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It looks like the stage is set for yet another year of robust light vehicle sales and production in 2016.

Many companies engage in their annual strategic planning around this time of year. They are forecasting sales for the next year, figuring out what capital expenditures will be needed, and identifying initiatives to better position themselves in the market.

Energy Partners LLC, which is based in Spring Lake but operates from Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) in Muskegon, recently secured patents for technology that executives believe will increase the efficiency and safety of solar energy.

Mergers and acquisitions among global automotive suppliers should maintain the robust pace they reached in 2015 as the industry heads into the new year. That’s according to Ernst and Young’s recent Automotive Capital Confidence report published in November in which executives said they expected the global M&A market to “thrive” into 2016.

When Otsego-based Prime Solutions Inc. first launched its strategy to export its dewatering and filtration products two years ago, it expected a robust international market. However, as global activity slowed, the company realized it needed to change its model to grow.

Grand Haven-based Shape Corp. understands the complexity of geographic expansion. The supplier of automotive bumper systems and body structures employs more than 3,000 people across its U.S. and global operations and continues to add to its growing business.

Experts predict that West Michigan manufacturers will have easier access to freight carriers and that prices will hold steady in the near term. The reason: Capacity constraints in the logistics industry have finally started to abate.

Tesla Motors Inc. wants to strike a compromise with lawmakers so it can begin selling its electric vehicles in Michigan using the same direct-to-consumer model it’s deployed in 25 other states.

Joe Papa never doubted Perrigo Co. plc would survive Mylan N.V.’s hostile takeover bid. That said, the chairman and CEO at Perrigo concedes he lost a lot of sleep, rode a “roller coaster of emotions,” and now sports a few more gray hairs than he did seven months ago.

The docking of the last coal freighter at the Consumers Energy B.C. Cobb power plant earlier this month serves as a harbinger of what’s to come for the Port of Muskegon.

As automakers continue electrifying their vehicle fleets, one West Michigan company has already started identifying uses for lithium-ion batteries after they’re no longer suitable for automotive applications. Global Battery Solutions LLC (GBS), a Holland-based sister organization of Sybesma’s Electronics Inc., plans to grow its operations by integrating post-automotive lithium-ion batteries into new applications.

After years of steady growth, executives at Nuvar Inc. needed to make a choice. The Holland-based contract manufacturer could either continue to lease a small facility to ease capacity constraints at its main production center, or it could make a larger investment and purchase an additional building that would better position the business to grow.

Once heralded as a part of the future of advanced manufacturing and the next generation of automotive suppliers, lithium-ion battery manufacturers have found mixed successes in Michigan, despite an abundance of state and federal assistance.

After several years of starts and stops, advanced battery manufacturers in West Michigan are ramping up their production in the region. While Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc., which operates a manufacturing facility in Holland for its power solutions division, and Holland-based LG Chem Michigan Inc. plan to capitalize on the growing customer demand for advanced battery technology, the two companies differ in their approach to the market.

Like many West Michigan manufacturers, Rapid-Line Inc. faces a major hurdle when it comes to staffing.

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