As 2019 comes to a close, WIN Executive Director, Michele Economou Ureste, takes a look back at the organization’s important regional initiatives, projects, and partnerships that made this a year to remember.



Michigan Department of Transportation High-tech Workforce (NEW INITIATIVE FOR 2020)

The transportation industry is faced with emerging technology, aging infrastructure, and aging workers. The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and WIN community college (Henry Ford College, Jackson College, Macomb Community College, Monroe County Community College, Mott Community College, Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College, Washtenaw Community College, Wayne County Community College District) and Michigan Works! Agencies (Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, GST Michigan Works!, Oakland County Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair, Michigan Works! Southeast, and SEMCA Michigan Works!) are partnered to develop a high-tech workforce strategy for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). A grant agreement was awarded for October 1, 2019 through June 15, 2021. Project goals include: 1) Conducting research on transformative technologies and associated implementation strategies; 2) Identifying the skills gap within MDOT’s current construction and operation workforce; and 3) Developing training and recruitment strategies for the current and future workforce. The project is being led by the WIN Executive Director, Michele Economou Ureste, with support from Tim Johnston, Michelle Wein, Melissa Sheldon, Karley Thurston, and Deja Torrence.

Southeast Michigan Healthcare Collaborative (SEMHC – NEW INITIATIVE FOR 2020) 

In the fourth quarter of 2019, WIN began co-convening a Southeast Michigan Healthcare Collaborative (SEMHC) with the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The employer-led Southeast Michigan Healthcare Collaborative is focused on Prosperity Region 9 (Livingston, Lenawee, Monroe, Hillsdale, Jackson and Washtenaw counties) and 10 (Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties). This initiative uses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Talent Pipeline Management methodology to identify common skills needs and apply supply chain management principles to talent.

The WIN workforce agencies (Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, GST Michigan Works!, Oakland County Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! Macomb/St. Clair, Michigan Works! Southeast, and SEMCA Michigan Works!), WIN community colleges (Henry Ford College, Jackson College, Macomb Community College, Monroe County Community College, Mott Community College, Oakland Community College, Schoolcraft College, Washtenaw Community College, Wayne County Community College District), healthcare employers and other partners are systematically creating a talent pipeline for Medical Assistants and Sterile Processing Technicians. This project is being led by Sarah Sebaly Gregory, the WIN director of talent development and Michele Economou Ureste.

Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI) 

In 2019, AMCAI Received Notable Recognition as a Top 15 Performing American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) Grantee by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices

The Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (AMCAI) is an apprenticeship hub developed through the support of a $4 million U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) American Apprenticeship Initiative grant to expand apprenticeship activity in 37 Michigan counties from 2015-2020. The AMCAI partnership is comprised of subrecipients – Henry Ford College, Lansing Community College, Mid Michigan College, Oakland Community College, and Schoolcraft College, Jackson College, and Macomb Community College – along with many local and regional corporate, educational, and workforce and economic development partners. This project includes Michele Economou Ureste, Kinsey Mantay, Janene Erne, Danielle Bachman, Vanessa Bell, John Sullivan, and Imad Mourad. On January 9, 2020 two AMCAI representatives will be sent to D.C. to be recognized as a Top 15 American Apprenticeship Initiative (AAI) grantee and share best practices that will be documented.

In 2019, AMCAI partners exceeded all numerical performance outcomes required by the DOL, nearly one year ahead of schedule. Partners registered approximately 200 new apprentices in a range of high-demand H1-B occupations, served over 1,200 participants, and engaged with almost 100 new employers during 2019, increasing totals to over 600 registered apprentices, nearly 2,200 participants served, and engagement of over 400 new employers since the inception of the grant.

Additionally, AMCAI staff continued to grow its intermediary program, providing logistical support and serving as the standards holder to over twenty employers as they develop and implement apprenticeship programs, at no cost to them. AMCAI staff serve as a liaison between employers and the DOL to ensure an apprenticeship program is properly registered and meets all federal guidelines. Staff also announced the creation of, a site that open sources competency-based apprenticeship standards to help facilitate the creation of apprenticeship programs. The site is expected to go live in early 2020. With Oakland Community College as the lead applicant, a US DOL Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap $4 million regional grant was submitted in late September 2019. Notification will be made between now and February 2020.


The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation approved a revised two-year $1.5 million budget to develop a high-tech workforce in the Southeast Michigan region using the US DOL approved Apprenti model. The revision includes hiring a Business Development Manager with C-level experience in the IT ecosystem in the first quarter of 2020.

