Breaking News

Michigan’s handling of past chemical contamination incidents offers perspective on what it’s going to take to clean up the state’s PFAS problems. Expect it to take decades, billions of dollars and some awkward dances of cooperation. Reporting on PFAS to date has focused mostly on environmental concerns and pointing blame at the companies and organizations that have discharged the emerging contaminant into water supplies. MiBiz's three-part series will go beyond the heated rhetoric to offer a dose of reality about how to handle the complex challenges stemming from the equally complex chemical.

The path to cleaning up man-made chemical contamination is expensive, complex and can take generations. That’s according to Richard Rediske, senior program manager and professor of environmental chemistry at Grand Valley State University’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute. Rediske, an expert on PFAS, has worked with the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Remediation, the group that for years has been chronicling contamination at the former Wolverine World Wide Inc. tannery site in Rockford.

As the scope of PFAS contamination continues to grow nationwide, lawmakers in other states increasingly are taking note of how the situation is being handled in Michigan. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, recruited about 30 members of Congress “from virtually every part of the county” to join a bipartisan “PFAS taskforce” he formed with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Pennsylvania.

The practice of environmental law in the United States has evolved to better define who is liable for contamination cleanups. That’s according to veteran environmental lawyer Alan Schwartz, a member of Grand Rapids-based Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC.

Michigan needs to buckle up for a long, long ride on the PFAS rollercoaster. If history is any guide, coming up with workable solutions to PFAS contamination around the state is going to take decades of painstaking work, billions of dollars and many awkward dances of cooperation between companies, government agencies and citizens groups.

After 25 years representing manufacturers in Lansing through the Michigan Manufacturers Association, President and CEO Chuck Hadden is retiring at the end of 2019. He took over leadership of MMA at a nadir for manufacturers, when the fate of the auto industry and its supply chain was a big question mark looming over the state.

MUSKEGON — Shifting dynamics in the automotive industry convinced family-owned Hines Corp., an industrial holding company, to seek a buyer for its Michigan Spring & Stamping LLC operations. The decision came after Michigan Spring successfully launched a new production facility in China in September 2018 in response to demands from a key customer, said George “Bud” Hendrick III, executive vice president of corporate development at Hines Corp.

HUDSONVILLE — SoundOff Signal, a global supplier of LED vehicle lighting, control systems, and electronic warning products, prides itself on a quarter century of “smart design” and hometown service. The Hudsonville-based company started in 1992 with a single innovative solution to a uniquely dangerous problem. At the time, research indicated that motorcyclists were inadvertently leaving their turn signals on after completing a turn, resulting in motorist confusion and leading to serious accidents. SoundOff Signal designed a device that initiated a beeping sound once the turn signal was activated, reminding the cyclist to turn the signal off once a turn was complete.

Key aspects of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first budget proposal involving education and road funding have drawn mixed reactions from the business community, but advocates are aligned in opposition of leveling the tax rate among Michigan companies. Whitmer has proposed reinstating a tax exemption on pensions that was eliminated by former Gov. Rick Snyder, and offsetting the decreased revenue with higher taxes on smaller businesses.

GRAND RAPIDS — Many companies offer employees an anonymous way to report to management various problems, impropriety or other violations, often via a telephone hotline or a dedicated email account. But a new startup company is offering workers a better way to blow the whistle, and in doing so, could allow businesses to get a better handle on potential issues before they spin out of control.

GRAND RAPIDS — A need to generate administrative efficiencies and better compete for talent contributed to driving the affiliation between senior living providers Porter Hills Presbyterian Village Inc. in Grand Rapids and Chelsea-based United Methodist Retirement Communities Inc. 

A $1.4 million line item in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $60.2 billion budget proposal unveiled March 5 calls for a three-year project to catalog “hazardous materials pipelines” that cross Michigan waterways. Department of Natural Resources Director Daniel Eichinger told lawmakers this month the study, spurred by the debate over Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, is needed to fill an information gap about dangers posed to Michigan waters.

GRAND RAPIDS — A capital fund providing commercial real estate bridge loans raised more than $11 million from investors in its first few months and closed on transactions with three borrowers. Red Oak Capital GP LLC of Grand Rapids continues to close monthly on investments from new investors en route to a goal of raising $50 million through a bond offering by the end of 2019, with two six-month extensions if needed. The capital raised goes to a national fund that provides senior lines of credit for commercial real estate deals that do not yet qualify for bank financing.

GRAND RAPIDS — Nearly a year after closing on the acquisition of a community bank on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Lake Michigan Credit Union could extend its footprint further in the Sunshine State. By following members who are migrating south for the warmer climate in retirement, the Grand Rapids-based Lake Michigan Credit Union is presently looking at other community banks in Florida, said President and CEO Sandra Jelinski.

Building the United Way brand and providing a consistent donor experience is imperative for the organization and its affiliates to remain relevant. Those were among the factors that led to the announcement in January of the Van Buren County United Way’s decision to join forces with the United Way of Southwest Michigan for back office operations.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for March 17, 2019.

David Denton says even though e-commerce is affecting the retail market, he’s expecting another good year for the sector from a real estate development perspective. Denton, vice president of real estate brokerage at DAR Development in Grand Rapids, was recently named to the Midwest Real Estate News Hall of Fame and previously served as president of the Commercial Alliance of Realtors.

The founding couple whose initials gave ELK Brewing LLC its name are no longer with the company.

Bronson Healthcare plans to develop a $60 million outpatient cancer pavilion at its downtown campus in Kalamazoo.

A Grand Rapids-based development group has proposed plans to activate Grand Rapids Public Schools’ long-vacant West Leonard Elementary facility.

Priority Health earned more than $137 million across all business segments in 2018, led by strong growth in the bottom line at its core HMO business.

A Mid Michigan medical marijuana company plans to expand after raising more than $30 million in capital.

Michigan has received $10 million from New York City-based Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of a national initiative to address the opioid crisis.

Stryker Corp. today completed the acquisition of OrthoSPace Ltd., an Israeli company that developed a treatment for massive, irreparable rotator cuff tears.

Holt-based Moore Trosper Construction Co. has opened an office in Sault Ste. Marie in an effort to work with the local Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Roll covering manufacturer Vail Rubber Works Inc. plans to invest $8.3 million for a new facility in Southwest Michigan after outgrowing its longtime space in downtown St. Joseph.

The real estate and development arm of Livonia-based Schostak Brothers & Co. has purchased a 950,000-square-foot distribution facility in Grand Rapids.

LITCHFIELD — Proposed commercial-scale maltster Independent Barley & Malt Inc. has signed an exclusive supplier agreement with Maumee, Ohio-based The Andersons Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Litchfield-based Independent Barley & Malt will use The Andersons (Nasdaq: ANDE) to source, supply, deliver and store the malting barley it will use in its operations.

An upcoming open house provides companies a chance to connect with Spectrum Health, the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Valley State University and the Grand Rapids Public Schools. The city and Spectrum Health organized the Meet the Buyers open house for 2-5p.m., Thursday, March 14 at the David D. Hunting YMCA on Lake Michigan Drive in downtown. The open house gives companies a chance to meet with buyers and learn about bidding opportunities with organizations that have $1.5 billion in annual collective buying power.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Department of Public Works and The Right Place Inc. have announced a development partnership for the Kent County Sustainable Business Park. The Department of Public Works announced last year it was issuing a request for information to seek potential tenants for the proposed business park on about 200 acres that it owns in Byron Township and Allegan County, adjacent to its South Kent Landfill.

Page 3 of 112