally significant role for future growth in our region will be investing and developing our future talent. Several statewide programs assist employers and employees in gaining new skills in an economy that is moving and changing rapidly. The Lansing Regional Chamber has been a strong advocate for these critical and much-needed workforce development initiatives.
Going Pro Talent Fund: is designed to address the need for professional trade talent. Highly skilled individuals are in high demand for careers in health care, information technology, advanced manufacturing, construction, and the automotive industry. Professional trades leverage talent, work ethic, and know-how to keep Michigan’s economy and workforce healthy, solid, and growing. Also, these careers often require less schooling and debt than a traditional four-year degree.
Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program that pays workers to attend in-district community colleges and offers a significant tuition discount if attending out-of-district community colleges. The purpose of the scholarship is to complete an associate degree or a skill certificate program.
The Futures for Frontliners is a state scholarship program for Michiganders without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the COVID-19 shutdown in spring 2020 (April 1-June 30). This scholarship provides these frontline workers with tuition-free access to local community colleges to pursue an associate degree or skills certificate.
Sixty by Thirty is the state’s initiative to increase working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 49% today to 60% by 2030. The initiative works to close the skills gap, increase opportunities for better jobs and make the state more competitive for economic growth.
Throughout Greater Lansing, transformation and strong collaboration shape our identity into a world-class, thriving community. It is clear that nothing – not even a pandemic – can prevent our region from moving forward.
Tim Daman is president and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.