Hot job opportunities driving people to Blue Water region

Casey Freeland moved back to the Port Huron region after going away to college.
It may be surprising to hear but 45 percent of employers around the world are enduring difficulty filling roles in the job market today.


The statistic includes the Blue Water area which prompted the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance (EDA) to take a proactive approach and launch a Talent Attraction Initiative last June.


Marketing Manager Tina Frazer says the EDA’s goal is to attract new talent to the region, encourage current daily commuters or long-distance commuters to stop nearby and to encourage former residents (college students and families) to return home.


Since the EDA website launched its talent section the Hot Jobs page has garnered 6,000 page- views with most checking out the hot jobs and the meet our local talent pages. Some 72 percent of the traffic is from Michigan including Port Huron, Ann Arbor and Detroit while other frequent visits came from Ohio, Massachusetts, Tennessee, New York and Illinois.


The Hot Jobs page offers eight categories listing career opportunities in Health Care,

Manufacturing, Skilled Trades, Professional/Business Services, Retail/Services, IT/Technology

Transportation/Logistics and Engineering. The openings are listed individually with a job title, company, job description, location and a link to apply.


As additional incentives for candidates, Frazer says The Community Foundation has created two scholarships to assist in luring talent back to the region while also developing local talent. Links to both of these incentive programs are prominently featured at the top of the Hot Jobs page.


Today, Frazer said finding engineering talent to fill employment needs seems to be the most challenging task. When asked who the target candidates are for their jobs page, Frazer says anyone that meets the qualifications listed, doesn’t mean they have to be college grads or heavily experienced.


Skilled trades sorely needed


Domtar Corp. is finding it difficult to recruit candidates for skilled trades positions, likeLooking for a great new job? Check out the hot jobs website

Millwrights and Electricians, at their Paper Mill location in Port Huron, according to Human Resource Manager Tracie Thomes.


She says the Port Huron mill opened in 1988, with several different name changes and owners throughout the years and "being close to Canada is a plus, as a lot of our pulp comes from Canada," Thomes says.

As the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America, Domtar distributes a wide range of paper products for a variety of customers, ranging from retail consumers to publishers and employs 10,000 people worldwide


Asked what the company does to attract new talent Thomes says, "You name it we try it – we are always looking for different ways to attract talent."


Working locally makes a splash


When Casey Freeland glances out her office window at Chemical Bank in downtown Port Huron the Seventh Street Bridge looms large above the Black River and on any fall morning she may see a sailboat making its way beneath the bridge.


It’s a view this St. Clair County native certainly wouldn’t trade. As the current vice president and

manager of wealth and operations for the bank, Freeland is certain launching her career in her hometown was a great decision.


"When I was away at college I realized how much I really take the water here for granted and Canada is just across the bridge so it's been a good fit for me and a good place to raise a family," Freeland, the mother of two boys, says.


A St. Clair resident, Freeland says the fact that the county isn't too large or too small, but rather a perfect fit for families seeking lots to do while still living in close-knit communities, really works.

In fact, the amenities offered in the area have been putting a positive spin on things for local firms trying to draw talent to the county. Freeland says she's experienced the upswing first hand as Chemical Bank has recently posted openings in Midland and Port Huron and the latter spot is winning out.


"When we moved our headquarters for the bank to Detroit we found we are now able to pull in talent from institutions all over Matt Pettinato, 24, moved from Pennsylvania for a job at Domtar Corp.because they look and see how close Port Huron is to Detroit," Freeland says.


Matt Pettinato, 24, would certainly agree. He was hired as a mechanical engineer at Domtar Paper Mill inPort Huron last fall and being in close proximity to Detroit’s major sports teams was a big perk.


"I'm a big sports guys and I looked at the area here and it seemed like a nice place and I was blown away by the water and the Blue Water Bridge," Pettinato, who grew up in Pennsylvania, says. "It's five hours to the nearest beach back home and so when I felt that breeze come over the water here I was sold."


The idea of leaving his parents, older sister and twin brother behind for Michigan was met with

skepticism by his college buddies, but Pettinato felt it was important to take up the challenge and move out of his own comfort zone.


He hasn't been disappointed. Meeting a crew of young career professionals on the job, joining both golf and bowling leagues and spending time on the water this summer has been great.


So far, his parents have visited him in the city and most recently his brother and an old friend from his neighborhood traveled to Michigan and attended a Detroit Lions game with Pettinato.


The enthusiastic sports fan didn't say whether the blue team won the game, but he knows his career move that brought him to St. Clair County has been a victory.


What’s next on talent initiative list


Domtar Corp. is currently looking for skilled workers.As the launch of Phase One of the EDA's talent initiative remains strong Frazer says Phase Two will include gathering data from area companies along with success stories on new recruits made possible by their efforts.


As that takes hold and the holiday season rolls in the EDA be working with the Blue Water Young Professionals and other local partners on a Holiday Homecoming campaign for November and December.


"Hometown visits may stir up feelings about returning home and being closer to family and a great time to market Hot Jobs and all the wonderful new developments in the area," Frazer says.


Additional details about both the programs will be shared soon.


Check out these hot jobs:


McLaren Port Huron Hospital is seeking a patient registration supervisor. The ideal candidate will have an associate degree in related field, or enrolled with an approved education plan; Certified Healthcare Access Professional (CHAA) preferred; five years in area of specialty; leadership skills, Microsoft application skills, problem solving skills, effective verbal and written communication for staff, management and customers. Positive customer relations, self motivation and personal accountability. Interested candidates can apply online.


US Farathane has several openings to fill, including a manufacturing manager. This role is the supervisor over shift supervisors, production employees, process engineer, and maintenance and tool room. The ideal candidate will be able to assign responsibility and follow up on corrective action to any problems related to the production process to achieve 95 percent plant efficiency and 85 percent OEE. Publish and distribute monthly action plans to improve. This must include all budget expectation. If this job sounds like a match, send a resume to or apply here.

PTM Corp. has an immediate opening for a laser technician programmer/operator with preferred Mitsubishi 5- axis experience. Mitsubishi 5- Axis Laser technician would ideally hold the ability to set up, digitize and make changes from teach box. Knowledge and experience to edit cut codes, perform minimal laser maintenance, beam alignments, and lens cleaning. Minimum of three years experience a must. Reliable transportation and good attendance is required. Apply here.