5285 W. US 223, Adrian, MI 49221


Align—Changing the Way People View Skilled Trades

Align is a program that Lenawee Now, as an economic development agency, has created to clarify the misconceptions that students and parents have about manufacturing. Lenawee Now works with the county’s school systems and businesses to keep Align top of mind for the people of Lenawee.

Lenawee Now Directors Jim Van Doren and Tim Robinson have developed strong relationships with Lenawee County school superintendents, the Intermediate School District, and the Center for Science and Industry. These groups have been able to effectively collaborate with each other and build a strong talent pool within the county. “We came together with major manufacturers, and collectively put together the Align program for Lenawee County, which is moving into the internet-based, ‘MI Bright Future’ system,” explained Jim Van Doren, Executive Director at Lenawee Now. This system will allow students, companies, and parents to interact and communicate about available jobs in Lenawee County, as well as provide details on any required skills.


Acknowledgement Beyond Michigan

The success of the Align program is being proven through the interest and recognition of out of state companies, “They want us to explain what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The gist of the Align talent system is that we’re building it ourselves,” said Tim Robinson, Director of Operations at Lenawee Now. “We aren’t waiting for someone from D.C. or Lansing to come save us, we’re solving our problems ourselves, and people are extremely interested in that story.”


Recently, the Governor of Michigan recognized the attention of Align through his Regional Prosperity Initiative. “We were asked to present an application for a grant to build that system throughout the Greater Ann Arbor Region,” Jim explained. Lenawee County will be working closely with all counties in the region (Washtenaw County, Livingston County, Jackson County, Monroe County, Hillsdale County) to shape the system. “Sharing best practices and nuances throughout a regionalized talent pool will give us greater access to more companies and jobs entering the area,” added Jim.


The Align program has been a major success since its development. Lenawee County, along with the entire Greater Ann Arbor Region, are thrilled to be working toward making the manufacturing talent pool one to be nationally recognized.