Sunday, January 3, 2016

Co-operative effort brings Flint workers to Howell area manufacturers via buses

   With the leadership of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce and help from Ann Arbor SPARK, bus transportation for Flint workers to Howell area manufacturers has begun.

   Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) began seven day a week service to Thai Summit for all three shifts, beginning on June 20. Similar service to Key Plastics will begin this Monday, July 25.

    Both manufacturers are in the McPherson Industrial Park in the City of Howell.

    Chamber President Pat Convery credits the great cooperation and working relationship between the chamber, SPARK, the MTA, Governor Snyder’s “Mission Flint” office, and Genesee-Shiawassee-Thumb Michigan Works.

    The equipment used by MTA are new, state-of-the-art, over-the-road buses. Each seats 55 passengers. Ridership to Thai Summit has been averaging 30-plus passengers on each trip and is expected to increase as word spreads of the convenience and reliability of the service.

    Each route will remain a public bus route, not a dedicated charter, and therefore anyone may ride the bus. As such, the different shift times of Thai Summit and Key Plastics will create options for employees to work overtime and still have a ride home.

    The idea of providing transportation for Flint workers in order to fill the enlarging manufacturing employment gap began in the fall of 2015. The chamber sat down with a group of area human resource professionals, all wrestling with the problem of filling jobs in their manufacturing facilities. In addition, many existing employees commuting from Flint were struggling with the long trip and the toll it was taking on their vehicles.

    With many carpools in place, if the driver became ill or the car broke down, often four people were unable to get to work. This created production problem in the facilities.

    The chamber’s suggestion to pursue expansion of Flint MTA public transportation to the Howell area was met with enthusiastic support.

    Soon after, a meeting with MTA and interested manufacturers and their staffing companies expanded this interest.

    In January, Tribar Manufacturing contracted directly with MTA for a private bus for their Flint employees. Tribar has been experiencing great growth and was concerned about filling the needed position.

    But several roadblocks prevented public service to Howell until representatives from the Governor’s Mission Flint initiative contacted Pat Convery at the chamber to see how they could help make transportation for Flint workers a reality.

    In a matter of weeks, the first bus to Thai Summit began.

The chamber is now reaching out to other large employers, including the retail community to determine need and where the system should expand to.

    Conversations are also ongoing with MTA to explore the feasibility and viability of establishing a “hub and spoke” system, where shuttles could take smaller groups of workers to other businesses and business parks throughout the county.

    “We’re delighted to take a leadership role in this initiative,” said Convery. “It’s a win-win for both communities. This area needs workers and Flint residents need jobs.”

    Businesses interested in the transportation for their employees should contact Pat Convery at the chamber at 517-546-3920 or

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