Like many economic development leaders, Jennifer Owens of Lakeshore Advantage says talent concerns remain a key issue for businesses in 2017. Aside from attracting outside businesses, the organization primarily will focus on training, recruiting and retaining talent next year, she said. To do that, Lakeshore Advantage is pushing a campaign that promotes the region’s leisure opportunities as a way to attract workers. Owens told MiBiz to expect accelerated growth from manufacturers of automation equipment in the coming year and said she’s also “very bullish” on the food processing sector.
"We are seeing a significant expansion in the food processing sector. … It really ties in well to our economy because we have a strong agriculture sector here locally. Not only can we process the product, but there’s access to a wide range of raw materials to make those products. … For our organization, we certainly respond to business attraction opportunities that come our way and do all we can to support and move those opportunities forward. But the resources we would have put into business attraction in past years when the economy was sluggish are now being redeployed to talent attraction. We recognize that having an unemployment rate of less than 3 percent is a great thing for our economy as a whole, but it also would make it very challenging for a major new employer to expand. We think that the most important thing we can do is to attract new workers here and help our existing companies continue to grow." - Jennifer Owens, President, Lakeshore Advantage