As a stellar year draws to a close for Team Kinexus, the organization and its affiliates are not only recapping the numbers that tell the story of their impact of the past year, they're also forecasting into the New Year in a short-form report to the community today.
Kinexus and the cohort satellite organizations around them have, indeed, enjoyed another stellar year serving hundreds of employers and thousands of job seekers as both the economy in Michigan's Great Southwest and that of the State of Michigan continued to show strength.
The purpose behind Benton Harbor-based Kinexus is to inspire positive economic change one person, one business, and one community at a time. The team at Kinexus is excited to announce their impact in 2018, which brings a whole new meaning to their purpose statement.
This year, Kinexus served more than 3,000 at-risk youth in 41 cities across Michigan, including 600 right here in Southwest Michigan. They helped 687 students obtain their high school diploma or GED; and trained 1,060 people in industries that grow our economy. Additionally, Kinexus helped 415 employers hire 3,035 people across the region of Southwest Michigan.
The Link, Kinexus’ business resource network, helped 15 employers remove barriers for more than 500 employees, resulting in a 77-percent retention rate. In addition, Kinexus’ prisoner re-entry program ranked tops in Michigan in placement rate and put over 200 returning offenders back to work and on the road to self-sufficiency.
The organization revamped its Bridge Academy alternative high school with a creative new partnership with Berrien Springs Public Schools, and students in the YouthBuild program completed a refurbished home in the city of Benton Harbor.
Todd Gustafson is President & CEO of Kinexus. He says, “We know that we cannot make a measurable impact without education and training, putting people into high skilled, high wage positions, and providing business solutions to employers.” He notes, “It’s easy to look at numbers, but these are real people and real businesses who are helping us drive economic prosperity for our state and region.”
Looking ahead, the tri-county area overall is projected to add 1,306 jobs in 2019, a growth rate of 1.3-percent. However, Gustafson points out that there are a few challenges facing Southwest Michigan heading into 2019.
He argues that “With an unemployment rate under 4-percent, an aging workforce, and stagnant population growth, the labor market will remain tight going into next year.” He says, “In addition, the regional economy is facing a few systemic challenges which include inefficient transportation systems, lack of affordable housing and a Career Tech Education (CTE) pipeline in need of investment and upgrading.”
Gustafson promies, “In 2019 we will focus on building even stronger partnerships between business and education, eliminating barriers, and helping our employers win the war for talent.”
Kinexus is an organization that invests its time and resources into creating integrated solutions for business, workforce, and community challenges to promote economic vitality in the region of Michigan's Great Southwest. For more information, you can visit online at www.Kinexus.org, follow along on Twitter @KinexusGroup or “like” them on Facebook @KinexusGroup.