GRAND RAPIDS — The $2.05 million in funding Sportsman Tracker Inc. raised this spring will go to further develop a social media platform and mobile app for hunters. As some social media platforms begin to give lower value to hunting content, Sportsman Tracker CEO Jeff Courter saw an opportunity to further build his HuntWise app that has been downloaded by 2 million users.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Lansing hopes to revive Michigan’s historic preservation tax credit, which they say will encourage redevelopment in communities across the state. Bills introduced in the state Senate and House earlier this year would reinstate a tax credit of up to 25 percent for rehabilitation expenses on historic properties.
Michigan’s medical marijuana market has experienced a flurry of activity in the past two weeks involving court rulings, state guidelines and legislation, and culminating in a showdown within the marijuana business community. The contention hinges on competition between state-licensed and unlicensed businesses and growers.
The closure of two recycling drop-off locations in West Michigan highlights the need for the industry to focus on operational efficiency at a time when margins are shrinking. But recycling advocates say the loss of access stemming from the two closures could act as a deterrent in the push to increase Michigan’s recycling rate, which is about 15 percent and ranks among the bottom of all U.S. states.
KALAMAZOO — Peter Bergmann began his tenure as president at Ascension Borgess three months ago with a host of issues on his plate to manage. Among them is finalizing the proposed acquisition of 25-bed Allegan General Hospital and integrating it into the Kalamazoo-based regional health system, which includes hospitals in Kalamazoo, Dowagiac and Plainwell, as well as outpatient centers and physician offices.
‘SIGNIFICANT ASSET’: Amid slowdown in launches, new threats, West Michigan tooling industry braces for changeWritten by Jessica Young
The challenges confronting Michigan’s tool, die and mold makers are deeply rooted. The state hosts more than twice as many tool and die workers compared to any other state, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the undisputed leader of the industry, Michigan also suffers the greatest consequences of its uncertainty.
TIME OF REINVENTION: Tool & die shops prioritize savvy investment strategies to avoid getting over-extendedWritten by Jessica Young
While tool and die shop owners are hunkering down and tightening their belts in anticipation of a decrease in available work, some small- to mid-sized operations in West Michigan have already been forced to close their doors.
Barriers to entry for advanced manufacturing continue to come down as automation becomes a more viable option — even for job shops — through what’s becoming known as modular manufacturing. Vickers Engineering Inc., a Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier based in New Troy, Mich., has become a breakthrough story in the automation industry, growing from approximately $10 million in revenue in 2010 to a projected $60 million in 2019.
At Southfield-based Harbour Results Inc., Laurie Harbour leads a company of analysts and consultants who use data and experience to help small- to medium-sized manufacturers develop strategies to improve their operations, reduce risks and optimize business.
A large penetration of electric vehicles is not in Michigan’s near-future, so advocates say EV drivers shouldn’t be hit with steep fee increases based on the state’s road funding formula. That is the prospect under a road funding law enacted in 2015, but clean energy groups hope the issue is revisited before electric vehicle drivers potentially see some of the highest registration fees in the country.
GRAND RAPIDS — In selling shares in the design and construction management firm he started 23 years ago, Guy Bazzani begins to wind down a lengthy career that had a significant influence on the green building movement in West Michigan. Bazzani Building Co. is among the pioneers locally of design and building principles and practices that follow a Triple Bottom Line philosophy that blends economic, social and environmental sustainability.
GRAND RAPIDS — More than seven years, $2 million and 500 companies later, Varnum LLP signed on for a third round of providing free legal services to help new companies get off the ground. The Grand Rapids-based law firm will give away another $1 million in legal services through the MiSpringboard program that launched in 2011 under a push by then-Gov. Rick Snyder to support entrepreneurism as Michigan’s economy began recovering from the Great Recession.
EAST LANSING — With a new investment fund at Michigan State University, students can gain experience on either side of the venture capital industry. The Student Venture Capital Fund offers students with an idea for a business or an innovation “priceless” experience in seeking capital and pitching to prospective investors, said Jeff Wesley, the executive director of Red Cedar Ventures at MSU.
In Michigan, the second most diverse agricultural state in America, one in six children goes to bed hungry. That was among the findings in Map the Meal Gap 2019, the latest report from Feeding America on food insecurity and the cost of food at the local level.
