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A mix of economic optimism and the availability of capital should yield another strong year for acquisitions in 2017.

Michigan’s top housing and community development agency needs a new executive director.

Another Michigan-based craft brewery appears to be considering a satellite location on Grand Rapids’ west side.

zHere is the MiBiz Growth Report for Jan. 9, 2017. 

• M&A: Grand Rapids-based Irwin Seating Co. signed a letter of intent to purchase American Seating Co.’s architectural fixed seating business in a deal expected to close in March 2017, pending due diligence. The business includes products for stadiums, auditoriums and other large venues. The company’s move to divest a “higher profile part of our business was an extremely difficult decision to make,” Chairman and CEO Ed Clark said in a statement announcing the transaction. The sale comes as American Seating seeks “to optimize its operations and resources in order to pursue significant growth opportunities” in its transportation seating business, where the company will continue to focus. American Seating intends to lay off 80 workers early this year as a result of the deal. However, a portion of that workforce may transition into roles at Irwin Seating, according to the statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Central Michigan University may launch a new graduate program later this year that would add to entrepreneurial education in the state. 

Mergers and acquisitions within the banking industry are expected to maintain a steady pace in the new year.

Professionals working in mergers and acquisitions in West Michigan expect strong deal flow to continue in 2017, maintaining a seller’s market.

ADetroit-based nonprofit will manage a new statewide fund created to provide needed early-stage capital to startups in Michigan.

HOLLAND — A $555,000 investment gives a Holland-based sports-related mobile application developer the seed capital it needs to pursue additional clients and grow the business.

KALAMAZOO — One Southwest Michigan biotech company wants to leverage a little-known chemical compound to capitalize on the hydroponic and cannabis industries. 

During a time when so many organizations are struggling to find talent, one Lansing-based nonprofit continues to offer jobs to people with disabilities. Since its founding in 1976, Peckham Inc. has operated under the premise that “people with disabilities are amazing workers but they often need some extra support around them to be successful,” said President and CEO Mitchell Tomlinson. Over the last two years, the organization has shifted some of its focus to providing training and opportunities for people with disabilities in the technology support field. Now, Peckham employs 150 people with disabilities in Grand Rapids working in I.T. help-desk positions and is in the process of hiring at least 30 more workers. Tomlinson spoke with MiBiz about Peckham’s decision to begin offering technology-support services and the opportunities those positions unlock for workers with disabilities. 

KALAMAZOO — It may have taken five years, but the partners behind one of the largest mixed-use projects in downtown Kalamazoo finally have secured the financing they need for the development. 

MUSKEGON — After a career spent in a variety of management and sales roles in the packaging industry, Rich Wilson decided it was time to strike out on his own. 

The first time Jason Mejeur pitched to a prospective venture capital investor, armed with his “crappy” PowerPoint presentation to explain his concept, he failed to secure any money.

Despite the possibility of easing emissions regulations and historically low gasoline prices, LG Chem Michigan Inc. remains charged about the possibilities for electrified vehicles. 

After a strong 2016, most West Michigan manufacturers are looking ahead to this year with optimism that they will continue to grow as the economy expands. 

KALAMAZOO — A major expansion by Stryker Corp. could provide a welcome shot in the arm for Southwest Michigan’s life sciences sector. 

GRAND RAPIDS — The conversion of several low-income properties to market-rate apartments by a West Michigan-based property investor has raised concerns in Lansing and Washington, D.C. 

Holland Home has begun construction on a new $3.3 million building at its campus near 44th Street and Breton Road on Grand Rapids’ southeast side.

The ongoing build out of a new Apple Inc. store at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids makes for just one of many changes at the region’s oldest enclosed shopping center.

Lake Michigan Insurance Agency, a division of Lake Michigan Credit Union, has acquired Katt Insurance Agency in Belmont.

Accuserve Corp. has purchased Paradigm Plus LLC as the owner of the Jenison-based contract packaging company chose to pursue other ventures.

The expanding chain of HopCat craft beer bars will head oceanside later this year.

Founder and CEO Denise Kohler-Kolesar sold her Grand Rapids-based Kohler Expos Inc. to a longtime employee of the company.

Crystal Flash has acquired Richardson Oil LLC in a move that will expand the company’s footprint in Southwest Michigan.

Irwin Seating Co. signed a letter of intent to purchase American Seating Co.’s architectural fixed seating business in a deal expected to close in March 2017, pending due diligence.

Readers of MiBiz.com continue to gobble up news about downtown Grand Rapids developments and all manner of craft beverage-related stories in 2016.

Oxx LLC, a manufacturer of rugged appliances, in October raised $200,000 from investors to expand its inventory in preparation for the holiday season.

For the annual year-end Crystal Ball edition, MiBiz asked executives from around West Michigan to share their outlooks for 2017, both for their industry and their companies.

Neogen Corp. has acquired Rogama Indústria e Comércio Ltda. of Brazil, marking Neogen’s fourth acquisition this year.

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