Economic Development


ACanadian app developer focused on removing mobility barriers for people with disabilities and the elderly is launching its first commercial deployment in West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — Despite numerous complexities involved with improving the congested Wealthy Street interchange at U.S.-131, city and community leaders seek to create more connectivity with $10 million recently allocated to upgrade the aging infrastructure.

University of Michigan economists expect second-quarter growth for the U.S. economy, although momentum may wane in the latter half of the year as interest rates rise.

Republicans in Lansing have passed another election-year tax cut plan that would reduce the personal income tax, raise Michigan’s earned income tax credit, and create a $500 per-child tax credit.

After a seven-year career in tribal economic development at Waséyabek Development Co. LLC for his tribe, Jimmy TenBrink now finds himself heading up operations for a familiar tribal partner. 

GRAND RAPIDS — A divided Grand Rapids City Commission is granting a 90-day grace period to cannabis operators that are failing to meet social equity goals they promised three years ago while city staff determine a path forward.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials are backing plans that would redesign the Wealthy Street interchange at U.S.-131 to bring the street to grade level while elevating the highway.

Very few Grand Rapids cannabis businesses are fulfilling social equity promises they made three years ago to gain an advantage when applying for a city license, though some city officials say the program is filled with “unattainable” goals.

Here is the MiBiz Growth report for May 9, 2022:

GRAND RAPIDS — Just three out of 11 cannabis dispensaries are fully complying with voluntary social equity commitments they made three years ago to improve their chances of obtaining a license in a highly competitive lottery system, MiBiz has learned.

Muskegon County’s economic development organization has named Marla Schneider as its new president and CEO following a three-year restructuring the organization took on to attract new corporate funders and revamp strategic planning. 

With a rapidly growing number of workplace tasks expected to go digital in the next decade, developing digital skills is key to creating economic opportunities and reducing vulnerability to unemployment. 

With the upcoming closure of the DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center on July 31, minor league basketball team the Grand Rapids Gold is looking for a new home arena.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for April 11, 2022.

After sharply declining at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of small business deals is nearing 2019 levels again as owners find reasons to exit and sellers see companies that have weathered a two-year storm.

GRAND RAPIDS — Patrick Lyoya’s death took place in a Grand Rapids neighborhood long traumatized by icy police-community relations that’s also in the process of a major redevelopment to help overcome long standing underinvestment.

Business leaders voiced strong confidence in the West Michigan economy in a recent survey by economic development organization The Right Place Inc.

Masks are now optional for passengers and visitors at Gerald R. Ford International Airport following a federal court ruling and announcement that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer require mask use.  

The city of Kalamazoo generated $15.4 million in economic impact from more than 40 different local, regional and national sporting events held in 2021, according to a new report. 

Grand Rapids’ public transportation service will receive $15.8 million in federal funding meant to strengthen transportation in U.S. communities. 

WAYLAND — In his four and a half years running Gun Lake Casino, Sal Semola has been an architect of growth in helping the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians strategically expand and solidify its gaming enterprise.

SpartanNash Co. last month released its first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report to track its corporate responsibility efforts, the start of what CEO Tony Sarsam called a “transformational journey” for the Byron Center-based grocery retailer and food distributor.

In the nearly two years since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd and sparked a national wave of civil unrest, the business community has responded with both internal and external commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The $250 million that state officials plan to deploy through competitive grants to extend high-speed internet service represents the biggest push yet to address the digital divide in Michigan.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for April 11, 2022.

Ferris State University recently tapped Bill Pink as its new president after he served in the same role at Grand Rapids Community College since 2017. Pink starts the position in June after being selected over 70 other applicants. He brings to the new role a firm grasp on the state’s economic needs based in part on his active roles in multiple regional and statewide economic development organizations. Pink recently shared his vision for leading Big Rapids-based Ferris State, including overcoming recent enrollment declines and seizing partnerships after a recent $115 million capital campaign.

$200,000 grant will back a Michigan State Medical Society initiative that looks to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care across the state.

A $20,000 Warner Norcross + Judd LLP scholarship for a second-year law student aims to promote greater diversity in the legal profession.

When the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians sought to establish its first 8(a) certified contracting company, the tribe’s economic development arm turned to a key partner within the state of Michigan for help. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. will receive $55 million to connect trails along the Grand River as part of a $4.7 billion infrastructure plan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed today.

HOLLAND — LG Energy Solution Michigan Inc.’s planned $1.7 billion lithium-ion battery manufacturing expansion is poised to spur further opportunities as the company taps new and existing suppliers to support the project.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, none of Davide Uccello’s four West Michigan restaurants offered an online ordering option. Today, at least half of his restaurant’s takeout and delivery orders are placed online.

As co-owner of web and mobile application developer Grand Apps Development LLC, Tyler Kutt and his staff have spent substantial time over the last two years working with clients on launching or refining e-commerce solutions.

Michigan’s retail recreational cannabis market launched just four months before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the state and forced widespread shutdowns and limited in-person shopping.

Recruitment platform Job.com has acquired QCI Healthcare Staffing, a Grand Rapids-based health care staffing agency. The deal was the fourth staffing agency acquisition by Job.com, which seeks to acquire small to medium-sized staffing agencies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LANSING — A deal between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican legislative leaders will put nearly $4.7 billion toward infrastructure improvements across Michigan.

The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a brownfield plan totaling $14 million in state tax capture for Spectrum Health’s Center for Transformation and Innovation that is under construction in Grand Rapids.

Advertisements touting Michigan as a summer vacation destination have begun running in key markets across the state and the Midwest.

MiBiz Senior Writer Mark Sanchez appears on WGVU to discuss efforts to boost broadband internet access in West Michigan, federal funding being deployed to attract health care workers, and how major health insurers will start to factor COVID-19 costs into future rates.

Business and economic development leaders recently released a list of 12 “transformational” projects for Kent County that hope to attract people, as well as public funding, to the region.

Regional business and economic development leaders recently announced a list of 12 “transformational” projects that could reshape Kent County’s ability to attract visitors, new residents and employers.

When Rick Ehrman took the helm of VNN Inc. at the beginning of 2019, he made known his intentions to grow the business through mergers and acquisitions.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for March 14, 2022.

Seven out of 10 executives responding to a recent Business Leaders for Michigan survey say their business now performs better than prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, although labor shortages and inflation concerns persist.

With the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror, dealmaking activity in West Michigan and elsewhere came roaring back in 2021. Flush with capital, private equity flooded the market, while sellers — for a variety of reasons — have newfound reasons for exiting. 

The 2021 merger of Detroit-based TCF Financial Inc. into Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bancshares Inc. created the second-largest bank operating in Michigan.

After the acquisition of a Grand Haven-based emerging tech and media firm, Century Technology Group Inc. is already finalizing plans to integrate it with another portfolio company.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for February 28, 2022.