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Best Jobs in Portage, Michigan

Updated on July 11, 2019
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish is a successful employment & training pro, setting Midwest regional records with tens of thousands placed in gainful employment.

Tri-Cites in Western Michigan

Portage is located in Southwestern Michigan and creates the lower point of a land triangle among itself, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. These large communities are the local Tri-Cities for employment and marketing purposes.

Portage is only about seven miles away from Kalamazoo as well, with additional jobs available; and 23 miles from Battle Creek and its major employer, Kellogg.

Many job vacancies need workers in all these locations during the 2020s.

Portage, Michigan:
Portage, MI, USA

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Grand Rapids:
Grand Rapids, MI, USA

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Lansing, MI, USA

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The state capitol.

For workers that are able to commute from Portage to the two larger cities in the triangle, the distance is similar to that between Cincinnati and Dayton in the Ohio Space Corridor and takes about an hour to 90 minutes.

Portage: "A Place for Opportunities to Grow"

The Kalamazoo-Portage employment market produces the largest economic base in the County of Kalamazoo, reported by the county government.

These Portage features are the largest successes:

  • South Westnedge Avenue Commercial Corridor ("hundreds of businesses")
  • Sprinkle Road Industrial Corridor
  • A primary WIA/MichiganWorks! Employment Center

New Businesses

  • Huntington Bank, 416 West Centre Avenue.
  • Becker Insurance, 420 West Centre Avenue.
  • Ameriprise Financial Services; Knowlton, Johnson & Kehoe - 721 West Centre Avenue.
  • First National Bank - 2700 West Centre Avenue. .

Economic Development Plans are available on the site: Southwestern Michigan First. In addition to expanding life sciences related businesses, the site promotes what they call Community Capitalism.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ramona Park in PortageKalamazoo is just north of Portage, at a point where ancient glaciers stopped descending into what became the Northern United States.Kellogg'sLansing Lugnuts Baseball Stadium downtown. Picnic tables on the sidewalks above the field allow visitors to watch the games for free as they eat.A farmers market in Grand Rapids.
Ramona Park in Portage
Ramona Park in Portage | Source
Kalamazoo is just north of Portage, at a point where ancient glaciers stopped descending into what became the Northern United States.
Kalamazoo is just north of Portage, at a point where ancient glaciers stopped descending into what became the Northern United States. | Source
Kellogg's | Source
Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Stadium downtown. Picnic tables on the sidewalks above the field allow visitors to watch the games for free as they eat.
Lansing Lugnuts Baseball Stadium downtown. Picnic tables on the sidewalks above the field allow visitors to watch the games for free as they eat. | Source
A farmers market in Grand Rapids.
A farmers market in Grand Rapids. | Source

Largest Portage Employers

  1. Bronson Healthcare
  2. Bronson Methodist Hospital
  3. Stryker Medical Technology - Surgical and hospital equipment.
  4. Western Michigan University
  5. Fabri-Kal: Thermoformer manufacturing, especially plastic tableware.
  6. Weller Auto Parts: Manufcturing
  7. Borgess Medical Center
  8. Summit Polymers: Automotive manufacturing.
  9. Wirepro Tech
  10. Pfizer - pharmaceuticals.

Portage Job Listings Doubled and Tripled

Indeed.Com listed 2,500 jobs for Portage in May 2009, but over 4,500 openings in May 2019. In July 2019, the number of vacancies increased to approximately 8,000.

Largest Industry Clusters

  1. Trades/Transport/Utilities
  2. Education Services
  3. Healthcare
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Leisure & Hospitality

The most jobs are available at these companies:

  1. Speedway Gas and Convenience Stores
  2. Stryker Healthcare
  3. Kalamazoo County Area Public Schools
  4. Ascension Borgess Hospital; Bronson Healthcare
  5. Shell Oil | Walters-Dimmick Petroleum
  6. Meijer Stores, Family Dollar Stores, Dollar Tree: retail sales and related jobs
  7. Pizza Hut, Burger King/Carrols Corporation: Casual dining
  8. Charles River Laboratories

Another option is to work as an Independent Contractor for LiveOps (the only such company that I know that's successful), which is a virtual call center, but one which handles Food Deliveries, Inbound Sales, Insurance, Financial Services, and others. I have recently known two single moms that have earned a full-time income with it.

Portage Employment Projections

Employment & Training, Job Placement, and related services under the JTPA (Job Training Partnership Act) passed on to the WIA (Workforce Investment Act) around AD 2000. The WIA funds MichiganWorks! offices across the state, along with the program called No Worker Left Behind.

Under WIA, unemployed and underemployed job seekers can receive effective assessment, followed by core and, if needed, advanced services. Job seekers can learn what is involved at each step by reading the web site called MichiganWorks!, Kalamazoo.

The industries forecast for highest growth:

  1. Health Care & Social Assistance
  2. Administrative, Support & Waste/Recycling (largely govt)
  3. Administrative & Support Services – private sector
  4. Ambulatory Health Care
  5. Employment Services
  6. Accommodations, Food Services
  7. Dining Places & Taverns
  8. Professional, Scientific, and Tech Services
  9. Educational Services
  10. Hospitals

Top 10 Hot Jobs

Highest Demand Jobs

  1. Physicians
  2. Pharmacists
  3. Public Health Officers - USAF
  4. Registered Nurses (RNs)
  5. Truck Drivers of all types, including Owner/Operators
  6. Production Workers: Manufacturing
  7. Financial Advisors
  8. Physical Therapists
  9. Insurance Agents
  10. Delivery Drivers, especially groceries and restaurants.

Moderate-Demand Jobs

  • Front line workers: Drug stores, retail, casual dining, coffee shops.
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Event Specialists


One barrier to productive employment can be transportation. The City of Portage advertises its Portage Transit Center will provide a shuttle to the local airport and the Kalamzoo Transit Center once every hour. The city advertises free parking throughout the town and especially, close to the tansit center with its city and inter-city buses. A Ride Sharing program for car pooling is also available.

Bus routes that include Kalamazoo, Portage, Western Michgian University, and several small towns can be found at: Kalamazoo Metro Transit. ADA transportation options are also available.

Higher Education

The following institutions are located in either Portage or nearby Kalamazoo and are designated training providers for Michigan Employment and Training (E&T) services. In other words, they are approved to receive funds and provide training under WIA.

  • Everest Institute-Kalamazoo
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • West Michigan College of Barbering and Beauty
  • Western Michigan University (link located above)
  • Wright Beauty Academy 

A World War II era plane in the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo.
A World War II era plane in the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. | Source

Portage Attractions

Uniquely Portage-Kalamazoo

Map of the Boundaries of Bicentenniel Park

North Entrance (Lovers Lane Trailead): 424 E Kilgore Road:
Portage Creek Bicentennial Park (Trailhead Park), 424 E Kilgore Rd, Portage, MI 49002, USA

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South Entrance (Celery Flats) 7335 Garden Lane:
Portage Creek Bicentennial Park, 7335 Garden Ln, Portage, MI 49002, USA

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS


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