Jacob Riggs earns 2021 Impact Award
LANSING — Central Michigan talent development and employment successes were among those celebrated by state leaders at the Michigan Works! Association Impact Awards this week.
Local lawmakers and statewide talent development officials gathered virtually on Wednesday, March 31 to recognize Irons resident Jacob Riggs, Lake County Road Commission and Michigan Works! West Central for investing in young talent through initiatives to support high-skilled, high-wage job sectors.
At a young age, Riggs enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. At age 11, he took apart his first engine to see how it worked and he was hooked!
Now 19 years old, Riggs has taken his passion for using his hands and turned it into a budding successful career as a mechanic for the Lake County Road Commission. Riggs, recently bought his first home in northwestern Lake County, graduated from the Heavy Equipment Mechanic program at a nearby Career Technical Education center in spring 2019. After searching for work throughout the summer, he successfully interviews for a position as a mechanic with the road commission. However, he needed an additional credential before he could start working. The road commission was so impressed with Riggs’ interview and capability as a mechanic that they offered to hold the position for him while he completed training to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
"Jacob’s personality helped him stand out,” said LeRoy Williams, road commission operations manager. “When he came into the interview, he was really upbeat and engaging. He did well on the practical test, especially for a young as he is.”
Riggs came to Michigan Works! West Central in mid-October to see about tuition assistance to earn his CDL though the six-week program at Pinnacle Truck Driver Training in Cadillac. He completed training by mid-December and started work at the road commission in early January 2020, earning $16.81 per hour.
“Jacob was a pleasure to work with,” said Connie Aalderink, the talent specialist at Michigan Works! West Central who worked with Riggs. “He has a true talent and love for diesel mechanics. When I met Jacob, he came into the office very motivated to start truck driving school. He’s a very motivated young man and is not afraid to go for what he wants.”
Hired at age 18 with a good-paying job, many teens would be satisfied, but Riggs wanted more. Within the first few months of his employment, he had successfully taken the tests to obtain his Heavy Equipment Mechanic Master Certification through the State of Michigan, and he has plans to earn additional automotive mechanic certifications.
“I enjoy what I do because it’s something new every day,” said Riggs. “Working at the road commission, we have more than 100 pieces of equipment that we work on. I really enjoy it! I’m thankful for all the help from Michigan Works! to get me to this point and get my CDL training going. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn't have been able to do it.”
The Impact Awards hosted by the Michigan Works! Association recognize the economic development success being achieved in communities across Michigan. During the event, local lawmakers present tributes to dozens of honorees from across the state.
“Jacob is a great example of what can be achieved if you work hard and refuse to give up,” said Michigan Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington. “His hard work, dedication and positive attitude helped him achieve his career goals. Congratulations on winning this prestigious award, Jacob!”
Award winners included employers, workers, Michigan Works! organizations and partners from across the state.
“Michigan Works! West Central has the tools to help Michiganders achieve their career goals and I want to congratulate the entire team at Michigan Works! West Central for helping change outcomes for our residents every day,” said Michigan Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant. “Congratulations to Jacob for working hard to achieve your dreams and build a rewarding career.”
To watch Riggs and the Lake County Road Commission accept the Impact Award, see the below video.