CRAFT BEER ROUNDTABLE: For West Michigan brewers, adaptability remains key to survival in a changing industryWritten by Joe Boomgaard
As more generations become exposed over time to the craft beer industry, brewers will face new opportunities to find growth and challenges to their existing business models. Add in a healthy dose of regulatory uncertainty and shifting market dynamics that could easily catch breweries off guard financially if they scaled up too large, too soon and it’s easy to see that the craft brewing industry remains in a state of constant flux.
In the hyper-competitive craft beer industry in which growth has started to level off in recent years, Old Nation Brewing Co. proves the exception to the rule. The Williamston-based brewery has garnered a name for itself with its M-43 brand, a popular New England-style hazy India Pale Ale that carries a suggested retail price of $13.99 per four-pack of 16-ounce cans.
GRAND RAPIDS — Craft beer enthusiasts are a spirited bunch who want to discover and follow breweries and brands. This has created an environment of constant sampling at the hundreds of tasting rooms and beer festivals across the country — and a big haul for brewers who are regularly on the road.
Although Michigan has earned a spot among the nation’s top producers of hops after a growth spurt in the last five years, 2018 served as a moment of reckoning for the state’s growers, whose overall acreage declined. The state remains the fourth-largest cultivator of hops, although still lags well behind the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., where almost 96 percent of the nearly 58,000 acres of hops are grown in the country.
The amount of venture capital invested in the Midwest grew at a compound annual rate of 17 percent from 2013 to 2018, the third highest in the U.S., behind the West Coast at 28 percent and the Mid-Atlantic region at 22 percent. The growth rate was one of the reasons the National Venture Capital Association and the University of California Berkeley chose Ann Arbor as the place to launch a new education program, VC University LIVE, on May 15-17 at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
WALKER — Seven years after buying Custom Profile Inc., Blackford Capital Inc. was ready for an exit. In seeking to sell the company, the Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital evaluated a variety of options. Those options included finding a strategic buyer, a deal with another private equity firm, or selling to Custom Profile’s management and employees under an employee stock ownership plan.
Since deciding last fall to open a psychiatric urgent care center, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services President and CEO Mark Eastburg has heard from interested colleagues at care providers in the region asking about the possibility of replicating the model elsewhere.
Michigan House Republicans have advanced a pair of bills blocking local units of government from adopting “sanctuary” policies for undocumented immigrants, although critics say the bills could interfere with local law enforcement.
Dr. Hyung Tai Kim becomes the new president next week at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, a position he viewed as offering an “extraordinary opportunity to join an organization that believes in the things that I believe in.”
A bipartisan group of state lawmakers introduced a bill this month calling for the expanded use of microgrids, which help utilities and private customers rely on localized power generation during outages. House Bill 4477— sponsored by state Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland — aims to build grid resilience by allowing customers who generate their own power to disconnect from the grid during outages.
A recent report found that Michigan leads the Midwest in clean energy jobs, but top state energy officials say the state and industry could foster a more diverse workforce.
KALAMAZOO — Sorghum is not a common ingredient in beer produced in the United States, but it is used widely in Africa, where the grain is favored for its drought-resistant properties. But a collaboration between Tillers International, a nonprofit headquartered in Scotts, about 12 miles southeast of Kalamazoo, and Kalamazoo-based Arcadia Brewing Co. aims to give patrons a chance to sample a beer made with sorghum at a tasting event on April 30.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. CEO Jeff Mason, who has led the organization since July 2017, is optimistic about the state of Michigan’s economy in 2019, and emphasized the importance of improving the state’s infrastructure.
Merger-related expenses flattened quarterly earnings for ChoiceOne Financial Services Inc.
GRAND RAPIDS — At 15 years old, Elevator Up LLC had come to what founder Aaron Schaap called a “big milestone.” The Grand Rapids digital design consultancy for products and services had grown nicely from the early days. Schaap began considering what the next 15 years would look like, putting together goals, and weighing what leadership and talent Elevator Up would need.
Japanese conglomerate Hitachi Ltd. plans to acquire Holland-based JR Automation Technologies LLC in a $1.42 billion deal.
KALAMAZOO — Stryker Corp. grew sales 8.5 percent during the first quarter, although net income declined.
GRAND RAPIDS — Studio Park developers announced Tuesday that five retailers and a restaurant will be included in the development.
Independent Bank Corp. got off to what President and CEO Brad Kessel called a “solid start” in 2019 with slightly higher earnings.
Leslie Bellavance plans to return to teaching and step down this summer as president of Kendall College of Art and Design at Ferris State University.
What began as a way for a software developer to keep families and friends updated on his daughter’s condition became a business opportunity for Open System Technologies Inc. in the health care industry. After a year-long pilot with Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids-based OST has begun to pitch the CareCircle service to health systems across the U.S., starting with the more than 100 hospitals that are already clients.
Michigan is “a natural fit” for industrial hemp production, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday as the state launched an industrial hemp pilot program for the 2019 planting season. The new program allows for the growth, cultivation and marketing of Michigan grown industrial hemp.
A venture capital fund led by women investors to back women-owned startups has raised $4.5 million so far toward a $20 million goal. Belle Michigan Impact Fund LP has attracted 57 investors to date, including its first institutional investor in Toronto-based Canadian Imperial Bank Corp.
BELMONT — Trilogy Health Services LLC is planning to construct a new senior living and rehabilitation center in Plainfield Charter Township. The Belmont facility would be at 6081 West River Drive NE, on the northwest corner of West River and Jupiter Avenue, which is currently a vacant lot, said Matt Cole, senior civil engineer for Paradigm Design Inc.
A Decatur couple has pleaded guilty in federal court to multi-million dollar fraud charges involving their operation of one of Southwest Michigan’s largest corporate farms.