Great Lakes Foods – 2017 Marinette/Menominee Employer of the Year

Pictured from left to right:
Jill Badker, Advertising Manager
Jenny Short, Community Relations Leader, Wisconsin Public Service, Michigan Works! Representative
Gene Mylener, President
Allison Stewart, Marketing Director
Jason DuPont, Logistics and Warehouse Director


UPWARD Talent Council Michigan Works! recognized Great Lakes Foods at the 2017 Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner & Awards Ceremony as the Employer of the Year for the Marinette/Menominee region.  

Great Lakes Foods has built a reputation for helping retail grocers build their business and grow their profits. Their experienced team focuses on innovation in products and format, a strong marketing program and personal, customer driven retail support.  Great Lakes Foods has been successfully serving independent grocers in Wisconsin and Michigan and for over 100 years from their 300,000 square foot warehouse and support center in Menominee, Michigan.

They supply stores throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin.

They are a locally owned company that takes pride in delivering personal customer service and always strive to help their customers grow.  They make significant investments back into their business to maintain the level of excellence their clients have come to expect from this thriving company.

Great Lakes Foods is involved in their community in many ways.  Their list of accomplishments is very impressive and includes helping local food pantries:  St. Vincent DePaul, Abundant Life Church, and NEWCAP Food Pantry.   They support the Marinette/Menominee Chamber of Commerce and their activities.  They also work with the Area Schools, the YMCA, the Marinette and Menominee Recreation Departments, Marinette County Breakfast on the Farm, the Waterfront Festival, Project Give, the Jim Hodge Memorial Run, the Bay Area Medical Center Menominee River Century Bike Ride and Veteran Organizations. 

Great Lakes Foods is also a proud sponsor of the DAR Boys and Girls Club/River Cities Community Pool “Da Yooper Plunge.”   In fact, Great Lakes Foods was recognized as “Top Fundraising Team” in 2015 and 2016.

Great Lakes Foods truly represents Business and Community Excellence.

Workshop training yields employability certifications


From left: Erika Justus, Ryan Lobeck, Julie Burie, Dalton Lamb, Dakota DeClark and Jonathan Ringel. Not pictured is Barb Reisner, program developer.

IRON MOUNTAIN — The first four graduates of the employability training workshops now have employability certifications to add to their career portfolios.

The Career Launch initiative, Employability Certification, was held during April, and put on by local leaders with Great Start, the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Kiwanis Club, YMCA, Dickinson-Iron Community Service Agency, Dickinson Area Chamber Alliance, United Way of Dickinson County and Michigan Works!

The four graduates completed their career portfolios and achieved the certification after learning career development skills and preparation readiness necessary for employment.

“Michigan Works! staff will continue ongoing career mentoring to assist job placement for all graduates from the employability certification class as a number one priority,” noted Erika Justus, Michigan Works!, Business Services Team Consultant.

Jonathan Ringel, a leader in the program, noted that local businesses have provided valuable information to the Career Launch Team. “They have indicated that individuals applying for jobs and interviewing need more information on how to get a job and how to keep a job.”

Before walking into a job interview, learning how to develop a career portfolio is a valuable asset, noted Barb Reisner, Career Launch program developer.

“It can be a great confidence builder to have the portfolio consisting of career major information, hiring attributes, a current resume, personal profile information, work photographs and more,” Reisner said.

Any organizations, individuals, businesses, or schools interested in joining the Career Launch Consortium, should contact Reisner, Ringel, Justus or Lynda Zanon, Chamber Director with the Dickinson Area Chamber Alliance or call (906) 774-3647 EXT 1403

Copper Country Talent Tour

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Michigan Works! and the Copper Country Intermediate School District are building the pipeline of future workers in the Upper Peninsula.  On April 20, 2017, Certified Nursing Assistant classes participated in local Talent Tours to learn more about jobs in the healthcare field.

The Eisenhower Center in Chassell Michigan showed students a day in the life for care providers working with residents with Traumatic Brain Injury.  The students were able to tour all locations of the facility, interact with residents, and hear  stories of how their life has changed being able to reside at the Eisenhower Center.  They learned that the care provided by individuals with CNA training changes the life of the residents.  The Eisenhower center is a Michigan based, employee owned company.

The second stop of the tour brought students to UP Health System – Portage in Hancock, Michigan.  The group was met by staff and had a short orientation of the facility and how a majority of the staff have all come from the Copper Country ISD Certified Nursing Assistant program.  At each department, students were given an overview of the department and career paths available to them.

