IT Talent Development Platform Digital Lakes Relaunches in Michigan

Digital Lakes, a nonprofit business partnership designed in 2018 to provide a platform to attract, develop, and retain key talent, has relaunched with new programming and full-time leadership after a two-year hiatus.
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Abstract image Michigan map from point blue and glowing stars on
In an effort to draw and retain tech talent, Digital Lakes has relaunched with new programming and full time leadership. // Stock Photo

Digital Lakes, a nonprofit business partnership designed in 2018 to provide a platform to attract, develop, and retain key talent, has relaunched with new programming and full-time leadership after a two-year hiatus.

“We’re bringing tech professionals from across industries together with one common goal — help the future workforce understand that you can enjoy a great high tech career, right here,” says Ronia Kruse, founder and CEO of OpTech and OpTech Solutions and co-founder of Digital Lakes.

The platform was started by a group of Michigan-based chief information officers from a variety of sectors frustrated by nearly 40 percent of college graduates who studied to become IT professionals leaving Michigan for the coasts and bigger cities, mistakenly thinking that those are the only places for IT careers.

Now it seeks to serve as a cohesive regional organization tying together the regional tech community and publicly establishing Michigan as place for tech careers to thrive.

As IT hubs are continuing successfully around the country, Digital Lakes is partnering with corporations and organizations, squarely focused on competing with other regions by elevating existing programs that have been formed in recent years to grow high-tech talent, while filling gaps that can help keep professional here in technology careers.

Digital Lakes has formed an advisory board that will meet quarterly to develop strategies, share challenges, successes, and innovations. Several key leaders from Michigan companies have already joined this group, including CIOs and key tech leaders from Ford, General Motors, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, Accenture, BHSH (Beaumont-Spectrum), and HTC.

For programming, Digital Lakes is collaborating with other organizations to highlight existing programs and create new programs where gaps currently exist. This includes helping lift efforts across the state such as the NPower apprenticeship program and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology’s Returnship program for women returning to work, while also creating a new micro-internship program like the successful model currently attracting students and companies in the Boston area, giving Digital Lakes partner companies first access to top college talent.

Some of the other Digital Lakes opportunities that will be available in the coming year include:

  • Regular educational speaker and networking events and webinars.
  • An advisory committee designed specifically for human resource executives.
  • A Young Leaders Advisory Board.
  • An annual awards presentation.

Additionally, Digital Lakes, previously a completely volunteer led and run organization, has hired Jennifer Champion as its first employee. Champion serves as director of operations and corporate partnerships after more than a decade in leadership roles at nonprofit and business-oriented organizations.

“We don’t want to be redundant. We want to be exceptionally collaborative. Recruiting and retention is taking up so much time for IT companies and IT functions within corporations that they now better understand why getting involved with Digital Lakes can help them efficiently be a part of this cause, helping their companies and the state,” says Kruse.

For more information, visit digital-lakes.org.

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