Ones to Watch 2013: Amy Cell's priorities for MEDC in 2013: Jobs, jobs and more jobs
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Cell, one of AnnArbor.com’s Ones to Watch in 2013, oversees the MEDC’s talent enhancement program that is designed to help Michiganders either find jobs that match their skill set or develop new skills to qualify for available jobs.
“The governor and the MEDC are committed to talent development and filling the skills gap,” she said.
“We want to make sure that young people that graduate from our colleges and high schools have the opportunity to get a good job here in Michigan.”
Since joining the MEDC in 2011, Cell has helped run programs such as Live Work Launch in Detroit and Grand Rapids, which aim to keep entrepreneurial graduating college students in the state by providing access to venture capital, mentors, and incubator space.
She also helps oversee the Shifting Gears program that helps highly educated, mid-to-late career displaced workers re-train themselves for jobs in Michigan.
Cell’s newest project is targets high-school seniors who are interested in manufacturing.
“It [manufacturing] is really the core of Michigan’s economy,” she said.
“ A lot of people don’t want to go into manufacturing these days because they’ve seen their parents get laid off, so they think it’s unstable, or they think it’s a ‘dirty’ profession. The truth is there’s a big need for it and the jobs are very different.”
Closing the gap between the skills employers need and those students are taught will also be a focus of two conferences that will be hosted by the state government in the spring of 2013. Cell is on the planning committee for the economic development talent summit March.
“The goal is to identify as much as possible what are the skills that are in demand by employers, so it can feed into how we can solve the problem of making sure those skills are taught,” she said.
“For years there has been a governor’s education summit in April, so we’re trying to have the output from this March session feed into the April one.”
The March conference will have a focus on regional collaboration, which Cell said will help employers focus on the issues that are most pressing to them.
“A lot of the problems we have are regional,” she said.
“What’s a priority for one region of the state might not be for another, but once it's solved in one region we can take the solution they find to help others.”
In Southeast Michigan, Cell expects to see increased connectivity between Ann Arbor and Detroit in 2013.
“It opens up the talent pool to the area immensely because you have more people who will be willing to come as you increase the high-tech job density,” she said.
“Especially in the tech world, people don’t just move for one job because they know their companies might have a short life span and people just tend to move around a lot. If people see there’s 100 companies in Ann Arbor I could work for and 100 companies in Detroit, then it’s a no-brainer to move to the region.”
As Dan Gilbert continues to invest in making Detroit a high-tech hub, Cell sees the energy developing there also rubbing off on Ann Arbor’s growing startup scene.
“People able to find people you can learn from and keeping the brainflow going back and forth between the two communities will have a good impact on Ann Arbor,” she said.
“When I was doing economic development in Ann Arbor, we would always be very supportive of Detroit because we knew that if Detroit was doing better, Ann Arbor was going to be better.”