This year, tours were planned to visit Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, The Lighthouse at Hancock, The Eisenhower Center, Omega House, and UP Health System – Portage/ Portage Pointe.  The time and effort of these facilities to show students what it is like to work in this field will go a long way in filling future workforce needs.

Hiawatha Communications Incorporated – 2017 Alger County Employer of the Year


James P. Brogan, President & CEO, Hiawatha Communications Incorporated; Katherine A. Reynolds, Executive Director, Greater Munising Bay Partnership/Alger County Chamber of Commerce & Munising Downtown Development Authority; Jerry Doucette, UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! Board

Munising, MI., May 5, 2017 – The UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! recognized Hiawatha Communications Incorporated as the ‘2017 Alger County Employer of the Year’ last night during the Alger County Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner held at the Moose Lodge. Hiawatha Communications Incorporated (HCI) makes a difference in the Alger region by exemplifying business and community excellence.

HCI is an Upper Peninsula of Michigan-based communications company founded in the 1800’s.  Since then, the Company has been owned, managed, and operated by local people with local interests.  Continually building on the innovation of the past, today, HCI is made up of the following subsidiaries: Hiawatha Telephone Company (with offices located in Brimley and Munising), Midway Telephone Company (located in Watton), Ontonagon County Telephone Company (located in Ontonagon), Jamadots Incorporated, and Great Lakes Interlink Incorporated.  Together, the companies provide residential and business customers, who are spread over 20 telephone exchange territories, with reliable local and long distance voice service, value-based advanced calling features, ‘best in class’ high-speed internet service, data transport, as well as additional services that enhance this core group of products.

4th Annual Keweenaw Job Fair held at the Finnish American Heritage Center


April 4, 2017 – Finlandia University collaborated with the UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! to bring jobseekers the 4th annual Keweenaw Job Fair. This year’s fair was held at the Finnish American Heritage Center in downtown Hancock. Jobseekers primarily included Finlandia students, Michigan Works! customers and local high school students who took a class trip to the fair. Over 100 job seekers attended the fair throughout the day.

Thirty-seven businesses were recruiting at this year’s fair, representing many different industries. The Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center and the Lighthouse at Hancock were there representing the Healthcare industry; Koppers Performance Chemicals, WarmRain Corporation and L’Anse Manufacturing were representing production and manufacturing; and McDonald’s, Culvers, and Burger King were there representative of the food service industry. Other participating organizations included the Michigan State Police and Department of Corrections, Superior National Bank & Trust, Holiday Inn Express, Walgreens and Fort Wilkins State Park. These are just some of the available employment opportunities represented at this year’s event.

Businesses had employable job-seeker candidates visit their tables, where they promoted their businesses and handed out applications for available positions. A few businesses conducted on-site interviews at the fair.

Students from Horizons Alternative School and Lake Linden High School were brought to the fair as an opportunity to learn about local employment openings and explore various industry sectors. They spoke with recruiters from all businesses to ask questions and learn more about the work involved in each industry.

Many Michigan Works! customers attended the job fair with resumes they had prepared with the help of Michigan Works! staff and the resources available at the local Michigan Works! service center.

This year’s job fair was made possible by the continuing collaboration between Finlandia University and the local Michigan Works! agency to connect students and other jobseekers to the businesses in search of local talent.

To find out more about upcoming job fairs and how you can participate call 800-285-9675.

L’Anse, Ontonagon host Career Events


The UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! recently worked with local partners to host two Career Events at the L’Anse and Ontonagon High Schools. These events were designed to help students learn about local careers in the U.P. and what skills and education they will need to get them. Students from the L’Anse and Baraga School Districts as well as students from the Gogebic Ontonagon Intermediate School District attended the Career Events which were also open to the public.  Over 90 employer tables were set up during the two events to provide students with an opportunity to connect with local employers and find out more about future employment opportunities.  

Many of the students participating talked with employers about what kind of education and certifications are needed to work at their business. Events like these can help businesses recruit the brightest and best from the local talent pool and retain the young talent the U.P. has to offer in the region.

Michigan’s Thirteenth Annual Small Business Awards Program Announces 2017 Winners

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Nearly 60 businesses will be honored May 4th during National Small Business Week;

honorees recognized for role in growing Michigan’s economy and creating jobs


MICHIGAN – Small business owners and supporters are coming from all across the state to show their support for Michigan’s growing companies on Thursday, May 4that the Thirteenth Annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business awards dinner.