According to Nielsen data supplied by the United States Association of Cider Makers, the cider beverage category continues to expand, with off-premise sales up 9.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018 versus the prior year. Customers also are buying local: Regional cider sales are growing four times as fast as national cider brands.
The economy continued “chugging along” in West Michigan during the early spring, even as economist Brian Long’s monthly survey of industrial purchasing managers again found signs of slower growth.
Davenport University plans to expand a bachelor’s program for nursing in the Grand Rapids area to meet a talent shortage.
After producing mead commercially for the past year, Alto-based Grims Bee LLC plans to expand and open its first consumer-facing store and tasting room in nearby Middleville.
Perrigo Co. plc intends to use the proceeds from the sale of its animal health business to buy Ranir Global Holdings LLC, a Grand Rapids-based maker of oral care products.
Perrigo Co. plc plans to see off its animal health business for $185 million in cash to PetIQ LLC, an Eagle, Idaho-based pet health and wellness company.
Citing the loss of a key contract, Concerto Health Inc. plans to close three locations in Michigan, including an office in Kalamazoo.
ALPINE TOWNSHIP — Dunneback Fruit Farm LLC aims to offer customers something new in addition to the fruits and vegetables grown at the multi-generational family farm. The business will use fruits, hops and other products from the farming operation to make beer, wine and cider and serve them in an on-site tasting room at 3025 6 Mile Road NW.
GRAND RAPIDS — The new owner of Bazzani Building Co. in Grand Rapids plans to maintain the company’s niche focus of sustainable design and construction Investment firm ASA Group LLC, based in Granger, Ind., near South Bend, closed in late April on the acquisition of a majority stake in Bazzani Building, a design and construction management company that over more than two decades established a niche and reputation for its sustainable business practices.
Private prison operator Geo Group Inc. plans to reopen its closed North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin.
Forman Glass LLC, a Comstock Charter Township-based glass and glazing company, is relocating production of its window and entrance frames from Ft. Wayne, Ind. to Southwest Michigan.
CWD Real Estate Investment Inc. is nearing completion on a project that will offer offices in a historic building in downtown Grand Rapids.
C.N.C. Products LLC, a Southwest Michigan sheet metal fabricator, has been acquired by Indiana-based private equity firm Parker Holding Inc.
Renishaw Metrology Fixturing Solutions LLC of Grand Haven plans to expand in a move north into a new 52,000-square-foot facility in Norton Shores.
Ensign Equipment Inc., a bulk-material handling and storage systems producer based in Holland, Mich., has been acquired by Muskegon-based Excalibur Co. LLC.
The Waldron Public House, owned and operated by BarFly Ventures LLC, will be transformed into a three-story tiki bar and restaurant this summer.
Global direct-selling giant Amway Corp. has started another round of cuts to its workforce, the company confirmed to MiBiz.
South Bend, Ind.-based Teachers Credit Union plans to acquire New Bancorp Inc., the parent company of New Buffalo Savings Bank.
As Michigan’s venture capital industry made further gains in 2018, it made some progress on one front that’s been the focus of attention the last few years: Diversity. Statistics tucked into the Michigan Venture Capital Association’s 2019 research report show an uptick over five years in investments into startups companies led by women and minorities.
MUSKEGON — Higher Great Lakes water levels this spring should benefit the shipping industry and even recreational boat harbors, but also create shoreline erosion and other problems for docks and piers.
MUSKEGON — Federal guidance on a new incentive program designed to encourage investment in economically-distressed communities comes at an opportune time for Muskegon. Amid an ongoing wave of redevelopment in the city, property investors looking to shield some gains from taxes now have new ways to redeploy their capital and seek returns via Opportunity Zones.
GRAND RAPIDS — As Michigan’s second-largest city continues to grow and developers scoop up the remaining developable vacant land, it’s likely that some Grand Rapids residents who rent homes in desirable neighborhoods could face being displaced.
Problems with Michigan’s infrastructure go beyond deteriorating roads and bridges. Michigan also ranks poorly — 42nd among the 50 states — in terms of digital connectivity, according to an annual report on entrepreneurship in the state.
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.