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Talent

Throughout her career, Jodi Owczarski has learned to wear many different hats. She’s worked in human resources at a large manufacturing company, run a nonprofit organization, launched her own business and worked in operations for a global consulting firm. Now, Owczarski can add one more title: CEO of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, an organization where she’s worked since 2017. Owczarski took over running the West Coast Chamber following the retirement of longtime leader and mentor Jane Clark, who was with the organization in various capacities for 32 years. Owczarski recently spoke with MiBiz about embarking on her new role and how she plans to help the West Coast Chamber and the local business community succeed. 

People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology, a nonprofit focused on increasing social and economic opportunities in the region, is launching a new tech education pathway within its Adult Career Training Program. 


People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.

Economic development agency The Right Place Inc. has launched plans to transform the greater Grand Rapids area into a technology and innovation hub over the next 10 years. 

People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.



The former CEO alliance known as Talent 2025 has rebranded as Talent First Inc., unveiled a fresh strategic initiative and will soon launch a five-part program designed to address employers’ needs amid a quickly evolving workforce. 

People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.

People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.


A nationwide bus driver shortage has forced school districts to cut routes and scheduled transit services to trim trips. 

People in the News: A roundup of new hires, promotions and awards in West Michigan.

KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University’s longtime general counsel has joined law firm Miller Canfield PLC.



Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for July 5, 2022 

Grand Rapids staffing and human resources outsourcing firm Axios HR recently completed its merger with Petoskey-based PMP Personnel Services, creating an 11-office entity spanning Northern to Southwest Michigan.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for June 20, 2022 


Formed more than eight years ago, the psychiatry residency program at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services has been paying dividends by helping to ease an acute shortage of providers and expand services.

A new state law makes Michigan the 14th state to require personal finance education as a prerequisite for high school graduation. 

A social science research organization that abruptly split from Calvin University in recent months hopes to seize new opportunities to raise capital and work with more organizations that may have been hesitant to partner with a religious academic institution.


GRAND RAPIDS — A three-day conference slated to kick off Thursday in Grand Rapids will promote diversity in the technology industry.

The number of various West Michigan job positions paying $15 to $17 an hour has spiked since early 2020, illustrating how fast employers operating in a tight and fiercely competitive labor market have had to raise wages to attract workers.

West Michigan colleges and universities saw significant leadership turnover during the spring, bringing in a new crop of presidents as workforce development proves crucial during a widespread talent crunch.


A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor could jeopardize crucial funding for Michigan’s primary workforce development association, leading to the potential closure of at least 20 job training facilities and a loss of more than 200 staffers.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for June 6, 2022 

The Michigan Works! Association, which provides a wide range of services for both job seekers and employers throughout the state, says a proposed federal rule change would strip the agency of significant resources. 


Two longtime Grand Rapids-area communications professionals are on the move.

Business groups, organized labor officials, Democrats and Republicans are making strange bedfellows in support of a plan to reform term limits for statewide office, which restrict the amount of time lawmakers can spend in the House and Senate.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for May 23, 2022 


Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for April 25, 2022 

GRAND RAPIDS — Aquinas College has named Alicia Córdoba as its ninth president in the school’s 146-year history.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for April 25, 2022 


Diversity, equity and inclusion has emerged as an “important pressure point” in the past two years as companies compete for talent and regional economic development organizations seek to attract and retain industries, consultants and business advocates say.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for April 11, 2022 

Late last month, Calvin University’s board of trustees announced that Wiebe Boer would become the 11th president in the history of the Grand Rapids-based private institution.


GRAND RAPIDS — Calvin University has appointed Dr. Wiebe Boer as the 11th president in the school’s history.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for March 28, 2022

As employers and workers return to in-person interaction, virtual team building will remain a convenient or even preferred method of professional development for some West Michigan companies. 


A Q&A with David Robb, co-owner and managing partner of Express Employment Professionals

GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Valley State University plans to add a new learning space at its downtown Grand Rapids campus that will serve as an intersection of business and technology education for community members and students.

Here is the MiBiz People in the news report for March 14, 2022


GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids-based law firm Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC has hired former Perrigo Co. plc executive Rich Sorota as CEO.

GRAND RAPIDS — Terrapin Care Station and JARS Cannabis are partnering with Higher Learning Institutions to launch a year-long professional development program for minority entrepreneurs looking to get into the cannabis industry.

Several large West Michigan-based companies earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index, a tool that scores how well businesses support LGBTQ people. 


ALLENDALE — Grand Valley State University has expanded its tuition-free program to all qualifying students in Michigan, reaching beyond the original six counties announced in early 2021. 

From workforce shortages and supply chain snags to rising costs of raw materials, the manufacturing industry has certainly faced a multi-pronged set of issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As a company that manufactures metal products and assemblies, Grandville-based Jireh Metal Products Inc. was certainly not immune. MiBiz caught up with President and CEO Michael Davenport to learn how the pandemic has shaped the way Jireh will do business in the future.

Tyler Kutt took the reins of Grand Rapids-based web and mobile app developer Grand Apps at the beginning of 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt life and the economy. Prior to purchasing the company with longtime employee Brandon Ross, Kutt served as head of marketing for the business. With five employees that have been working remotely since the pandemic began, Kutt spoke with MiBiz about COVID-inspired lessons he has learned so far in his tenure as co-owner. 


Shannon Cohen works through her consulting firm, Shannon Cohen Inc., to help companies across a range of industries improve leadership practices around equity and wellness. But Cohen wears many hats as an author, podcaster and owner of a product line called Tough Skin, Soft Heart, as well as the leader of the Rockstar Woman Brunch Experience. Cohen shared her insights on the labor challenges many industries face right now, and some of the ways companies have found success in leadership practices during the pandemic.

About 500 people have gone through leadership coaching offered by Leading by Design, a Zeeland-based business that Rodger Price formed in January 2014 to groom a new generation of business leaders in West Michigan and help existing executives improve. Believing the region can become a “hotbed of the best leaders in the country,” Price aims to graduate 1,000 people from the year-long program by 2027. He recently spoke with MiBiz about his outlook on future leaders.

Brent Gibson, president of Grand Rapids-based Construction Simplified, said his leadership has been tested by COVID-19 and all of its repercussions for the construction industry, but he believes the pandemic has made him a better leader. Gibson has found that clear communication with his team has been a crucial aspect to leading effectively. In a year filled with many obstacles for the construction industry, Construction Simplified is branching out into new projects, planning to grow its small firm of 10 people, and move into a new office space.