“The companies selected this year give us an understanding of Michigan’s successful entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Jennifer Deamud, Director of Michigan Celebrates Small Business and Associate State Director of the Michigan Small Business Development Center. “These companies are significant drivers of our economy. In addition, they play a critical role in their communities as job creators.”

Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB) is the state’s premier awards program celebrating small business excellence. Over 60 businesses, including the 2017 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” will be honored during the awards dinner. Awardees, guests and small business supporters will gather for an evening to highlight the importance of small businesses in Michigan and to acknowledge sixty companies that are creating jobs and growing. The awards gala will be held at the Lansing Center in Lansing, MI.

“Our team is incredibly humbled and honored to be named one of ‘Michigan’s 50 Companies to Watch.’ We feel so fortunate to be recognized alongside so many successful, inspiring, and thriving small businesses in Michigan, and to be named among the 2017 50 Companies to Watch is truly a dream come true. Our team and our community have played an invaluable role in making Love & Buttercream what it is today, and we look forward to giving our amazing state of Michigan something exciting to watch,” commented Brooke Wilson Vitale, Owner of Love & Buttercream in Oakland County.

The awards program will occur during National Small Business Week, April 30 – May 6, drawing extra attention to Michigan’s role in stimulating the national and global economy.

Companies nominated for the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list must be second-stage companies, defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants. In addition, the companies must be privately held and headquartered in Michigan.

Judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities selected the winners. The judges evaluated the nominees’ demonstration of intent and capacity to grow based on the following:

          • Employee or sales growth

          • Exceptional entrepreneurial leadership

          • Sustainable competitive advantage

          • Other notable factors that showcase the company’s success

The following companies will receive the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch Award:

  • Advanced Blending Solutions – Wallace
  • Advanced Battery Concepts – Clare
  • Air and Liquid Systems, Inc. – Rochester Hills
  • Ambassador Software – Royal Oak
  • America’s Preferred Home Warranty – Jackson
  • ASK – Lansing
  • Brown Iron Brewhouse – Washington
  • Collective Idea, Inc. – Holland
  • Continuity Programs, Inc. – Walled Lake
  • Dataspeed Inc. – Rochester Hills
  • Decypher – Berkley
  • Doberman Technologies – Mason
  • Downtown Restaurant Investments – Bay City
  • DROUGHT – Royal Oak
  • Edify North – Holland
  • Environmental Testing and Consulting – Romulus
  • Freshwater Digital – Grand Rapids
  • Goldner Walsh Garden & Home – Pontiac
  • Hurley Marine, Inc. – Escanaba
  • Image360 – Traverse City
  • IMC – Independent Machine Company – Escanaba
  • inFORM Studio – Northville
  • J Keller Properties, LLC – Ann Arbor
  • JetCo Solutions – Grand Rapids
  • K & M Industrial – Gladstone
  • Kalkaska Screw Products – Kalkaska
  • K-Tec Systems – Farmington Hills
  • Latitude 42 Brewing Company – Portage
  • Love & Buttercream – Royal Oak
  • ManoByte, Inc. – Grand Rapids
  • McCreadie Group, Inc. – Ann Arbor
  • Mixed Staffing & Recruiting – Grand Rapids
  • Mobile Defenders – Kentwood
  • Motor City Carpet & Flooring – Warren
  • MTW Industries LLC – Mt. Pleasant
  • Northern Promotions, LLC – Lachine
  • OneStream Software – Rochester
  • P.J. Wallbank Springs, Inc. – Port Huron
  • RBV Contracting – Detroit
  • Safety Net Inc. – Traverse City
  • Sandalwood Engineering & Ergonomics – Livonia
  • Stone House Bread – Traverse City
  • Tech Defenders – Grand Rapids
  • Torrent Consulting – Ann Arbor
  • Towel Tracker – Grand Rapids
  • United Technical Inc. – Whitmore Lake
  • Van Straten Brothers, Inc. – Baraga
  • Vollwerth & Baroni Companies – Hancock
  • Xeratec Corporation – Hancock
  • Youngtronics, LLC – Wixom

In addition to the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch award, the following companies will be honored at Michigan Celebrates Small Business:

  • Main Street USA Award: Sandlot Sports – Saginaw
  • Innovation of the Year Award: Light Guide Systems (LGS) – Wixom
  • Government Contractor of the Year Award: RBV Contracting – Detroit

Tickets are available for $135 per person or attendees can reserve a table of eight for $900. Tickets can be purchased online at

Now in its 13th year, Michigan Celebrates Small Business has a strong network of over 600 awardee alumni.  To celebrate the continued success of past award winners Michigan Celebrates Small Business will be presenting two new awards. The Strategically Focused Award and Most Engaged Workplace Award will be announced soon and will be awarded on May 4th at the gala.

