As laid out in the 2021-2023 strategic plan, each of the Group’s four divisions is guided by a strategic organizational goal—all influencing the economic drivers of business, talent, and place.
The Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance seeks to grow, retain, and attract businesses to Genesee County by connecting them to resources needed to advance prosperity of residents. The Flint & Genesee Chamber supports individual and collective success of small businesses in Flint & Genesee to build a stronger local economy. Flint & Genesee Education & Talent promotes lifelong educational and economic empowerment of Flint & Genesee residents by reducing barriers to high-quality, out-of-school-time spaces and local workforce training programs. Explore Flint & Genesee works to increase tourism and drive economic impact in the region through strategic marketing, public relations, and sales.
The collective work of the divisions is complemented by Group-wide initiatives that offer a holistic approach to community impact. In 2022, new opportunities for internal collaboration surfaced across the board.
When the City of Flint, Genesee County, and Flint & Genesee Group came together in 2019 to identify a community-owned vision for economic vitality, the result was the following statement: “In 2040, Genesee County is a top-five community in Michigan based on jobs, talent, livability, and equity.” Since then, the Group has adopted the Forward Together vision statement as its own and aligned strategic efforts accordingly.
Using Forward Together’s key indicators as guideposts, significant work was done in 2022 to understand community rankings and analyze economic changes. Findings from internal research were shared with stakeholders, including the Forward Together steering committee, municipal partners, community groups, and local businesses. This shared look at economic figures led to further investigation and plans for additional data monitoring and reporting—essential resources for the collective work of advancing economic prosperity in Genesee County.
Forward Together’s progress is measured across five key indicators: Average wages, net in-migration, educational attainment, GDP growth rate, and family poverty rate. While the Flint & Genesee Group cannot directly influence all five of these indicators, this data is informing work and programming design.
In 2022, Forward Together data showed that Genesee County ranked 78th out of Michigan’s 83 counties for net in-migration, meaning that people are leaving the community more than they are moving here. At the same time, employers in Genesee County and nationwide are facing staff shortages and increased competition for vital talent. With this in mind, the Group committed to exploring solutions in 2022. Discovery meetings brought together employers, stakeholders, and residents throughout the community. Research uncovered best practices for talent attraction from across the country and helped to identify new target audiences for upcoming campaigns. Learning from the last year will inform new projects and partnerships into the future.
While the Group set its sights on attracting new talent to Genesee County, important efforts continued toward the retention of the excellent talent already here. More than 100 local businesses participated in workshops and training opportunities. The Group’s leadership development program, Lead Now graduated a new class of leaders ready to make an impact. The Flintern program grew with its first in-person experience for 23 Genesee County interns, helping college students get immersed in Flint & Genesee during their summer internships while making important connections with local employers.
What’s more, the Group unveiled its first-ever 40 Under 40 recognition program, created to shine a spotlight on the county’s dynamic young talent under the age of 40. Celebrating these honorees demonstrated that the community values their efforts and recognizes the important role they play in shaping the future of Flint & Genesee.
In 2022, the Group persisted in its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), welcoming new voices in leadership and governance. Strategic changes strengthened the Group’s governance structure and were important steps toward being a more inclusive organization.
Each of the Group’s four divisions—Flint & Genesee Chamber, Flint & Genesee Economic Alliance, Flint & Genesee Education & Talent, and Explore Flint & Genesee—established new advisory committees, comprised of industry professionals with insights relevant to division objectives. The composition of these advisory committees was designed to include diversity in experience and perspective. In addition, representatives from each advisory committee were appointed to the Group’s Board of Directors to hold new permanent seats that will be reconfirmed on an annual basis.
In addition, the Group created a new leadership position to help ensure that decision-making and execution of programming reflects and respects DEI principles. The new executive director of DEI and community relations will help ensure that the Group remains focused on the successful implementation of the DEI strategic plan, which is organized into four categories: employment practices, policies and culture, supplier diversity, and community engagement and influence.