MANISTEE — By late morning, the signup sheet on Holly Karlsen’s clipboard had little to no room left.
Karlsen — the director of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ upcoming Next Generation Learning Center — ran a popular booth at the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business & Career Expo on Thursday, and she had a new crop of potential volunteers to prove it.
“We already have about 30 students signed up to volunteer within our center,” she said of the licensed childcare facility slated to open in late April. “We’re looking for all sorts of volunteers — high school to senior citizens — so this has been a wonderful opportunity to connect them with volunteer opportunities.”
And opportunity is exactly what the Business & Career Expo is all about.
More than 50 area businesses and organizations participated in this year’s event, which was held at the Little River Casino Resort.
Presented by the Chamber in partnership with Launch Manistee, the day was split into two sessions: the morning designated to Manistee County high school juniors and seniors, and the afternoon hours open to the public.
“We’ve had 500 students filter through from all six district high schools,” said Manistee Area Chamber executive director Stacie Bytwork. “They’ve been really engaged with the businesses, finding out what job opportunities are available, asking about careers and how to pursue them. … I just talked to a few of the businesses and they’ve been thrilled with the interest from the students.”
The partnership between the Chamber and Launch Manistee — an initiative designed to support the success of Manistee County students from childhood through adulthood — began with 2015’s installment of the Business Expo, when the two first held the supplemental career expo for the area’s 11th and 12th graders.
“By partnering with the chamber, we’re able provide a very professional and businesslike atmosphere for the students,” Launch Manistee’s program coordinator Mary Ann Behm previously told the News Advocate. “It really opens their eyes and gives them a better understanding of potential careers.”
“The students are able to learn more about careers and businesses in Manistee County and the businesses are able to meet the youth, explain what they do and what education and training is necessary,”
In that vein, this year’s expo was rescheduled from its typical autumn date to a time frame closer to the end of the school year.
“We saw a big need to fill for our businesses, who are looking for seasonal or summer employment this time of year,” Bytwork said. “And that’s what this event really covers: job and career opportunities.
“It’s also giving people a chance to learn about what types of businesses and organizations are in our community,” she added. “And it’s great for business to business networking while they are all here.”
This year’s expo was sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, West Shore Bank and West Shore Community College.
Posted by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate on March 16th, 2017