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The I-69 Thumb Region is experiencing job growth, as many employers are in a hiring mode. At the same time, there are many residents here who would like to increase their incomes by obtaining a new or better job.

Bolstering the area’s labor market will be the focus of the I-69 Thumb Region Talent Forum being held Jan. 24 at the Lapeer County Club, 3786 Hunt Rd. in Elba Township. The forum will tackle workforce supply factors including unemployment, underemployment, out-county commute and impending retirements.

Participants will also delve into the critical factors affecting workforce participation.

Currently, the percentage of the working-age population (ages 15 and up) in the I-69 Thumb Region stands at 56.6 percent, according to an analysis of 2017 employment data by Emsi. The statewide average for labor force participation is 60.1 percent, and there are several areas of the state have rates that are almost 10 percent higher than the I-69 Thumb Region.

“We want to connect more workers to good paying jobs that are available in our region,” said Janice Karcher, Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “There are open positions in the skilled trades, supervision, and technician levels in various industries. These jobs typically require an apprenticeship, education certificate or associates degree.”

Input from the employer sector is crucial to understanding the challenges of regional labor market, said Jody Kerbyson, CEO of GST Michigan Works!. Workforce availability also helps drives business recruitment.

“The bottom line is this: How can we help more people in the I-69 Thumb Region secure good-paying jobs? So, we’re partnering to strengthen the connection between local employers and workers to be able to address that question as completely as possible.”

Input gleaned at forum will be used to guide the allocation of talent project funds in 2018.

The event, which runs from 1-4 p.m., is free. However, registration is required.

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Prospective attendees may contact Janice Karcher at 810.600.1429, if they have questions about forum or the data to be presented.

The I-69 Thumb Region is a partnership of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, Lapeer Development Corporation, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Sanilac & Huron County Economic Development Corporation and Tuscola County Economic Development Corporation.