U.P. Talent Development Successes Honored by State Leaders, Workforce Experts

A graphic that says, "2021 Impact Awards, March 21, Virtual"
Lawmakers Celebrate Local Talent, Career Development Efforts in the Upper Peninsula

LANSING, MI (March 31, 2021)—Upper Peninsula talent development and employment successes were among those celebrated by state leaders at the Michigan Works! Association Impact Awards this week.

 Local lawmakers and statewide talent development officials gathered virtually on Wednesday, March 31 to recognize Jacquart Fabric Products and Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! for providing essential equipment to businesses around the state during a crisis.

Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! Recognizes the significant role Jacquart Fabric Products (JFP) plays within their local community and beyond.

Based in Ironwood, MI, the fabric production company employs more than 90 Midwesterners to make everything from industrial covers to kids’ playset canopies, as well as managing Stormy Kromer, home to the iconic cap.  Upper Peninsula Michigan Works! Collaborates with JFP to fill current talent needs, build the talent pipeline and lead community-based efforts to support the economic vitality of their community to ensure a strong, resilient economy in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

When the pandemic hit, JFP took immediate action in helping those beyond their local community.  At the pandemic’s onset, JFP received an urgent voicemail from UW Health System in Madison, WI asking if JFP could make 50,000 masks as soon as possible from a pattern they had to protect frontline workers.  JFP blew expectations away when they produced nearly 5,000 masks per day for the Wisconsin organization.

“Everybody on our team pitched in without hesitation,” said Stormy Kromer President Gina Jacquart Thorsen.  “They came in on weekends and worked 10-hour days.  Our HR person took customer orders, the marketing manager learned to sew so she could help, customer service representatives became janitors, and my dad and I were on the floor sewing.”

Soon after, a downstate hospital system, Bronson Battle Creek, requested 6,000 gowns for their frontline staff.  In less than 20 days, JFP designed the gowns, retooled their processes, and delivered the first shipment to Bronson.  Then came the order from Trinity Health in Livonia for 100,000 gowns.  Although JFP didn’t have the capacity to do it themselves, Bob Jacquart’s years of relationship-building paid off.  They quickly coordinated with several other sewing contractors to get the job done.

CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products, Bob Jacquart, sees this years’ experience as a perfect reflection of doing business in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Here in the Upper Peninsula, we are at our best when challenges hit,” said Jacquart. “We are resilient, responsive, and adaptable.  We will go the extra mile for our colleagues, our customers, or even a competitor if they are in need.  The only reason we could respond the way we did was because of our people.  They are like all the Michigan workers who help keep the wheels turning – hardworking, dedicated, and skilled.”

Life changed when the pandemic hit, but this Upper Peninsula company did not let the virus win.  JFP rose to the occasion and showed the country what an impact a homegrown, family-owned Upper Peninsula company can make.

The Impact Awards hosted by the Michigan Works! Association recognizes the economic development success being achieved in communities across Michigan. During the event, local lawmakers present tributes to dozens of honorees from across the state. 

“A huge thank you to Jacquart Fabric Products for their support of fellow Midwesterners during the pandemic,” said state Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah). “The company’s willingness to shift gears and provide assistance in producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin is greatly appreciated!”

Award winners included employers, workers, Michigan Works! organizations, and partners from across the state.

“The dedication the employees of JFP showed to doing whatever it takes to help those in the greatest need during a crisis is something to be applauded,” said state Rep. Greg Markkanen (R-Hancock). “JFP is an important company in our community and we truly appreciate their willingness to pitch in whatever way needed when times get tough.”

The Michigan Works! Association is a non-profit membership organization that provides services and support to Michigan’s talent eco-system. For over 30 years, the Association has been the go-to resource for federal, state and local workforce initiatives.

The Association’s work ensures top-quality services and support for Michigan’s talent pipeline. For more information, please visit michiganworks.org.

Find the nearest Michigan Works! American Job Center by visiting https://www.michiganworks.org/michigan-works-network or by calling (1-800) 285-WORKS (9675).