In 2019, three apprentices began their on-the-job training with FEV North America, with two apprentices being trained in Software Development and one in Cyber Security Analysis. Information sessions were held at Oakland Community College on November 19, 2019. Representatives from several employers were in attendance, most notably, Ford, Smartbus, and the Marposs Corporation. The ExperienceIT collaborative is interested in the Apprenti program to train up to 20 apprentices in the first quarter of 2020. Employers that are part of the collaborative include OneMagnify, Quicken Loans, Blue Cross Blue Shield, GalaxE.Solutions, and Amrock. Standards are in development for a CRM apprenticeship under Apprenti. These standards will cover occupations such as Salesforce Developer, Adobe Experience Manager, and Adobe Campaign Developer. This project is led by John Sullivan and Imad Mourad.

America’s Promise (CATALYST)

Advance Michigan Catalyst is a $6 million federal America’s Promise grant which aims to provide robotics and automated related training in the region from 2017 – 2020. Michigan Works! Association (MWA) partners have served over 300 participants in 2019 alone, bringing the total number of participants served to nearly 650 to date. In addition to classroom training, services include individual assessments, case management, supportive services, and employment placement. Of the almost 400 individuals that have completed training, just over 300 have obtained employment. We are hailed as a grantee with a number of best practices under this project, and many of our staff and partners have participated in national webinars. This project is led by Melissa Sheldon and Danielle Bachman.

Department of Defense (PROJECTS CONCLUDED JULY 31, 2019)

In 2019, WIN concluded two grants from the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment after completing efforts to provide immediate and sustained assistance to firms and workers in southeast Michigan affected by reduced DOD procurement, with both awards totaling nearly $9 million. From 2015-2019, WIN worked alongside Macomb/St. Clair Workforce Development Board, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Defense Center, Merit Network, and numerous partners and contractors to support resiliency and capacity in connected and autonomous vehicles, lightweight materials, and information technology.

Notable deliverables include, but are not limited to:

  • A Cybersecurity Skills Gap Analysis, conducted to better understand future workforce demands,
  • CAR’s Strategic Plan, which explores best how to align assets and efforts related to connected and autonomous vehicles,
  • Merit’s two cyber range hubs, used for cybersecurity testing, education, and training;
  • Enhancements to the Michigan Defense Center’s Bid Targeting System, and
  • Implementation of MAGMA’s efforts to review and expand membership, collaborate with stakeholders and develop short-courses.



In 2013, WIN collaborated with K-12 education partners and industry to launch the MI Bright Future system. As Michigan transforms its economy to meet 21st century needs, it has become more important than ever to remove barriers between the state’s educational system and professional industries. MI Bright Future is a web-based system that addresses talent needs through a free and easy-to-use online system connecting employers directly with their future workforce of students. In 2019, MI Bright Future was reaching over 150,000 students in 16 counties, connecting them with 750 companies, 1,317 professionals acting as Career Coaches, and 5,328 career exploration activities.

This work would not have been possible without the help and support of all our important partners including local Michigan Works! Agencies, community-driven talent consortiums, community colleges, and school districts in Eaton, Ingham, Jackson, Kent, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Muskegon, Oakland, Saginaw, St. Clair, and Wayne counties.

In 2019, WIN transitioned the MI Bright Future program to be maintained by their local community. School districts and the software provider for the program will work together to provide access to students and counselors and maintain the system, while the Michigan Works! Agencies have been engaged to support business outreach and recruitment. These activities will allow for the connections between students and employers in the system to continue to occur. WIN looks forward to the continued success of the MI Bright Future program.



The WIN data and research team in 2019 released several studies designed to provide various stakeholders with local intel related to employee turnover, a network map to support job seekers with multiple barriers to work, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, in-demand career profiles, and more. Melissa Sheldon, Michelle Wein, Karley Thurston, and Deja Torrence consistently produce high-quality results that directly support the foundation of WIN’s mission.

Highlights from the team’s accomplishments in 2019 are as follows:

Supporting Job Seekers Facing Multiple Barriers to Work: On behalf of the McGregor Fund, the team completed this work related to workforce assets in the City of Detroit. The conclusions presented in this report emerged as overarching themes throughout WIN’s research, supported by a combination of statistically significant evidence in literature, clear patterns within funding data, consistent survey responses, and a workforce network analysis. Each of the key themes speaks to a demand for greater connection and integration centered around the job seekers, whether between the workforce, education, and social service systems or within the Detroit workforce service network itself and also affirms the focus and findings of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation’s (DESC) workforce system redesign efforts. WIN research and outcomes are consistent with DESC’s increased emphasis on poverty reduction and encouraging financial stability for Detroiters.

