Economic Development

Five weeks before a pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio rocked the nation, community leaders in Grand Rapids held a press conference on the city’s southeast side to address the city’s recent spike in gun violence. 

Don’t expect Michigan’s burgeoning cannabis sector to be a repeat of the state’s booming craft beer business. 

Native American tribes that want to participate in Michigan’s fledgling cannabis industry face many bureaucratic hurdles.

News stories published over the past three months have said the Michigan State Police was preparing to both “crack down” on black market marijuana activity and also let it “slide” because of a lack of resources.

Nearly 600 Michigan communities have reportedly opted out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses, which experts say is the result of uncertainty clouding the 2018 ballot initiative.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Aug. 19, 2019:

WALKER — A federal agency has accused supercenter retailer Meijer Inc. of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act over its treatment of an employee at a store in Oakland County in Southeast Michigan.

ALLENDALE TWP. — BizStream Inc., an Allendale Township-based online marketing and software solutions company, plans to expand with backing from the state. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurant operator Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. continues its growth spurt with a pair of deals to acquire the assets of 10 Wendy’s restaurants in Georgia and Texas. 

The latest outlook survey by Business Leaders for Michigan points to a stable state economy or slower growth in the months ahead with continued business investments.

BATTLE CREEK — The board of directors at Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) extended the contract of President & CEO Joe Sobieralski through June 2022. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Engineering firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc. acquired Northwest Consultants Inc., a civil engineering firm in Toledo, Ohio.

MUSKEGON — The precarious state of the historic LST-393 Veterans Museum could help spur a major milestone in Muskegon’s waterfront development.

bipartisan group of state lawmakers wants Michigan to be a national leader in building out a connected network of electric vehicle charging stations, a key barrier to adoption as automakers plan more electric models for customers. 

Jason Shamblin liked West Michigan each time his family visited, so he decided he might as well work and live here. When the opportunity arose, he applied to become Ottawa County’s new parks and recreation director.

Here is the growth report for July 21, 2019.

Law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP opened an office in suburban Detroit.

Unseasonably rainy weather coupled with near record-high Great Lakes water levels have left many West Michigan business owners hoping the region will dry out in time to salvage the season for visitors and tourists.

GRAND RAPIDS — Two senior officials are planning to leave the city’s planning and development departments for new opportunities, MiBiz has learned.

MUSKEGON — The city of Muskegon has purchased the former West Shoreline Correctional Facility, the Michigan Land Bank Fast Track Authority announced today.

MUSKEGON — Jim Edmonson’s return to a position he first held 15 years ago provides momentum for Muskegon Area First, whose directors are planning for the future after restructuring the economic development organization into a private-sector-led model.

When tobacco companies settled claims with dozens of states in the late 1990s over the use of deceptive marketing tactics, trial lawyers took home billions of dollars in what remains a contentious example of lawyers’ fees for representing the government.

MUSKGEON — Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. LLC plans to keep the beer flowing at its Western Avenue taproom for now, while fine-tuning brewing operations in its new facility.

MUSKEGON — City leaders continue to explore ways to move Muskegon’s retail sector forward by enhancing business districts outside of the downtown core.

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurant operator Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. plans to invest $100 million to develop 40 new Wendy’s restaurants.

State lawmakers are pushing once again to expand civil rights protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as key legal cases on the issue sit before the U.S. Supreme Court.

GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan’s second-largest city crossed the 200,000-person population milestone for the first time last summer, as communities along the western side of the state posted strong growth.

MUSKEGON — After restructuring into a private-sector-led group, the economic development organization for Muskegon County brought back a prior chief executive.

MACKINAC ISLAND — Education reform took center stage at this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference, the annual gathering of the top business and government leaders in Michigan organized by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Here is the growth report for May 26, 2019.

As the busy summer travel season kicks off with the Memorial Day weekend, the head of the state’s travel bureau expects another record year for Michigan’s tourism industry.

Everybody knows the U.S. economic expansion that’s approaching a decade in duration will eventually come to an end. When that dip will actually occur remains the unknown, as assorted economic outlooks continually predict slower growth ahead, but stop short of forecasting an outright recession.

Vulnerability Discovery & Analysis Labs LLC, a Grand Rapids-based cybersecurity firm, is opening a new headquarters at 5234 Plainfield Ave. NE.

Here is the growth report for May 12, 2019.

Michigan’s medical marijuana market has experienced a flurry of activity in the past two weeks involving court rulings, state guidelines and legislation, and culminating in a showdown within the marijuana business community. The contention hinges on competition between state-licensed and unlicensed businesses and growers.

The economy continued “chugging along” in West Michigan during the early spring, even as economist Brian Long’s monthly survey of industrial purchasing managers again found signs of slower growth.

Private prison operator Geo Group Inc. plans to reopen its closed North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin.

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.

Michigan House Republicans have advanced a pair of bills blocking local units of government from adopting “sanctuary” policies for undocumented immigrants, although critics say the bills could interfere with local law enforcement.

MUSKEGON — Higher Great Lakes water levels this spring should benefit the shipping industry and even recreational boat harbors, but also create shoreline erosion and other problems for docks and piers.

MUSKEGON — Federal guidance on a new incentive program designed to encourage investment in economically-distressed communities comes at an opportune time for Muskegon. Amid an ongoing wave of redevelopment in the city, property investors looking to shield some gains from taxes now have new ways to redeploy their capital and seek returns via Opportunity Zones.

Problems with Michigan’s infrastructure go beyond deteriorating roads and bridges. Michigan also ranks poorly — 42nd among the 50 states — in terms of digital connectivity, according to an annual report on entrepreneurship in the state.

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.

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.

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.

Here is the growth report for April 14, 2019.

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.