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Chamber Blog

Grand Rapids Chamber Selected as Business Leaders United State Lead

Chamber spearheads statewide coalition focused on first-of-its-kind childcare pilot

Grand Rapids, Michigan – The Grand Rapids Chamber has been selected to continue as the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) lead for the state of Michigan. An initiative through the National Skills Coalition, BLU is a platform for employers across the country who are concerned about our nation’s skills gap. BLU focuses on effective industry-based strategies to advance our national skills policy agenda. Michigan is one of 15 participating states.

“As the BLU lead for Michigan, we are addressing a top concern for job providers, the workforce shortage, and nurturing a homegrown talent pipeline,” said Rick Baker, President, and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. “By partnering with BLU, we are tapping into best practices from around the nation to tackle the skills gap which is costing employers of all sizes time and resources.”

Since being awarded to lead BLU in 2019, the Grand Rapids Chamber brought together a statewide coalition to solve the complex issue of creating access to affordable, high-quality childcare. The coalition developed a first-of-its-kind, tri-share pilot program that was successfully adopted into the 2021 State Budget thanks to leadership from Representative Greg VanWoerkom and Senator Curt Vanderwall. The pilot program aims to reduce the cost burden of childcare by splitting costs between family, government, and employers. The statewide coalition is comprised of business organizations, key state leaders, legislators, research, and children advocacy groups.

“The Grand Rapids Chamber has long viewed childcare as both an early childhood and labor force participation issue. The pandemic has only exacerbated access and cost issues. When parents have a safe, affordable, and reliable childcare facility for their children, they can enter the workforce and advance their careers.” said Alexa Kramer, Director of Government Affairs at the Grand Rapids Chamber. “The coalition has done tremendous work in just over a year developing the pilot program and we look forward to putting Michigan on the map as a leader in childcare policy and innovation.”

The Grand Rapids Chamber will continue its work into 2021 and implement a successful pilot program with the help of the statewide coalition, Business Leaders United, and the National Skills Coalition.

Tri-share pilot highlights:

  • Three pilot programs in a rural, urban and suburban setting
  • Splits the cost of childcare between state, families, and businesses
  • Families, businesses, and providers would work with a Facilitator Hub that can identify supply from the provider side and demand from businesses. Facilitator Hubs will also be the fiduciary and administrative arm
  • Businesses elect to be in this pilot
  • Childcare becomes more affordable for families, allowing parents to climb the economic ladder

 Benefits for business:

  • Employers are, now more than ever, aware that childcare is a barrier to employment
  • Employers can opt-into this hub that allows employers to invest and retain their talent
  • During these uncertain times, business owners know that being a part of this hub gives their employees peace of mind and their business stability.

 Benefits for providers:

  • Our childcare industry has taken a hit. Being a part of the pilot gives providers access to the facilitator hub that provides administrative support to navigate these uncertain times.
  • Working directly with local employers provides long-term security.

 Benefits for families:

  • Employees see their childcare bill reduced, allowing them to better provide for their families and/or enter the workforce at a price point that works better for their family’s pocket.
  • Employer engagement and the facilitator hub takes some of the guesswork out of searching for a reliable childcare facility.
  • Long term, business engagement will demand higher quality facilities for their employees, leading to an increased level of care

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