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ReThink West Michigan brings talent home to West Michigan

The annual ReThink Michigan networking event connects employers with western Michigan natives to bring them back home.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Why not spend the first few hours networking during one of the biggest bar nights of the year?

“That’s why we’re doing it the night before Thanksgiving,” said Rachel Gray, executive director of Hello West Michigan. “People come to us. They come home to see their families if they still have connections here.”

Hello West Michigan is a non-profit organization that helps people relocate to the West Michigan area.

“When we help candidates relocate, we not only help them with job connections, but also with resources about the area,” Gray said. “What do you want to know when you move to a new place. Also links to services, to agents, to moving partners.”

The 11th annual ReThink West Michigan networking trade show is designed to bring together recruiters from some of West Michigan’s largest companies with people looking for new opportunities while they’re home for the holidays.

“Over the 11 years, we’ve probably had thousands of candidates that have gone through this event and at least 80 that we know have been hired,” Gray said. “And people don’t always tell us. We have people for whom this is really the beginning of their journey into what could very well be a new trajectory in their lives.”

Some, like John Schneider, who works at Meijer Corporate, found this new path in 2013.

“My wife and I lived in Chicago, we were born and raised in Grand Rapids and we wanted to relocate with our family, so we heard about this event and came and found a job through this event,” Schneider said. “I made a connection, followed that connection, it was actually with Amway, another great and local company in Grand Rapids.”

Schneider, who is now recruiting across the table for Meijer, is helping others find their start in the communities where they grew up.

“It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Schneider. “Like I said, my wife and I grew up here, we love the community, we had friends who either stayed or came back, and I’m fortunate to have worked for two legendary family businesses in Grand Rapids that have been amazing Impact on our society.”

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