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The next two years are shaping up to be a busy time for tool and die makers in West Michigan and beyond.

MIDDLEVILLE — Backed by a new investment, Middleville Tool & Die Co. wants to ramp up its manufacturing capabilities that will pull it further away from its legacy business.

The 2,000-plus cyclers who will pedal through West Michigan this June for the Gran Fondo event will do more than just get in a day’s ride. 

Michigan Republicans are taking swift action at the start of this year’s legislative session to gradually phase out Michigan’s income tax.

Venture capital investors say work over more than a decade to spur greater innovation and build a better entrepreneurial climate in Michigan has provided them with better investment prospects.

GRAND RAPIDS — Facing a future in which the role of the traditional automobile is changing, officials in Grand Rapids continue to evaluate long-term mobility investments, particularly when it comes to parking.

While for-profit businesses get the bulk of the credit for West Michigan’s economic success, the role that local nonprofits play in the community’s health, wealth and wellbeing often goes under-reported and unrecognized. 

Chervon North America will move its headquarters from downtown Grand Rapids to Naperville, Ill., a suburb outside of Chicago.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Jan. 23, 2017.

• M&A: Bryan Betten and Chris Baker, two veteran West Michigan dealership executives, have acquired Grand Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Lowell from former owner Harvey Koning. Betten-Baker is in the process of acquiring the remaining Grand Auto Family Services Inc. dealerships owned by Koning, which include facilities in Grandville, Allegan and Lowell, said Pete Ricards, division director at Betten-Baker. The company also is acquiring a Big Rapids-based GMC dealership from Gary Trimarco Automotive group, but is waiting on manufacturer approval from General Motors to complete both deals. 

GE Aviation Systems Inc. will lay off 74 workers at its Grand Rapids facility.

Kellogg Co. plans to shed 250 positions as part of the global cereal giant’s Project K cost-cutting initiative.

A local developer has scrapped plans for multifamily housing at a proposed twin-tower downtown Grand Rapids development to pursue a hotel tenant instead, MiBiz has learned.

The parent company of the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids has been acquired as part of a $4.6 billion deal.

A pair of longtime homebrewers plan to turn their hobby into a business on the east end of 28th Street.

Essence Restaurant Group will bring its popular Green Well Gastropub restaurant brand to northern Kent County.

Collins & Associates in Grand Rapids has acquired insurance broker SAIF Agency Group Inc. in Kingsley, just south of Traverse City.

The West Michigan office of commercial real estate brokerage Colliers International Inc. has expanded to the Lansing market.

Following a leadership succession plan put into place more than a year ago, Kalamazoo-based First National Bank of Michigan promoted Daniel Bitzer to president and CEO.

Mercantile Bank Corp. today reported higher earnings to end 2016, driven by strong loan growth.

GRAND RAPIDS — Middle-market companies across the Midwest expect smaller sales and employment gains in 2017 than their counterparts nationally, a sign that regional business growth is possibly peaking.

Battle Creek Area Community Federal Credit Union plans to merge into Berrien Springs-based Honor Credit Union.

Grand Haven CPA firm Walburg+Associates PC merged into Brickley DeLong PC in Grand Rapids.

An affiliate of Lansing-based development firm The Gillespie Co. Inc. plans to build a new mixed-use project at 2216 and 2224 East Michigan Ave. in the state’s capitol.

Two veteran West Michigan dealership executives have acquired Grand Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Lowell.

The West Michigan region’s largest airport continues to set records for passenger traffic.

Global food giant Kellogg Co. will be getting a new CFO next month.

Chick-fil-A Inc. seems relentless in its desire to secure a location near Knapp Street and East Beltline Avenue on Grand Rapids’ northeast side.

Schupan & Sons Inc. has acquired a majority interest in Trinity Metals, a metals recycler based in Indianapolis.

Advia Credit Union plans to buy a Wisconsin bank.

After opening its first West Michigan office late last year, Level One Bank has brought on veteran commercial banker Doug Kohlbeck as a senior vice president.

NVINT Services LLC plans to invest $364,000 in a facility expansion project that will allow the West Michigan technology company to adhere to its “aggressive growth trajectory” and meet customer demands.

A recently completed acquisition could help SpartanNash Co. (NASDAQ: SPTN) expand its presence in the food distribution space

Denso International America Inc. has joined the growing rank of organizations developing autonomous vehicle technology in Southeast Michigan.

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.