Community of Opportunity, A Scan of Entrepreneurship Support Assets in Southeast Michigan: With funding from the William Davidson Foundation, WIN conducted the social network analysis portion of this New Economy Initiative (NEI) report that was released in June 2019. According to NEI, the report identifies more than 225 resources available to southeast Michigan residents looking to start or grow businesses and provides new insights about how those resources function as a regional network.

Employee Turnover Study: In early 2019, six Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs) contracted with WIN’s data and research team to examine employee turnover in the 16-county region that makes up their service area. This work is intended to provide the MWAs with a comprehensive understanding of the root causes of employee turnover and the potential gaps that exist in the development of career pathways for those with barriers to employment. Information gathered from a region-wide employer survey, convenings of local employers, and national best practice research is included in this report.

The results of the employer survey represent a unique data source for our region, as this information is not currently tracked or reported by federal, state, or local entities. The information about the challenges and opportunities within our region is intended to assist MWAs in better serving employers and workers. In particular, the key findings identified in this report will help to inform the resources aimed at reducing employee turnover.

WIN Labor Market Reports: Q1, Q2, and Q3 2019 labor market reports were released and the online report archive was simplified for users.

WIN Career Profiles: The team has created data snapshots of specific occupations that provide information about wages, employment projections, and recent job postings. The career snapshots are intended to be used in workforce planning, career counseling, and program development.

Custom Data Requests: In 2019, the team completed nearly 160 data requests, answering questions and providing valuable analysis to over 35 partners.

Other notable projects completed in 2019 by the data and research team include a youth poverty and employment brief for Neutral Zone, completion of the first phase of work on the emerging technology study for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, an employer survey focused on hard to fill jobs for Michigan Works! Southeast, delivery of program-related occupation snapshots for both Lenawee and Macomb Intermediate School Districts, a talent profile report for the Enterprise Group, two separate culinary arts and hospitality management-related reports for Henry Ford College, and a detailed report on bus driver and mechanic demand, compensation, and competing industries for the Regional Transit Authority.

WIN would like to extend special thanks to the McGregor Fund, the William Davidson Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Detroit Employment Solutions, GST Michigan Works!, Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works!, Oakland County Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! Southeast, SEMCA Michigan Works!, and many more for making the studies completed in 2019 possible.



MAGMA (Michigan Alliance for Greater Mobility Advancement)

The State of Michigan award a Michigan Industry Cluster Initiative (MICA 2.0) grant to support the MAGMA Governing Board and Advisory Council work which is building momentum consistent with the mobility movement. This regional initiative is led by Michelle Wein, and she has a strong support team which includes Karista Gallick and Imad Mourad. In 2019, ZF North America, Inc. joined the MAGMA Governing Board. In the third quarter, U.S. Senator Gary Peters met with Governing Board members. In the fourth quarter of 2019, an RFP for short course providers resulted in a substantial amount of proposals that are in review. An Advisory Council meeting was held in December at the MDOT SEMTOC center in Detroit. Speakers include Paul Ajegba (Director of MDOT), Michele Mueller (Senior Project Manager, CAV, MDOT) and Roy Goudy (Senior Principal Engineer, V2X Comms, Nissan). The first Governing Board meeting in January 2020 will focus on MAGMA sustainability and growth and a potential asset mapping project to be funded by the Davidson Foundation. An additional session on the popular AMT program from Toyota will also be conducted after the governing board meeting. MAGMA held an Advisory Council meeting at Toyota Motor North America which featured senior leaders from Toyota, who gave presentations on talent pipeline programs utilized by Toyota, and innovative opportunities for partnership in CAV work.

A MAGMA Governing Board meeting was held in October at FCA where ZF attended their first meeting and were welcomed to the team. A new short course on Generational Talent Succession was discussed, along with the desire to perform asset mapping on the training programs available to mobility companies in Southeast Michigan.


A 2019 cohort is graduating with 30 students who had the option to select an Adobe or Java program concentration based on their initial research subject. ExpIT employers are moving toward Apprenti after this cohort.



Three WIN Board Members Turned Over in 2019 and WIN Provides Service Recognition to Nicole Sherard-Freeman, DESC, Doug Smith, Oakland Community College, and Michelle Mueller, Washtenaw Community College


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