Networking mixer MMDC hopes to lure ‘boomerangs’ home and retain local graduates

On Friday, October 7, Michigan Middle Development Corporation (MMDC) and its partners are inviting young professionals from across the region, and beyond, to a Coming Home: Middle Michigan event in the hopes of helping them connect with businesses and corporations that could land them a job. employment in the region.

The Coming Home 2022 event will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel near the football stadium. (Photo courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott)The 2022 event will take place at the Courtyard by Marriott on Central Michigan University Campus, 2400 East Campus Drive, next to Kelly/Shorts Football Stadium. It will be the first in-person event since 2019. Coming Home: Middle Michigan will run from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, October 7, and CMU’s homecoming football game will take place on Saturday, October 8.

“This year, we have changed location. We thought that since it’s so connected to coming home and returning oldies, it would be a really good place to try,” says Kati Mora, Vice President of MMDC.

Mora is also excited about the polished focus of this year’s event.

“Typically, this is a region-wide event. Within Region Five, there are eight counties: Saginaw, Midland, Bay, Arenac, Isabella, Clare, Gladwin, and Gratiot counties. This year we are covering a smaller area. We are focusing more on our CMU partnership and our partnership with Mid-Michigan College, and we are focusing on Isabella, Clare, and Gladwin counties. Gratiot County and Saginaw County will also join the team, so Alma College is also focusing on Saginaw Valley State University’s presence. We can be more targeted that way.

MMDC, an economic development organization dedicated to building vibrant communities through programs that encourage talent attraction and retention, understands the importance of engaging the 26-40 age group to revisit the idea of ​​building a career, and perhaps a family, in a place where they have lived. “Boomerangs” – young professionals who have been out of the state for a while but are looking to return – are one of the main targets of the event.

Kati Mora, vice president of the Middle Michigan Development Corporation.“If you look at our population loss in the census, we’re trying to look at it as an organization and actively think about ‘How can we change that?’ so that in 10 years we don’t see a bigger loss,” says Mora.

With the 2020 census figures showing a steep decline in Isabella County’s population, it will take some creative problem solving to turn things around. Between 2010 and 2020, Isabella County’s population grew from 70,311 to 64,394.

Not only will the event encourage those who have left to return to the area, but it will also attempt to retain future graduates from local colleges and universities, especially those in certain key fields, such as engineering, business, and health care, where employment gaps exist.

Mora explains, “We want to change messaging for college graduates. You don’t have to leave. We want you here. There is a reason to stay, the community wants you here and there are things to do.

Jessie Stickler, MMDC Communications Director, adds that part of the programming will be devoted to highlighting what is happening in the region and what is available to job seekers as young professionals versus students.

“There are a lot of things you didn’t see as a student that are worth exploring,” Stickler says.

So how is Coming Home: Middle Michigan different from a job fair?

For one, the format is more focused on networking than a traditional job fair. Prospective employees don’t need to come with a resume in hand; such documents would be submitted in advance. Additionally, the atmosphere of the event is more laid-back and conversation-based.

“You grab an appetizer and a drink and walk up to a high table where we have an employer stationed, and you just start having a conversation and learning about this organization that is hiring. They (the employers) have an idea of ​​the returns of the individuals. I hope this will translate into a job directly following this event, or even later,” says Mora.

MMDC staff are dedicated to building vibrant communities through programs that encourage talent attraction and retention. (Photo courtesy of MMDC)Those interested in participating should complete the Reply form and upload their resume in advance. A quick visit to the event Facebook page also provides details of employers present and boomerangs who have already returned to the area and flourished.

Companies interested in having a networking table at the event can register for the event website. Although there is no cost to businesses, places are limited.

Currently, a wide variety of employers will be represented including Bandit Industries, East Jordan Plastics, Inc., Integrity Fab & Machine, Inc., Morley, Isabella Bank, McLaren Central Michigan, MyMichigan Health, and Hemlock Semiconductor, to name a few. than several.

If you have any further questions about how to get involved in the event, you can contact the MMDC at (989) 772-2858 or by email at [email protected].

Mora encourages those who have moved and those looking to settle somewhere after college to seriously consider the area, as she herself loves raising her family here so much.

Mora says, “I love living and working in the Mt. Pleasant/Isabella County area for many reasons, but primarily because there is so much for my family to do right outside our door. From a brisk walk in the park, to the memories we make on the river, to the energy that the students and campus of Central Michigan University bring, it provides us with the perfect rhythm of life. My husband and I are also very fond of the school system and have found it easy to get involved in local organizations and groups – something that might be harder to do in larger communities.