Michigan Works! closes central office, opens three new locations

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — Michigan Works! will be expanding to three locations in Cass County. The central office in Dowagiac will close as the expansion takes a different direction.

With the closure, Michigan Works! announced three locations throughout the Cass, Berrien and Van Buren county areas.

In Niles, Michigan Works! has expanded, and currently provides its services at the Southwestern Michigan College Administration building, at 3890 U.S. 12 in Niles. Coming soon will be a location at the Cass County Department of Health and Human Services building, located at 325 M.62, in Cassopolis, and the Dowagiac Public Library, located at 211 Commercial St. in Dowagiac.

The organization which helps connect people to employment opportunities, education and guidance in changing careers, has seen its role shift before and through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe these sites will give us a better opportunity to reach and serve more individuals residing in different areas,” said Lily Brewer, executive director of Michigan Works! Berrien, Cass, Van Buren. “The one central location was great for northern Cass residents, but has certain access challenges for other parts of the county.”

The expansion of locations comes after Michigan Works! tried out remote service delivery in the summer of 2019.

“We learned co-location with community partners strengthened the partner relationship, increased collaboration, and allowed us to serve a diverse group of individuals,” Brewer said.

During the early months of heavy COVID-19 mandates, the organization worked with Michigan Unemployment Insurance to help community members access and file for unemployment benefits.

According to Brewer, at the beginning of COVID-19 mandates, most job seekers focused on securing their livelihoods.

During the transition, as Michigan Works! awaits the opening of its two locations in Cassopolis and Dowagiac, Brewer encouraged those who wish to connect to services to do so through the Michigan Works! website.

“Michigan Works! will continue to assist individuals entering the workforce for the first time, those interested in changing careers and individuals getting back into the job market or advancing their career,” Brewer said. “We offer one on one career advising, and the necessary training resource linkages to help individuals succeed.”

On Sept. 10, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the Futures for Frontliners program in Michigan. The initiative is set to offer tuition-free paths to community college for Michigan workers deemed essential, frontline workers through the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will connect eligible workers who have not previously earned an associates or bachelor’s degree with an educational program.

“As business operations get back to a new sense of normalcy, and with the Governor’s Futures for Frontliners kick off, we hope to see an increase [of job, education seekers] in the fall,” Brewer said.

The new hours of operation at the Cassopolis and Dowagiac locations for Michigan Works! will be updated on the organization’s website as information becomes available. At the SMC Niles Administration Building location, hours are currently 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, closed for lunch 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

 

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