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Economic Development

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County municipal officials and business advocacy groups have released an area “welcome plan” meant to address concerns among the immigrant community, including restoring trust with law enforcement agencies and promoting equity in education and business opportunities.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says existing state law provides employers the protection needed should they get sued by an employee or customer alleging they contracted COVID-19 while at work or at a business.

Grand Rapids-based office technology solutions provider Applied Imaging has grown its presence in Florida through a recent acquisition.

WYOMING — Booking Holdings Inc. is downsizing its global workforce, and the move is being felt in West Michigan.

Employers could buy pandemic-related personal protection equipment without having to pay state sales or use taxes under proposed statewide legislation.

GRAND RAPIDS — As fall and winter weather approaches, city of Grand Rapids officials are examining ways to make outdoor seating that restaurants have relied on during the COVID-19 pandemic into a year-round option. 

Ottawa County today issued a stay-in-place order that requires Grand Valley State University to remain in their residences for 14 days.

The 81 employees who were furloughed by national restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s in Kentwood will be laid off permanently.

GRAND RAPIDS — Gerald R. Ford International Airport officials have announced a new expansion project meant to eventually support nonstop international commercial flights.

GRAND RAPIDS — Former Second Lady Jill Biden and congressional candidate Hillary Scholten visited the Kids’ Food Basket headquarters on Tuesday in Grand Rapids to highlight the growing issue of food insecurity.

The trade group for Michigan’s hospitality industry has launched a new campaign seeking state support to further reopen ahead of what’s expected to be a challenging fall and winter after the tourism season ends.

Grand Rapids-based technology and digital consultant OST announced last week an acquisition that would bolster its existing presence in Minneapolis, Minn.

SAUGATUCK — Business and civic leaders along the West Michigan lakeshore realized in March that COVID-19-related shutdowns could have a devastating effect on the already short summer tourism season that fuels the beach towns’ local economies.

This is the MiBiz growth report for September 13, 2020.

MUSKEGON — A federal grant will pay for an analysis on how groups that support entrepreneurs and startup companies in West Michigan can adjust for when the economy emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order clarifying an issue that was lingering over competitive sports across the state.

Three of four key activity indexes for West Michigan’s industrial economy improved in August, furthering the economic rebound of recent months from a deep decline last spring with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stay-home orders.

Two state agencies have joined forces to help businesses understand new workplace safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LANSING — State officials have reached a $35.2 million settlement with a company that will fund the cleanup of underground petroleum pollution at 79 sites statewide, including more than a dozen in Southwest and West Michigan.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order allowing gyms and pools statewide to reopen on Sept. 9 while also greenlighting competitive sports with caution.

LANSING — A bipartisan bill package in the state Legislature would create a pilot program and new tax incentive to promote affordable housing, business development and blight elimination projects in economically distressed areas of Michigan.

Four tribes in Michigan have been awarded nearly $1 million each from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Here is the MiBiz growth report for August 31, 2020.

GRAND RAPIDS — A tax incentive the city of Grand Rapids and an Indianapolis developer unsuccessfully pursued to transform publicly owned riverfront property has only been used twice in Michigan.

Economic conditions for Michigan and across the U.S. should keep improving through 2020 and into 2021, according to recent outlooks.

HOLLAND — Business leaders and elected officials in Holland say the city’s recently approved anti-discrimination ordinance codifying protections for the LGBTQ community will be beneficial for retaining and attracting talent.

Since the Bay Mills Indian Community announced plans in August to launch a vertically integrated cannabis business, accusations about the state’s unwillingness to work with the tribe and the state’s own relative silence highlight what tribal experts say is a complicated web of state regulation and tribal sovereignty.

It’s more than fitting that Bill Stough was the inaugural inductee into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame in 2014 — he has been a driving force in the sustainable business movement both in West Michigan and throughout the state. Stough’s passion for sustainability dates back to 1979, when he joined the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. More recently, Stough served as a founding member of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and just wrapped up his role as president of Sustainable Research Group, which he founded and sold to Grand Rapids-based energy consultancy Foresight Management. Stough is now self-employed and recently reflected on his “long and extremely satisfying career.”

Retailers recorded further improvement in sales for July, as Michigan’s economy rebounds from the deep spring decline resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and state stay-at-home orders.

MUSKEGON — Leaders of the Frauenthal Center have announced the downtown Muskegon event venue will stay closed for public and private events through 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns.

Grand Rapids-based law firm Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey PLC plans to complete the acquisition of Lusk Albertson PLC, a Detroit law firm focused on the education sector, on Aug. 31.

GRAND RAPIDS — Waséyabek Development Co., the non-gaming economic development arm of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Indians, continues to build out its portfolio of companies with the acquisition of a Muskegon-based manufacturer. 

GRAND RAPIDS — A free autonomous shuttle service that launched last year in Grand Rapids but has been sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic plans to resume service Aug. 31 with added safety precautions.

BRIMLEY — The Bay Mills Indian Community views the marijuana industry as a key way for the tribe to diversify its economy, which has been devastated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Indian Country Media LLC is partnering with MiBiz Inc. to launch a new niche business publication. 

Four business groups are urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to consider allowing more facilities including gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen.

PORTAGE — The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport is among more than a dozen U.S. airports where American Airlines plans to suspend service in October because of low demand and a lack of additional federal pandemic relief.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has released $60 million to help disadvantaged students access learning devices, wireless internet, mental health services and other remote learning materials as school districts return with a mix of in-person and virtual instruction.

Michigan leads the nation in the number of employees participating in work sharing, a program that allows partially laid off employees to continue working while still qualifying for a portion of unemployment benefits.

GRAND RAPIDS — A food vendor at Gerald R. Ford International Airport has notified state officials that 84 temporary furloughs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may become permanent layoffs by Oct. 15.

Superintendent Leadriane Roby took the helm at Grand Rapids Public Schools roughly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and was immediately thrown into an immersive process with district staff and students’ parents over how exactly the district would function at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Designating outdoor drinking areas is not only a way to modernize Michigan’s alcohol regulations, but also extends a critical lifeline for restaurants and bars grappling with limited activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sam Gregoire went from college student to small business owner within a few months, driven by the reality that many K-12 schools wouldn’t be returning to in-person instruction this fall.

Husband and wife duo Chris and Stephanie Keenan have spent more than two decades building a sports business outfitted with multiple revenue streams.

MiBiz growth report for August 16, 2020.

Birgit Klohs plans to retire Jan. 31, 2021 after more than three decades of leading The Right Place Inc. Klohs, whose tenure at The Right Place started in 1987 and covered the terms of five Michigan governors, has been at the table for several major economic development initiatives and projects in the Grand Rapids area, often working to drive collaboration and partnerships among various parties that included private and public interests. As she prepares to depart and as The Right Place searches for a new leader, Klohs spoke with MiBiz about her role and how economic development has changed.

LANSING — Four Michigan tribes have been granted permission to participate in a regulatory case involving plans to tunnel the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, giving three of them an opportunity to formally assert their treaty rights this way for the first time.

GRAND RAPIDS — Gerald R. Ford International Airport is trying out a new robot and other tools that disinfect using ultraviolet (UV) technology in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.