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Manufacturers benefit from space race

Written by | Sunday, 24 July 2016 13:50 |

ZEELAND — A small but growing number of West Michigan manufacturers hope America’s space ambitions will take off and allow them to continue to develop a niche market.

The mood of the country as reflected in the major political parties suggests a sharp turn against global free trade. 

SPARTA — Buoyed by a $20 million investment, Tesa Tape Inc. aims to transform one if its West Michigan facilities into the North American hub for adhesive tape production and development. 

British voters wanted to send a message with the Brexit vote, and it was certainly heard loud and clear by manufacturers in West Michigan. 

RICHLAND — As manufacturers turn to automation and robotics to speed production and increase efficiencies, one soon-to-be graduate of Western Michigan University aims to bring that technology to machine shops. 

Apart from uncertainty caused by global turmoil and the current political landscape, the office furniture industry seems primed for at least two more years of positive, albeit modest, growth.

MUSKEGON — A pair of West Michigan entrepreneurs want to create a market for onsite electrical power generation by undercutting large utilities with cheaper electricity costs. 

Automotive analysts are looking at recent sales results and warning that the industry cycle may have peaked. 

CHICAGO — After several years of vacillating between open office concepts and private spaces, the so-called “pendulum shift” in office furniture seems to have settled into a new normal. 

As the footprint of workstations continues to shrink, office furniture manufacturers are focusing on integrating new technology into their products to drive value. 

Grand Rapids-based law firm Miller Johnson Snell & Cummiskey PLC recently joined the growing ranks of companies ditching aging, inefficient offices for modern space better suited for collaboration.

Employers who are increasingly paying attention to the overall well-being of employees are generating opportunity for West Michigan office furniture makers to create the type of workspaces that contribute to workers’ health.

According to the most recent state jobs data, wages for manufacturing production workers in May sunk to their lowest levels in the last 12 years as the average hours worked dipped to the lowest point since 2009. Meanwhile, the number of people working in manufacturing hit its highest level in almost a decade.

After driving the West Michigan economy for several years, the manufacturing sector has reached a holding pattern of flat growth that has economists on the lookout for the next downturn in the business cycle. 

LANSING — One mid-Michigan entrepreneur wants to fill a need in the rapidly growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles by catering his products to educators and students.

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