2nd Annual ReThink West Michigan event coming to Hastings
On November 21st, the Barry County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Alliance is partnering with Hello West Michigan – the regional talent attraction organization - to bring homegrown talent back to Barry County. The two organizations will host the 2nd annual ReThink West Michigan event at the Walldorff Brewpub in Downtown Hastings, an evening gathering to attract former West Michiganders back to the region. The Grand Rapids Thanksgiving Eve tradition expanded last year to a multi-location event, including Barry County.
On a day when many former Barry County students and professionals are back in the area for the Thanksgiving holiday, six area companies are coming together to convince them that it is time to “rethink” West Michigan.
“Last year was the first ReThink for Barry County. We had multiple hires as a direct result from the event, on top of the great exposure for our companies,” says Travis Alden, President of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development Alliance, a member of the collaboration that makes ReThink West Michigan a multi-location event. “We’re able to showcase regional employers that have openings all over West Michigan like Spectrum Health, as well as international companies headquartered in Barry County like Flexfab and Hastings Fiber Glass Products – who are all hiring.”
Designed not as a traditional career fair, ReThink West Michigan provides a casual, professional environment to network and discover many of the great career possibilities and growing companies in the area.
“This event is truly unique because it is solely for former West Michigan residents that have moved away. We’re highlighting the things people want to know about when they think about relocating: career opportunities and lifestyle in West Michigan,” said Cindy Brown, Executive Director of Hello West Michigan.
Gary Pleyte – a native of Hastings – attended last year’s ReThink event at the Walldorff. After graduating with his masters in mechanical engineering, Pleyte was living in Detroit while working in the automotive industry. After working five years for Chrysler, he started thinking it might be time to come back home to West Michigan.
“The atmosphere was very relaxed and stress free,” said Pleyte. He had assumed he was going to end up in Grand Rapids because of the expectation that “all the industry was in the big city” but found that wasn’t the case. “I was able to land an engineering position for a global company right in my hometown in Hastings.”
After ReThink, Pleyte interviewed with a couple of companies and started with Viking Group in January. Even after being hired, he was still being approached by companies that he met at ReThink. He now has a role where he gets to be more hands-on and is more responsible for projects rather than smaller components, which he greatly enjoys. He’s had the opportunity to travel a few times already in his new position and felt like a crucial part of the company shortly after starting.
“Gary is a great example of why we hold this event,” says Alden. “Here’s a guy who wanted to come back home and needed to get connected. He’s from Hastings and he still wasn’t aware of the career opportunities that exist here. ReThink provides a great avenue for that to happen.”
In fact, out of the five regional events held in West Michigan last year, the Barry County event resulted in the greatest number of hires directly from the event.
“That’s pretty awesome for us, but it just shows how much opportunity is here - from engineering to IT to marketing to production and everything in between,” notes Alden. I encourage anybody with family or friends visiting for Thanksgiving to encourage them to attend the event and check out the possibilities.”
The event is free to attend, only requiring interested attendees to register online at: www.rethinkwm.com.
“West Michigan companies are growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Tim Mroz, Vice President, Marketing and Communications of The Right Place, Inc. “But their growth is limited by access to talent. We have hundreds of positions available regionally, with a specific need in the areas of engineering and technology, and we would love to see former Michiganders come home to these jobs.”
Details on the event:
Date: November 21, 2018
Location: Walldorff Brewpub & Bistro – 105 E. State Street, Hastings
Time: 5:30-8pm – come and go as you please
Registration: Register for FREE at www.rethinkwm.com
Companies Attending: Flexfab, Hastings Fiberglass Products, Hastings Mutual Insurance, West Michigan Works, Spectrum Health and Viking, with more potentially being added prior to event.
A full listing of companies and career areas they are hiring for is available on the ReThink West Michigan website, under the “Hastings” location link.
November 13, 2018
Happy hour-style networking event connects Barry County natives with career opportunities
Travis Alden, President