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Victim of 2009 Auto Industry Collapse Reborn as Job Finder

April 16, 2010

An online project management system developed for auto suppliers has been retooled as a Web portal aimed at helping unemployed designers and engineers find jobs.

Tim Calkins shut the doors of his Advanced Design Resources International after business dried up during last year’s auto industry collapse. His Web-based system has been resurrected as a new company, WorkingHabitat Group, aided by $370,000 in stimulus money from four southeast Michigan counties.

By the beginning of April, more than 3,000 professionals had registered on workinghabitat.com and posted their résumés, Calkins said.

Use of the site is free to any unemployed professional who registers. Registrants from the four Michigan counties providing funding—Macomb, St. Clair, Livingston and Oakland, the home of Chrysler Group—will rise to the top of employee searches, Calkins said.

In March, the state of Michigan sent letters or e-mails to alert unemployed professionals in the four counties.

Monroe County and Wayne County—the latter of which is home to General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.—have requested quotes on what it would cost to be involved, Calkins said.

“With WorkingHabitat, we are repurposing that [Advanced Design Resources system] by including a searchable database mechanism for our Michigan white-collar workers and adding tools that allow these workers to work remotely from home or anywhere,” Calkins said.

“We’ve committed to the counties that we’re going to focus on the white-collar workers in Michigan for the first year.”

This week, WorkingHabitat is preparing to open the database to companies around the world to look for remote employees, Calkins said. The company has contracted with Global Impact Group of Grand Blanc, Michigan, to solicit employers from India, Germany, Indonesia, Sweden and other countries to find and employ new engineers and designers through the portal, he said.

Employers finding and employing professionals through WorkingHabitat will pay a 10 percent premium on the salaries of those new hires.

Calkins is projecting first-year revenue of about $1.7 million for the new company.

Any company with an engineering project and a need for outside resources can register at the portal and search its database of available employees, who have uploaded their skills and resumes into the database, Calkins said.

After selecting and hiring an employee, the company and employee can begin working on design and engineering projects through the Web site.

Employees get paid automatically by direct deposits into bank accounts, checks or crediting debit cards, following time-card authorization by the company.

All project interaction and payments are done in a secure, encrypted environment, Calkins said.  

Filed by Sherri Welch of Crain’s Detroit Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Chad Halcom also contributed to this report. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

 

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