Benton Harbor, Michigan-Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland has been invited to present at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2017 Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada in September. Over 1,000 economic development professionals are expected to participate in this year’s event from September 17-20, 2017.

Cleveland will be part of a Rural Workforce Systems: Cultivating, Recruiting and Retaining Talent in Rural Economies panel focused on tools and resources these communities have when accessing a qualified workforce. The panel will address the uniqueness of rural workforce problems and required solutions, and share tips from communities across the globe that have proven successful in reversing the trend of decreasing populations in these areas.

Cleveland will highlight Cornerstone Alliance’s First Choice Program as a tool for talent recruitment. First Choice is a resource for Berrien County businesses to attract the best and brightest to the region. First Choice tour ambassadors showcase the area to candidates interviewing here, providing a detailed look into the community including schools, neighborhoods and other areas of interest.

“We have a very well-kept secret and it truly makes us unique,” said Cleveland. “First Choice is a world-class program and a valuable tool that Berrien County businesses use each and every day to attract new employees to our community. I am excited to share the great story behind First Choice with the international economic development community."

First Choice has been in existence for more than 15 years and plays a significant role in the recruiting process of many Berrien County businesses. Cleveland added, “Candidates are truly appreciative of the vested interest businesses have in their interviewing experience, as they factor in the many considerations that the community offers should they decide to locate here.”

The panel including Cleveland and two other economic development professionals representing southeastern Vermont and southeast Iowa will address conference attendees on Monday, September 18, 2017. This IEDC conference is the first outside of the United States and will focus on how to connect, collaborate and create at the global level to contribute to the transformation of local, state and regional economies.