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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.

Here is the growth report for April 14, 2019.

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.

Directors today named James McGrath as the new president and dean at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

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.

A $4.5 million mixed-use project is in the works for downtown South Haven.

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.

ATLAS Space Operations Inc., a satellite communications service based in Traverse City, has been awarded a prototyping project with the U.S. Air Force’s Missile Systems Center and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Innovation Unit (DIU).

Miniature Custom Manufacturing LLC, a high-volume injection molding manufacturer, is expanding its plant in the township of Vicksburg, 15 miles south of Kalamazoo.

New York-based real estate development and management firm RD Management LLC plans to convert a former Muskegon-area shopping center into a mixed-use development.

Two Ottawa County manufacturers announced major growth projects this week that are expected to generate $25 million in private investment and create more than new 140 jobs.

United Federal Credit Union plans to buy a former Whirlpool Corp. office building in St. Joseph for its new corporate headquarters.

Mercantile Bank Corp. began 2019 with higher earnings and strong loan growth that it expects to continue through the year.

Venture capital funds based in Michigan more than doubled the amount they invested in startups in 2018, although the money went to fewer companies.

Professional services firm BDO USA LLP has relocated its service center to a Franklin Partners LLC building at 5300 Patterson Avenue in Grand Rapids, the development firm announced today.

As PFAS emerged unexpectedly as the latest contamination scare, West Michigan-based companies are stepping up with new services aimed at addressing the problem and helping residents, businesses and regulators find answers.

GRAND RAPIDS — Companies looking to break into the lucrative medical marijuana industry want to ensure their place in line for the city’s lottery process that will determine the order in which their proposals are considered. In an effort to boost their chances of being selected in the lottery, some applicants have submitted multiple proposals — sometimes even for adjacent properties — in concentrated areas where city zoning allows medical marijuana-related businesses.

MUSKEGON — A new travel-friendly schedule at Muskegon County Airport continues to attract new business and leisure travelers, leading to higher overall passenger numbers. Recent spring break travel filled up many flights, and airport officials are even more optimistic as the region gears up for summer travel season.

West Michigan businesses are adapting their strategies to help address the unexpected rise of PFAS contamination as an issue, albeit mostly in measured steps as the quickly changing scenario continues to play out. But regardless of how they are reacting to doing business in the era of intense public scrutiny around PFAS, companies involved in everything from analytical testing to litigation expect the issue to remain front and center for the foreseeable future.

Until a couple of years ago, environmental assessments for property transactions did not include checking for PFAS contamination. Now, it has become standard practice in areas that have confirmed contamination with the family of industrial chemicals. According to legal experts who work in the real estate industry, both buyers and sellers need to complete due diligence when it comes to properties contaminated with PFAS.

Add the contaminant PFAS to the checklist of issues prospective buyers need to consider when acquiring a business. Buyers need to make PFAS part of due diligence in an acquisition, particularly in industries that have a history of products involving the family of chemicals, said attorney Dan Parmeter, a partner at the Grand Rapids office of Mika Meyers PLC.

Four medical schools in Michigan partnered to direct new physicians into areas of the state that are underserved or have a shortage of physicians. Backed by a $5 million budget allocation that the four institutions matched with $1.25 million apiece, the medical schools each placed two additional medical residents this year to train and work in medically underserved areas of Michigan.

Robotics and additive manufacturing markets have entered into a new phase of growth, ripened by an era in which maintaining the status quo is no longer viable for manufacturers who struggle to secure quality labor. That’s because robotic systems are enabling manufacturers to deliver higher quality parts and maximize throughput, said Mark Ermatinger, vice president of sales at Zeeland-based Industrial Control Service Inc., who does not see the “rise” of robots stopping anytime soon.

While 3-D printing technology has been used for decades in prototyping and short-run production, new methods and materials could finally launch additive manufacturing into more widespread, higher-volume uses. The technology has long offered a playground for engineering department experimentation but never really advanced beyond specific niches, according to industry experts.

The boundary between the physical and virtual worlds is blurring as augmented reality gains momentum for uses across a broad range of industries In industrial automation, the implementation of AR could take place sooner than many people might imagine, according to Joe Dyer, team lead for manufacturing technical service at Disher Corp., a Zeeland-based engineering, product and development firm.

Late last year, in a steel and concrete building adjacent to the railroad tracks in Zeeland, a handful of enthusiastic engineers foraged their office for anything that might have interesting data hidden inside. The computed tomography (CT or CAT) technology they were using for the first time has been commonplace for decades in hospitals around the globe, where it is applied to produce cross-sectional images of the body, but it’s also something the manufacturing industry has been “begging for,” Jeff Mass, founder and CEO of Diverse Dimensions Inc., told MiBiz.

The insurance industry in Michigan grew by double digits over a 13-year period and remains poised to grow even more with the cluster of talent based in the state. Those were among the conclusions in a new report that for the first time offers a broad look at the state’s insurance industry, which in 2018 accounted for 4.6 percent of Michigan’s gross domestic output, directly employed more than 80,000 people, and supported another 58,000 jobs indirectly through the purchase of goods and services.

PORTAGE — In the past, First United Credit Union would consider doing a business loan when a member asked about it. Now, after signing on last year with a Portage firm, the small Grandville credit union takes a slightly more proactive approach toward business lending to members.

A new state law preventing environmental regulations from being stricter than the federal government’s could see a test under the Trump administration’s proposal to scale back national water standards. The proposal to redefine the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule would scale back regulations adopted by the Obama administration that set which waters receive protection under the Clean Water Act.

GRAND RAPIDS — Ahead of the impending dissolution of the Kent County Land Bank Authority, the city of Grand Rapids and the Michigan Land Bank are working to form a partnership to allow the local agency’s services to continue under the state banner.

The closure date of a large coal plant along the Lake Michigan shoreline could be moved up under a proposed settlement agreement between Consumers Energy and multiple environmental and energy groups. In late March, the Jackson-based utility announced it had reached a deal with groups over its long-term energy plan, which includes closing all of its coal units and building out thousands of megawatts of solar energy by 2040.

Legislation that state lawmakers in Lansing are considering would raise requirements for how businesses must handle a data breach. The bills would define the sensitive personal information covered and who is responsible for reporting a data breach, and establish processes and timelines for investigating, responding to and publicly reporting an incident. The law would cover entities with 50 or more employees.

While he wouldn’t categorize it as “dire,” a leading Michigan-based consultant said the fundraising climate in Michigan has been better and currently is headed in the wrong direction. Michael Montgomery, owner of Huntington Woods, Mich.-based Montgomery Consulting Inc. and an instructor at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus, lays out the rationale for his predictions in his annual Michigan Fundraising Climate Survey, released at the end of March.

Healthcare Bluebook contracts with 5,000 employers with more than 3 million employees who mostly self-fund their health coverage. Many health plans, such as Grand Rapids-based Priority Health, offer web-based platforms for members to look up prices and get an estimate on what they might pay based on their insurance coverage.

Here is the growth report for April 14, 2019.

Genesis Innovation Group LLC and its affiliated venture capital funds invested in HAPPE Spine LLC, a Grand Rapids startup developing and commercializing a material for orthopedic implants.

Red Cedar Investment Management LLC has relocated to Grand Rapids after landing a veteran investment team that has ambitious growth plans for the firm.

The latest quarterly economic survey from Business Leaders for Michigan shows continued optimism about the state economy, although few executives expect higher growth through 2019 and into next year.