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Kate Carlson

Kate Carlson

Staff Writer, covers real estate and development and small businesses

 

Twitter: @BizCarlson
Email: [email protected]

The West Michigan commercial real estate market has been relatively stagnant during the pandemic-induced shift to remote working, but advisers see some room for optimism ahead of a vaccine rollout and with several recent office deals. 

Local economic development leaders have long sought to bring a global headquarters to downtown Grand Rapids, and it will soon become a reality as  Perrigo Co. plc moves its North American corporate offices to the Medical Mile.

Working in the wedding industry during the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread restrictions on large gatherings has been stressful for Jennifer Elenbaas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed restaurants to adapt and innovate in order to survive. As the architects of the restaurant industry, chefs across West Michigan have tested various experiments to stay afloat during the pandemic and beyond. 

KALAMAZOO — Former Republican Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield has been named CEO of Southwest Michigan First, the economic development agency announced Thursday.

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association is partnering with a virtual restaurant management company powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide its members with health screening and contact tracing software.

KALAMAZOO — Julie Byrne was recently appointed as president of CSM Group Inc. after working at the construction management firm for 15 years. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Real estate investor Tim Engen has formed a new company that will focus on construction projects in the office, medical, industrial and retail sectors.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and the city of Grand Rapids have taken another step to advance plans for an outdoor amphitheater on riverfront property near downtown.

GRAND RAPIDS — GRNoir Wine and Jazz owners Shatawn and Nadia Brigham welcomed the first dine-in customers to their new Grand Rapids club Monday after being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials have approved United Methodist Community House’s plan to expand its services and construct a new four-story, 93-unit affordable senior apartment facility.

GRAND HAVEN — The West Michigan lakeshore town is experiencing a boom in economic development interest as three key properties around the city’s core are eyed for new projects.

West Michigan economic development organizations are in a transition period — much like the industry itself during the COVID-19 pandemic — as multiple agencies take on new leadership.

Michigan cannabis businesses have overwhelmingly white ownership despite the state’s 2018 voter-approved marijuana law encouraging participation by people who have been “disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.”

Tami VandenBerg successfully applied for the first round of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans for her small businesses in 2020.

GRAND RAPIDS — Six West Michigan corporations earned top scores in this year’s Corporate Equality Index rankings recently published by the Human Rights Campaign, showcasing the companies as among the best places to work for LGBTQ equality.

GRAND HAVEN — A planned 124-unit apartment development in Grand Haven has been approved for a Michigan Community Revitalization Program loan for $4.75 million along with $1.38 million in brownfield incentives.

GRAND RAPIDS — The largest privately held insurance brokerage in the world, Lockton Companies Inc., is expanding its Michigan operation by opening an office in downtown Grand Rapids. 

SAND LAKE — The first cannabis dispensary in Sand Lake is opening Friday to sell exclusively recreational cannabis.

DOWAGIAC — Seven Generations Group, a professional services portfolio of companies, is rebranding and has also managed to grow its portfolio with the formation of Blue Star Integrative Studio, a full-service architecture firm based in Tulsa, Okla., and the spin off of Kalamazoo-based Steelhead Engineering Co. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Five recreational cannabis dispensaries will be operating in the city of Grand Rapids by Friday morning. 

GRAND RAPIDS — In-house food delivery and expanded outdoor capacity are just a few pandemic lessons Rob Schellenberg has learned as he prepares to open a new bar with live music space on Grand Rapids’ West Side.

KALAMAZOO — A new funding tool recently signed into law is intended to help finance an event center in downtown Kalamazoo, but it’s unclear if there is a desire or solid plans to move forward with the venue.

SPRING LAKE — It has been nearly a year since Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake had a crowd of people packed together for a live music performance, but owners Gary and Michelle Hanks hope to see shows return in some capacity in 2021. 

SPARTA TOWNSHIP — Stoney Ridge Winery LLC officially opened in June 2020 after a few soft opening events at the start of the pandemic.

Michigan’s statewide building codes are set for an update this year. While there could be some new energy efficiency measures added, the codes are far behind where they should be to address climate change, according to some local design firms and environmental advocates.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread uncertainty about the future of commercial office space, including for the relatively new sector around coworking, or flexible workplaces.

Owners of historic homes and buildings will soon be able to apply for funding through a newly reinstated state tax credit for historic preservation projects that was eliminated in 2011 as part of former Gov. Rick Snyder’s tax reform strategy.

GRAND HAVEN — A 133-unit condominium and apartment project gained unanimous final site plan approval Tuesday from the Grand Haven City Planning Commission.

WALKER — The Walker Planning Commision is set to consider plans for two conjoined hotels totaling 156 rooms just south of I-96.

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