2021 Fellows Strategic Planning Meeting Recap

Posted in Blog on September 23, 2021

2021 Fellows Strategic Planning Meeting Recap


At our Fellows Strategic Planning Session on September 16, we began with a tour of the new Lakeshore Campus that Grand Rapids Community College recently opened in August of 2021.


We reviewed the four economic indicators the Lakeshore Fellows helped us choose two years ago. These indicators have the most influence on our region’s economic health. They are:

  • Average Annual Pay

  • Total Employment Growth

  • Median Household Income

  • Educational Attainment, bachelor’s degree or higher

Data shows we are currently on track with Average Annual pay and Median Household Income.
An area of concern is Total Employment Growth. We looked at barriers including; emerging workforce and a diverse industry and population. As we look at the federal data, our counties are showing a decrease in employment growth over the last four years. In overcoming this barrier, we believe our strongest competitive advantage is the willingness of our business community to share best practices, open their doors to each other and often collaborate with their competitors for our community’s greater good. 
We brought that data to life by bringing up two of our leaders in the automation space, Lakeshore Fellows Members Paul Brinks of Koops Inc. and Craig Ulrich of JR Automation to help us investigate those top performing communities. 


Paul Brinks (far left) spoke to Koop’s Inc. experience as a manufacturer in Greenville, South Carolina, located near our comparative community, Spartanburg County. Craig Ulrich (middle) spoke to JR’s experience doing business near Rutherford County in Nashville, Tennessee. 
Following that we broke the group in two and conducted sessions that focused in on these two comparative communities to investigate the why behind their employment growth. 


In the handout below you will see the 4 indicators we have identified as those that are driving employment growth in these comparative communities. 

The program closed with attendees providing feedback on making strides forward in Total Employment Growth in these breakout sessions.  
Thank you to our Lakeshore Fellows who provide insight and lively discussion on how we can continue to be a place of choice with a vibrant economy. For those who could not attend, myself or Beth Blanton would love to sit down and get your perspective.  We need all of your support, insight and partnership as we look to economic vibrancy and educational opportunities in 2030 and beyond.