Michigan Celebrates Small Business is a partnership of the Michigan Small Business Development Center (Michigan SBDC), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Edward Lowe Foundation, Small Business Association of Michigan, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Michigan Business Network.

The Michigan SBDC is the managing partner of Michigan Celebrates Small Business in 2017. In the thirteen year history of Michigan Celebrates, the Michigan SBDC was the managing partner eleven of those years. Michigan Celebrates Small Business is made possible with the generous support of Consumers Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Goldman Sachs, Comcast Business, DTE Energy, AF Group, Rehmann, PNC Bank, Varnum Law, Michigan Credit Union League, Consumers Energy, 307 Events and Dynamic Edge, Inc.

For more information regarding Michigan Celebrates Small Business contact Jennifer Deamud, Executive Director of Michigan Celebrates at the Michigan Small Business Development Center – or 616-295-6232 (cell).

Meijer adds new stores, jobs to the U.P. with Michigan Works!


A major employer is launching two new locations in the Upper Peninsula and bringing many new jobs to the area.  Meijer is opening stores in Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie later this year and recently spent time at the UPward Talent Council Michigan Works! offices to fill the massive task of hiring  600 new employees. Representatives from Meijer spent four days at the Michigan Works! Service Center in Escanaba working on a mass hire process that included over 500 interviews. In Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Works! hosted leadership interviews onsite and held 14 application fairs over seven days to assist prospective employees with the application process.  The UPward Talent Council also participated in a Meijer hiring event hosted at Lake Superior State University to assist applicants. Both Michigan Works! offices also hosted orientation training for the over 600 new employees for the two locations.   

Local Students Explore Future Careers


On Thursday, February 23rd, roughly 400 8th & 11th grade students from all Gogebic, Ontonagon and Hurley, WI Schools participated in a Gogebic Community College (GCC) preview day as well a career exploration day in the Lindquist Center gym on the GCC campus. 

The planning of this event was a group effort between the UPward Talent Council Michigan Works!, GCC Staff, The Ironwood Chamber of Commerce, Gogebic- Ontonagon Intermediate School District and Michigan Rehab services. The students participated in events like an ice breaker activity in the morning, lunch, a campus tour, and many of the businesses had games or activities at their table to engage students. Some GCC programs also had tables there to represent the educational opportunities at the college that would tie in to the careers represented.

Events like this help expose students to options that are available to them when they start planning their career path. Students are able to connect the training and education they will need to get a good job after they complete school. This event also raises awareness with students about careers they might not have known about. There are many family sustaining jobs locally and connecting students to all of their options helps local businesses find the best talent and gives opportunities to local students.

Over 40 businesses and organizations were in attendance to represent careers of all types. Everything from welding and other trades, veterinary medicine, manufacturing and corrections just to name a few. The schools and business participants agreed that the event was a great success, and hope to make this an annual event going forward.

Special thanks to Extreme Tool & Engineering of Wakefield, MI as well as Snow Country Contracting of Bessemer, MI whose sponsorship funding helped with busing costs for the Ontonagon School District. The planning committee also offers special thanks to the many local businesses that offered donations for things like bottled water, dinner wear, and prizes for games played with the students.

2017 Apprentice of the Year

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Pictured:  Tony Retaskie, Executive Director, Upper Peninsula Construction Council and Upper Peninsula Apprentice of the Year Kevin Pratt

Approximately 180 people met at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris on Saturday, February 25, 2017 for the sixth annual Upper Peninsula Apprentice of the Year recognition banquet. The winner of this year’s award was Kevin Pratt, an apprentice member of IBEW Local 906. The two finalists were Erin Lakenen, IBEW Local 906 and Paul Barna, U.P. Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 111. This event was organized and hosted by the Upper Peninsula Construction Council (UPCC) to recognize outstanding apprentices in the U.P. construction industry. The selection panel was made up of James Ebli, President, Gundlach Champion, Inc.; Deborah Veiht, Superintendent, Marquette Alger RESA; Roxanne Daust, Executive Vice President, Range Bank; Don Maki, Commissioner, Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service; Mike Fornetti, Verso Corporation; and Art Gischia, Sr. Vice President for Administration, NMU. Altogether there were 20 apprentices nominated by the construction trades that represent construction workers across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.