Oceana Lakeshore Employer Resource Network

The Oceana Lakeshore Employer Resource Network (ERN) is a network of local employers who come together to respond to issues like turnover, productivity, training, and employer retention. Created in 2016, the ERN continues to work with Oceana County’s workforce to mutually support each other’s success. The Foundation provided leadership in convening partners to form the ERN, assisted with developing a 2-year co-funding strategy to help initial member costs, and provided seed grant funding. The ERN strives to improve communities by supporting local employers in retaining an engaged, skilled workforce. They additionally support nonprofits and their programs’ outcomes to advance community economic independence.

Network members include:  

  • Arbre Farms,  
  • Country Dairy,  
  • Oceana County Medical Care,  
  • Michigan Freezepack 
  • Peterson Farms,  
  • Shelby State Bank, and  

Strategic partners include: 

  • ERN-Michigan,  
  • Community Foundation for Oceana County, 
  • Michigan Career Technical Institute
  • Michigan Department of Health & Human Services
  • MI Works! West Central
  • Oceana Hispanic Center, 
  • United Way of the Lakeshore-Oceana  
  • Great Lakes Energy People’s Fund & Pennies From Heaven Foundation were provides start-up funding.

The heart of the ERN model is onsite, confidential Success Coaching that employees can access on a predictable, ongoing basis. No more wasted hours in social services offices; Success Coaches offer direct connection and access to community resources. Employees who face a crisis from lack of resources can get immediate, personal relief, onsite. Services are available to all employees in the member companies. Success Coaches accommodate all shifts with off-site locations and alternate meeting times available upon request. Oceana’s success coach is bilingual and is contracted via the Oceana Hispanic Center.

Another ERN service is the Bridge Loan program, which allows the coach to connect clients to fair and reputable lending. These loans help clients overcome financial burdens that may be negatively impacting their life including auto repairs, credit repair, payday lending traps, appliance purchases, debt, and family emergencies. The loan program also includes a savings component of $10 per week into a savings account, not accessible until the loan is paid in full. Upon pay-off, the client is encouraged to continue the habit of savings. Shelby State Bank services the Bridge Loan program at  supportive  interest rates.

Oceana’s ERN successfully initiated a pilot manufacturing training program in 2016, in collaboration with Michigan Career & Technical Institute (MCTI). This program helped to fill the skill gaps of several job-seekers to achieve full-time competitive employment in the food processing sector. Based on that success, the Foundation assisted MCTI in forming a task force of food processing manufacturers to identify relevant training programs, including curriculum offered by the Canadian Food Processors Institute, to be used for the Registered Apprenticeship Program and a future School-to-Registered Apprenticeship. These programs will help to fill the skilled labor need in Oceana County and provide career-laddering opportunities for students and current workers. Through this process, the first ever food processing registered apprenticeship program with the Department of Labor was established. A big win for Oceana and for the nation. In August of 2019, five incumbent workers at Peterson Farms started in the one-year certification program.

You can help the Foundation lead initiatives like the ERN by supporting our Administrative Fund here.


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