Since its inception in 2007, the event has evolved from a business-to-business showcase to a more interactive experience for participating organizations and the public alike.
For its 10th installment, the expo will include an emphasis on job/career opportunities for the community’s current and future workforce.
“The expo will always have that business-to-business aspect,” said Stacie Bytwork, president of the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, “and it’s still a great opportunity to showcase your product or your service — show what your business is all about and what it does for the community — but we’re adding the career side of it, because workforce has been a concern across all of Northern Michigan.
“We want to make sure we’re out in front of that and help our employers connect with the right employees in the community, whether it’s for full time employment, part time, or even seasonal work, internships and volunteer opportunities.”
This added element will certainly be highlighted in the morning session of the event, when juniors and seniors from all six county high schools visit the expo through Launch Manistee, an initiative designed to support the success of Manistee County students from childhood through adulthood.
“We started this partnership with the chamber three years ago, looking at it as a great opportunity to include our county’s high school students,” said Mary Ann Behm, program coordinator of Launch Manistee. “This event is really twofold for our students: It gives them the opportunity to seek possible seasonal employment but at the same time learn about potential careers here in Manistee County.
“And it’s really a win-win for both the students and the businesses,” she added. “The businesses can obviously showcase themselves and expose the job opportunities they may have, while of course the students are able to learn about the current job market and start thinking about their own career path.
“On top of that, these students are the future livers and spenders of this community. This is a starting point in making those connections between area youth and area businesses.”
Behm said members of Launch Manistee are making the rounds to area schools this week to prepare participating students for their visit to the expo.
“Were basically prepping them on what to expect,” she said, “listing which businesses will be there, discussing what types of questions the students may want to ask, and even suggesting the type of dress or demeanor that would be appropriate at the expo.”
Bytwork said the chamber’s partnership with Launch has been a perfect match the past three years.
“Oh it’s been great,” she said. “The students — that generation — are the next workforce, so we definitely want to let them know about everything available in our community, and get the business community engaged in that process as well.
“We also want to make sure our businesses understand that, yes, those students are seeking jobs and learning about careers, but they’re also consumers. Even if you’re not currently hiring, the people you’ll see at the expo will potentially shop at your store or seek your service in the future.”
Of the expo’s participating businesses and organizations, employment opportunities consist of 329 full time positions (some of which may be stationed outside of Manistee County), 84 part time jobs, 285 volunteer opportunities and nine internships.
Students will visit the expo from 9-11:45 a.m. while the general public is welcome to attend from 1-3 p.m.
The event will feature many returning businesses/organizations as well as nearly 15 newcomers to the expo. Bytwork said there are still booths available and those interested should contact the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce as soon as possible by calling (231) 723-2575 or visiting www.manisteechamber.com.
This year’s expo is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital, West Shore Bank and West Shore Community College.
Credit to Manistee News Advocate, article by Dylan Savela on March 6th, 2018