Archive for May, 2010

The West Michigan Strategic Alliance has named Jessica Materson project manager of its Literacy to Work Initiative.

Materson has a master’s of social work (MSW) degree from Grand Valley State University. She interned with Ottawa County Michigan Works!, where she was involved with the Adult Learner Providers of West Michigan and various other adult education groups and projects. During her tenure at Ottawa County Michigan Works!, Materson worked closely with area education providers to help develop career development programs for clients using services through Michigan Works!.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity, which will allow me to continue my involvement in promoting and expanding adult education programs here in West Michigan,” Materson said.

Working closely with project partners, Literacy Center of West Michigan and Grand Rapids Community College, the West Michigan Literacy to Work Initiative will expand the Making College Accessible pilot underway in Kent County with the help of a $550,000 Walmart Foundation grant received in April 2010. Future plans include expansion into Ottawa and Muskegon counties, eventually including all eight counties in the WMSA region.

To learn more about WMSA and our project partners, please visit:

Literacy to Work Initiative

Grand Rapids Community College

Literacy Center of West Michigan


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The West Michigan region continues to gain positive national media attention. Following closely on a February USA Today story about Holland ranking high in quality of life, Grand Rapids has received two positive national stories this week.

First, a Fortune article touted Grand Rapids as a Michigan success story. The article compared the community’s vibrancy to the news of demolishing neighborhoods in Detroit. It’s an important story, because those who are looking for places to do business may overlook the whole state just because of the negative opinion they gather from the east side currently.

The next day, Grand Rapids was named the most sustainable midsize city in the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Civic Leadership Center and Siemens Corp. You can read more about that news on MLive.

While it’s exciting to get good publicity, the importance of this national attention can not be overstated. One of the primary reasons WMSA has been encouraging collaboration is that we are stronger together and can compete better as a region in the new global marketplace. While some of the stories have been specifically about Holland or Grand Rapids, such strokes benefit all of West Michigan. Businesses and families don’t only consider one city when pondering a move–they factor in the entire landscape and all the amenities.

We think a lot of the hard work of community leaders throughout West Michigan is only beginning to pay dividends. We won’t be surprised if there’s more positive attention to come to West Michigan in the months and years ahead.

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