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MiBiz Growth Report: Feb. 6, 2017

BY MiBiz Staff Sunday, February 05, 2017 04:49pm

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Feb. 6, 2017. 

• M&A: The Pioneer Group, a Big Rapids-based publisher of newspapers and an operator of a digital marketing services business, has sold after four generations of family ownership. Owners Jack and John Batdorff sold the company to Hearst Communications Inc., the New York-based publishing giant, according to a statement. The Pioneer Group publishes two daily newspapers in West Michigan, The Pioneer in Big Rapids and the Manistee News Advocate. The company also includes three weekly titles: Lake County Star, based in Baldwin; Herald-Review in Osceola County; and The Benzie County Record Patriot. The company also publishes four Shopper publications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Through the deal, the Hearst Newspapers division expands its holdings in Michigan, which include the Huron Daily Tribune and Midland Daily News.

• M&A: Lansing-based Liquid Web LLC, a managed hosting provider, has acquired Chicago-based WiredTree, a web hosting firm, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal followed an August 2016 transaction in which Liquid Web acquired the Cloud Sites business from Rackspace. Liquid Web generates $100 million in annual revenues and services more than 30,000 customers in 150 companies.

• M&A: The Orlando, Fla.-based PlanSource, a provider of cloud-based benefits and human resources software, acquired Next Generation Enrollment Inc. in Ada. Next Generation Enrollment, with 900 clients that range from 50 to 35,000 employees, offers services to automate the administration of employee benefits, including outsourcing, call centers, billing reconciliation and payment, employee communications, dependent eligibility audits, and COBRA. Next Generation Enrollment has offices in Michigan, Virginia and Nevada with clients nationwide. The company in 2016 was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for the third time. Terms of the deal, which closed Jan. 20, were undisclosed. 

• M&A: Irving, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group Inc. (Nasdaq: NXST) has acquired all the outstanding shares of Media General, the former owner of WOOD TV8, WOTV and WXSP, as part of a $4.6 billion deal, according to a statement. The deal closed after the Federal Communications Commission last month approved the acquisition, which had been announced last year. General Manager Diane Kniowski was promoted to senior vice president and regional manager of Nexstar’s stations in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the company. Nexstar operates 171 stations in 100 markets.

• M&A: Warren-based Art Van Furniture Inc., which maintains multiple stores in the West Michigan area, intends to sell to Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, a Boston-based private equity firm. The deal, the terms for which were not disclosed, is expected to close in February. Toronto-based RBC Capital Markets LLC acted as financial adviser to Art Van, while New York City-based Goldman Sachs & Co. served as financial adviser to the buyer.

• Expansion: Sparta-based Speedrack Products Group Ltd. will invest $5 million to purchase a facility in Litchfield in south-central Michigan’s Hillsdale County, according to a statement. The company received a $228,000 performance-based Michigan Business Development Program grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The project will create 38 jobs at Speedrack, a supplier of pallet racking and storage systems. The company also considered sites in Ohio and Indiana. The Litchfield City Council also approved a 12-year tax abatement for the project. 

• Expansion: After acquiring an unidentified customer, Grandville-based Kerkstra Precast Inc. plans to invest more than $16.2 million to expand its facility in Trenton in Southeast Michigan. The manufacturer of structural and architectural precast expects to create 50 jobs with the project. It chose Michigan over a competing site in Ohio. The MEDC awarded the company a $300,000 Michigan Business Development Program grant to support the project.

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