Joe Boomgaard

Joe Boomgaard

Editor, covers craft beverage industry.
Twitter: @jboomgaard
Email: [email protected]

With the acquisition this year of a Charlevoix-based defense contractor, Grand Traverse Economic Development is executing on the initial steps of its investment strategy to diversify revenues for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians away from gaming. If all goes to plan for Traverse City-based GTED, the sovereign tribe’s non-gaming commercial investment arm intends over the next decade to build a $1 billion portfolio of companies, almost entirely focused in some way on government contracting.

West Michigan tribes may be relatively new to implementing economic development and diversification plans, but they’ve quickly established themselves as strategic partners for the local business community because of their focus on investing in companies and real estate. Moreover, many of the federally-recognized sovereign tribes are looking to engage with non-tribal businesses, spreading the opportunity beyond just tribal members into potentially powerful economic opportunities across the region.

Saugatuck Brewing Co. plans to acquire Kalamazoo-based Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, pending various regulatory approvals.

Pabst Brewing Co. appears to be jumping into the spirits product category with the help of a West Michigan brewery and distillery.

MUSKEGON — A lakeshore fabrication shop hopes to capitalize on explosive growth in the U.S. craft distilling industry by offering custom Michigan-made stills and other equipment. NexGen Mechanical Solutions LLC founder Scott Whitaker, a pipefitter by trade, over the last 13 years developed a niche in serving the region’s distilleries, including New Holland Artisan Spirits in Holland and Muskegon-based 18th Amendment Spirits Co.

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS — The partners behind Wonderland Distilling Co. want to position their spirits as a connection to the outdoors culture in West Michigan and a link to the water that surrounds it. The startup distillery has already signed a lease and has started construction on production space in Muskegon Heights and expects to submit its federal licensing paperwork in the coming weeks, said Allen Serio, Wonderland’s chief marketing and sales officer.

The Grand Rapids Whitewater nonprofit has secured $4.4 million in new public and foundation funding for its restoration efforts of the Grand River through the city.

Two West Michigan craft brewers operating with vastly differing business models are taking a similar approach to growing their operations by using capacity at other breweries. Both Sawyer-based Greenbush Brewing Co. and Muskegon-based Rake Beer Project LLC are taking advantage of a production model that allows them to get beer into the market without a significant upfront capital investment.

A West Michigan brewpub in planning has agreed to change its name as part of a settlement in a trademark infringement case brought by Railtown Brewing Co. last August.

Foresight Management has acquired Grand Rapids-based Building Performance Team Inc., expanding the company’s in-house services in energy modeling and building commissioning.

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