GRAND RAPIDS — Shifting its ground from the east and west coasts, the BALLE Business Conference will move to the heartland this May and give local businesses, entrepreneurs and community members the opportunity to explore and discuss issues pertaining to the growth of local, interconnected economies.
While West Michigan is host to a number of its own small business accelerators, some out-of-state investors see the region as fertile ground for scooping up a piece of the area’s entrepreneurial climate.
Founded in 1987 by John Lowery, Applied Imaging now has six offices in Michigan and is pushing an effort to further its footprint into the Metro Detroit market.
In forming a united front, the managing partners at 13 Grand Rapids law firms seek to aggressively diversify the local legal community in the years ahead.
A million pounds of scrap powder produced by West Michigan manufacturers could someday end up in office furniture instead of the local landfill.
Criterion designs and manufactures automation equipment, particularly programmable motion technology used in cutting machines, measurement machines and robotic parking systems. Last year, the company helped develop an automated parking system for a medical center in California.
Keltech is a designer and manufacturer of tankless electric water heaters used in place of boilers in stadiums, on ships, for instrument sterilization in hospitals and for other industrial and heating applications. To grow, the company has paid special attention to how it markets its products.
The historic 93-year-old company has grown to be a full-service manufacturer of metal fabrications and assemblies. It rallied through the recession and made 2010 and 2011 record years. Proos recently leased an additional 30,000 square feet and partnered with local community colleges for future growth.
Lynx Network Group is a wholesale and retail provider of telecommunication services that focuses on providing links to the rural and underserved areas in Michigan that competitors typically avoid because of high entry costs. A facilities-based provider, Lynx owns more than 1,200 miles of fiber assets. In 2011, Lynx doubled its annual revenue and is projecting a 34 percent increase in 2012.
Optimal Solutions is a provider of software and systems engineering services for the education and health care markets. The company developed the world’s first interactive patient system that is 100-percent data network based, a product it debuted at Metro Hospital.
When the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event launched in 2005, its founders must have felt like lone voices in the wilderness. Corporate recruitment and retention were still the economic development strategies of choice in those heady, pre-recession days.
Team Support Services serves its clients by designing information and records management programs that allow its clients to reduce operating costs, make information readily accessible, minimize legal risks and ensure they are complying with regulations. In recent years, the company has been able able to expand the number of services it offers as well as its physical facilities, and it expects to double its revenue in the next year.
Worksighted provides advanced IT services to small and midsized businesses and has posted 36 percent average growth for the past three years. It is projecting a 29 percent increase this year. Much of Worksighted’s success can be attributed to wise technology investments such as systems integration, cloud-computing products and remote management and monitoring tools.
Ross Timyan is 22 years old and his company did $1.3 million in sales last year. The young entrepreneur and Grand Valley State University student got his start at age 15 selling cars on eBay for his parents’ friends. Now he has expanded his business to included a high-end vehicle photography studio as well as “fly and shine” detail service, which stores and cleans travelers’ vehicles.
Curo provides pharmacy services to long-term health care providers such as rehabilitation centers, retirement communities, adult foster care homes, nursing homes and assisted living centers. The company’s business model combines technological investments with old-fashioned attentiveness and personal service. A pivotal moment in the company’s history occurred when its largest competitor abruptly went out of business, which resulted in Curo’s clientele quickly increasing by 50 percent. Although this put a strain on its systems and staff, CURO was able to recruit additional personnel and obtain more office space to meet the challenge. The company enjoys strong growth and projects a revenue increase of 30 percent for 2012.