Talent attraction program exceeds goals

Posted on October 13, 2016

Michigan’s first foundation led talent attraction program has exceeded its goals in its first year. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has chosen David and Lindsay LaBelle of Novi, as the fourth recipient in the new Reverse Scholarship Program.  They will receive a $10,000 award toward their college debt to move back to St. Clair County to live and work.

“We’re extremely happy to see the first year of this new program exceed our expectations,” said Hale Walker, chair of the foundation’s selection committee and co-owner of Michigan Mutual Inc.  “Small communities like ours need talented, educated professionals to move back home, and our innovative approach to addressing student debt as a talent attraction incentive is paying off.”

David LaBelle has taken a position as registered nurse at McLaren Port Huron Hospital, and his wife Lindsay is an Optometrist at OptimEyes in Fort Gratiot. They join three earlier recipients chosen by the Community Foundation in the first round of awards:

  • Mural Darling moved back from Raleigh, North Carolina to become a veterinarian in Port Huron
  • Chelsea Beeler-Khabbaz is a medical laboratory scientist at McLaren Port Huron Hospital
  • Erin Lamb is a certified speech language pathologist at Lake Huron Medical Center

  • Walker said the foundation’s talent attraction program was a result of a larger regional recognition that the lack of college graduates is holding back economic growth and prosperity throughout Michigan’s Thumb Region. 

    “Through our economic development organizations, and our Blue Meets Green regional initiative, we know that our region must do more to attract motivated and ambitious college graduates back to St. Clair County,” he said.

    Randy Maiers, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, said, “With support of the Council of Michigan Foundations and other partnering community foundations in Michigan, we’re the first community foundation in America to implement this kind of talent attraction program.  It’s essentially a back-end scholarship with a strong community prosperity focus and intent.”

    Maiers added that the number and quality of applications for the award program exceeded the foundation’s expectations and budget.  “We only had $30,000 to start the program,” Maiers said.  “The strong interest and quality of these first four recipients means we can now talk to our donors and partners about growing this program to $100,000 or more annually.”


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