The Rapidian

GoSite helps welcome military veterans home with unique networking experience

West Michigan Veterans Coalition and the Veterans Employment Working Group from TALENT 2025 have come together to facilitate communication.
Veterans networking in the GoSite space

Veterans networking in the GoSite space /GoSite

Underwriting support from:

/GoSite

/GoSite

What does it mean when people say the GoSite is a “21st century welcome center?” That may depend on how you look at it. Or rather, where your imagination takes you when you visit the new downtown information sharing space. Designed specifically for flexibility, community engagement and creative conversations, the space presents opportunities for collaboration in very imaginative ways.

Wheels start to turn once people step inside and have a look around. Yes, it’s a dynamic information center, but what if…? That’s the question Brandi McBride, Veterans Services Manager with Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, posed as she studied the warmly lit room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city center. Comfortable and spacious, with plenty of areas to settle in for a bit of conversation, she started to realize the potential of what this innovative welcome center could really be.

Sure, it has free maps and brochures, a large screen calendar of events scrolling in real time, touchscreen kiosks to explore limitless ways to engage with the community, and a knowledgeable person on staff to help people find their niche in Grand Rapids. Since opening in early April, the GoSite has welcomed over 3000 visitors in the first two months, during its limited spring debut hours. June marks its launch into expanded summer hours, now open seven days a week and later in the evening.

But when McBride walked in she saw the perfect opportunity to not only warmly welcome veterans home to Grand Rapids, but also to help take that next step in their transition to civilian life and a new career. Adjacent to the GoSite space, in the upper walkway that leads to the Grand Rapids Art Museum store and out to the terrace, is a beautiful wood bar and catering area. McBride imagined that combining this space with the GoSite created the perfect reception spot for their upcoming networking mixer. A few conversations later between McBride, the GoSite director and the Art Museum beverage and catering manager, and the event was on.

Sponsored by Herman Miller and the GoSite, the West Michigan Veterans Coalition and the Veterans Employment Working Group from TALENT 2025 came together to create an event that was a little different from other veteran job fairs in the region. The June 10 networking reception provided a casual yet purposeful atmosphere, facilitating communication among veterans and hiring personnel to share ideas about job opportunities, transferable skills and matching interests. The event included representatives from Herman Miller, Rockford Construction, Meijer, Haworth, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amway, Amerikam and Uniform Color Company.

“Thousands of veterans will be coming home to West Michigan in the next five years and many of these men and women have been out of the area for at least four years, if not longer, and might be bringing families back with them,” says McBride. “The GoSite was a great place to introduce these veterans to all of the great things going on in Grand Rapids. With awesome community partners like GoSite and over 80 TALENT 2025 employers committed to veteran-friendly hiring practices, we are well on our way to becoming a Military-Friendly Community.”

McBride shared some of the feedback received from veterans in attendance.

“It was a big eye opener for us in many ways and it showed us that our skills and talents are relevant to the current job market,” she says. “We all walked away feeling upbeat and confident about our future knowing that we have you all on our side through this journey.”

This is Grand Rapids. This is our welcoming and collaborative community. This was McBride’s vision of what a 21st century welcome center could be. What’s yours? Stop in to the GoSite at 101 Monroe Center and let your imagination take hold.

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