Business and Career Expo to offer opportunities to area youth

Posted on Jan 30, 2017 in News

MANISTEE — Most school guidance counselors will agree that the last two years of high school are the most stressful for students as they try to determine a course for their future.

Business and Career Expo


The Business and Career Expo that is presented by the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce and Launch Manistee and is sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, West Shore Bank and West Shore Community College will be held on March 16 at the Little River Casino & Resort. It will offer area students the opportunity to meet prospective employers for seasonal work during the summer and long term.

One good option to give students an opportunity to see different careers that are available in this area is the annual Business and Career Expo that is presented by the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce and Launch Manistee. It is sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, West Shore Bank and West Shore Community College.

Launch Manistee’s program director Mary Ann Behm and Chamber executive director Stacie Bytwork said this is an excellent opportunity for students to speak in a one-on-one forum with business owners.

Members of the junior and senior classes from Manistee Area Public, Manistee Catholic Central, Onekama, Bear Lake, Brethren and CASMAN Academy schools are expected to attend the event. It will take place from 10 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. on March 16 at the Event Center at the Little River Casino & Resort. Organizers extended the time this year so the kids can dig a little deeper with the businesses, and especially if they are looking at employment opportunities.

“It’s such a good thing for the community, the kids and the businesses,” said Bytwork.

“The new thing this year is that we have moved it to March from October,” said Behm.  “We didn’t just want to focus on the career aspect piece with our students, but we wanted to focus on potential job openings for both our students and the community at large.”

Bytwork said businesses have said there is a need for that temporary employment aspect in this area.

“We have heard from a lot of employers, but obviously they need help finding those seasonal workers,” said Bytwork. “There is also a lot of workforce shortage around here that we are hearing about, so getting them right in March when there are so many job opportunities, they can be showcased right at the merchant’s booths.”

However, it goes even beyond listing just what jobs are available, according to Bytwork.

“To take that a step further, we are encouraging all the employers to put the benefits package up and not just to say here is your salary, but these things come with it,” said Bytwork. “It’s important to show the kids, that we do have some great things available to them in this area.”

Behm said that they want to show a good mixture of seasonal and long term opportunities.

“We are looking at what job opportunities are available on a short term basis and what is available on a long term one,” said Behm. “We will also have information about the type of certificate or education is needed for that type of job.”

Another component to the program is Launch Manistee will be working with the students in the schools during the upcoming months to prepare them for this event.

“We will be doing the prep in the schools to prepare them for their part of it, as well as working with the chamber and the businesses in terms of trying to find out more information about their business or company,” said Behm. “We actually go into the school to meet with all the students to talk with them about making eye contact, interview skills, and proper dress; for this year we are going to do a component on resumes if students want to drop them off for current employment.”

Behm said the prep time will also share information on the businesses that plan to be at the Expo and what they offer to the students and the community. That will give them the background to determine what businesses they want to key into.

“Last year we held a raffle that they would qualify for if they visited at least four businesses and employers,” she said. “We really focus on the career aspect so the students are aware these careers are available in Manistee County. It shows you can go away for college, but come back here to work and live.”

Bytwork said the employers like the students being prepared when they approach their booth seeking employment opportunities.

Bytwork said it really is a dialogue that they are hoping to establish between the employers and the students. She added that they hope to have some of the building trades there as well.

“We would like to have roofers, contractors, electricians and plumbers,” she said. “We would also like to get some of the businesses the students may not have thought about there as well, to know those jobs are open. There are also going to be some community service type things for those that are looking to get involved in those type of opportunities.”

Another area Bytwork said they hope will have booths is area schools, to show students what opportunities are available in the education field. Some of those suggestions came from the students.

“We actually had the students fill out a survey last year after the Expo to see what they wanted to see this year,” said Bytwork. “We based some of those things they asked for with this year’s Expo.”

 Posted by Ken Grabowski, Manistee News Advocate on January 25th, 2017