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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. 

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.

As the economy has recovered from the recession, philanthropic giving nationwide has slowly climbed to an all-time high, in 2015 reaching $373.25 billion, according to a report from the Giving USA Foundation. However, nonprofits rely on funding from other sources as well, and leaders like Carrie Pickett-Erway at Kalamazoo Community Foundation don’t know if those sources will remain secure in the coming year. “We know many of our partners are concerned about major changes they anticipate in state and federal funding,” she said. “Our endowed funds provide a stable source of funding, but would not be able to fill that gap.”

Mindy Ysasi says she is hopeful as she watches employers begin to recognize what it actually takes to solve their talent struggles. Employers have to decide what will make them stand out, whether that means they’re helping people achieve certifications and degrees, focusing on sustainability, hiring people who have a criminal background, or something else, she said. “Because of the market, employers are now saying, ‘What is the root cause?’ Some employers are recognizing that in some of our communities, we have 38 percent unemployment for men of color. I’m really very hopeful, because employers have immense power.” At the same time, Ysasi is concerned with the lack of support going to systems like child care and housing that help people enter the workforce.

For 2017, Rob Collier at the Grand Haven-based Council of Michigan Foundations is keeping one eye on Washington and one on Lansing. Collier cited potentially detrimental proposals coming out of the federal level, with beneficial legislation under review at the state level. 

With the Affordable Care Act on the chopping block for President-elect Trump’s administration, Kyle Caldwell fears the “tremendous amount of investment by nonprofits and foundations into our health care system” could be all for naught in 2017 unless lawmakers find a suitable replacement. Similarly, “there will be challenges to both foundations and nonprofits as the administration looks to … find efficiencies in government spending, and cuts to services to make way for tax cuts,” he said. On both the state and federal level, lawmakers’ decisions in 2017 have the opportunity to greatly impact nonprofits through bills like SB 960, which clarifies property tax policies.

With the year ahead being so difficult to predict, Diana Sieger’s advice to nonprofits is to stay focused and keep doing their work well. She believes organizations like KConnect, whose goal is to bring together groups to collectively solve problems, will be essential in both identifying and addressing issues in 2017.

GRAND RAPIDS — The growth of foundations and an unprecedented transfer of wealth are among trends the nonprofit sector will need to watch in the coming year. 

With the first year under his belt, Cedar Springs Brewing Co. founder and Director of Happiness David Ringler says he’s pleased the company has surpassed its initial projections. The brewery should end the year having produced about 800 barrels of mostly traditional German-style beer, including Küsterer Original Weißbier, which won a bronze medal in the Great American Beer Fest earlier this year. Ringler hopes to add some new equipment to boost production and distribution in the coming year, “but we have no ambitions of growth at all cost.” 

The expansion in the hard cider market cooled last year, with the industry growing just 10.8 percent — a far cry from the 71 percent reported in the prior period, according to market research firm Nielsen. But Andy Sietsema takes those national market trends with a grain of salt, largely because they don’t count craft cideries like Sietsema Cider LLC in their research. “Sales out of our place were up 23.5 percent through this fall,” he said, noting that he also hopes to add two new distribution markets in 2017. According to Sietsema, “constant education” remains a key factor in the industry’s continued growth, even if it’s at a more sustainable rate.

Byron Center-based Pilot Malt House LLC, a supplier of malted grains to the beer and distillery industry, has experienced only growth since its founding in 2012. In that time, the company has expanded from 10 acres to 3,000 acres of barley and could break the 4,000-acre mark in 2017. Earlier this year, Pilot Malt signed a deal with ingredient supplier Country Malt Group to have its products distributed nationwide, which could open new possibilities for continued growth, according to founder and President Erik May. He told MiBiz he’s bullish on the craft beer and distilling industries, even as some signs of weakness emerge.