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Economic Development

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for January 17, 2022.

The longstanding U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which has protected abortion access before fetal viability for 49 years, is set to be directly challenged this year. 

WAYLAND — Warehousing, transportation and third-party logistics company Classic Transportation and Warehousing plans to invest $8.4 million in a new facility.

LANSING — State economic development officials have approved criteria for corporations to meet when seeking assistance from a new $1 billion fund created last month to lure major projects to Michigan.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met virtually on Friday with a group of elected officials, educators, economic developers and business leaders to discuss the direction of her administration’s new Office of Rural Development.

GRAND RAPIDS — Waséyabek Development Co. LLC is venturing into uncharted territories for tribal economic development firms following a new acquisition.

Gun Lake Investments — the non-gaming economic development arm of the Match-E-Be-NashShe-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, or Gun Lake Tribe — has named Monica King as permanent CEO of the organization effective Jan. 1.

Here's the MiBiz growth report for January 3, 2022.

A comprehensive list of mergers and acquisitions covered by MiBiz in 2021.

In a year dominated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, West Michigan’s business community experienced a mix of highs and lows.

Roughly a week after lawmakers passed a $1 billion program to incentivize major advanced automotive projects in Michigan, state energy regulators followed suit today by approving special electricity rates to support such industrial projects.

Economic development leaders and elected officials have mobilized in recent months to attract major advanced manufacturing projects after Ford’s announcement of $11.4 billion in battery and assembly projects in Kentucky and Tennessee. The Right Place Inc. President and CEO Randy Thelen called it the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” foreshadowing multiple new economic development efforts statewide. Thelen recently discussed potential new incentives, as well as labor market forces that are shaping his outlook for the year ahead.

For generations, Grand Rapids was known as the Furniture City, a nod to the area’s legacy industry that specialized in employing craftsmen to turn lumber plucked from the state’s hardwood forests into high-end furnishings. 

If there’s any certainty about 2022, it’s that Michigan policymakers will have billions of federal dollars to distribute for infrastructure and economic development. 

Michigan’s cannabis industry is coming off a record-setting month with $128 billion in recreational sales in October, and industry leaders expect the state’s market to further mature in 2022.

State lawmakers passed a landmark incentive bill last week that “sends a powerful signal” and gives Michigan new tools to compete with other states for major projects, according to the state’s top economic development official. Lawmakers and the Whitmer administration worked out details for the $1 billion Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund following Ford Motor Co.’s announcement in September to invest $11.4 billion and create 11,000 jobs in Tennessee and Kentucky to build facilities that manufacture both electric vehicles and batteries.

Few industries saw a nearly complete tanking in business like airports did with passenger travel during the early stages of the pandemic. However, Gerald R. Ford International Airport has since rebounded to about 80 percent of pre-pandemic travelers, and officials continue to pursue an aggressive capital investment strategy in the years ahead.

Since its founding in 2001, East Lansing-based Stellar Broadband (formerly Spartan Internet) has grown to service nearly 150 Michigan communities with high-speed 1-gigabit internet service.

Grants totaling $150,000 from Bank of America to the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will support internal staff development and ongoing initiatives to support Latino-owned businesses in 2022.

The lifting of initial COVID-19 restrictions on retailers and restaurants brought activity back to downtown Grand Rapids, but officials still see persistent effects on the city’s core that stem from a reduction in downtown office workers.

As the president of Lakeshore Advantage Corp., the economic development organization for Allegan and Ottawa counties, Jennifer Owens is on the frontlines of newly ramped up efforts to land major projects in Michigan. Owens is part of statewide coalitions pushing for more tax incentive tools, which could help in landing new tenants at potential industrial sites on her lakeshore turf.

State lawmakers have passed $1.48 billion in additional spending to provide incentives for major economic development projects and relief for small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

State lawmakers moved quickly last week to advance new economic development incentives, with the House and Senate passing legislation to create new funds and programs to attract major advanced manufacturing projects.

LANSING — The Michigan Senate today passed a trio of bills that would create new state funds to support major corporate economic development projects in the state.

West Michigan’s economy remains strong heading for the end of 2021 with expectations for continued growth in 2022, according to a new outlook from The Right Place Inc.

Major investor-owned utilities Consumers Energy and DTE Energy are seeking expedited approval from state regulators to create new economic development electricity rates aimed at attracting major manufacturing projects.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for December 5, 2021.

Nearly two dozen economic development and trade organizations have formed the Winning Michigan Jobs coalition with the goal of helping the state regain a competitive edge for new jobs and investments.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive directive calling on state agencies to work with the Legislature to spend tens of millions of dollars that Michigan is set to receive for broadband internet under the new federal infrastructure law.

The Pure Michigan travel promotion returned this month with a $3 million campaign to promote the state as a winter destination.

LANSING — The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has appointed four officials to lead in new roles aimed at business attraction, real estate development and site readiness as the state competes for transformational projects. 

LANSING — The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has appointed four officials to lead in new roles aimed at business attraction, real estate development and site readiness as the state competes for transformational projects. 

Revenue generated by online casino gaming and sports betting has reached new record monthly highs in the state, according to data released by the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Regional economic development organization The Right Place Inc. is expanding its services to two new West Michigan counties while working with existing partners to develop full-time business attraction efforts.

Karen Tracey is set to become the majority owner of The Image Shoppe Ltd., a Grand Rapids-based brand marketing firm she helped form nearly two decades ago.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for November 21, 2021.

GRAND RAPIDS — U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters are calling on the Department of the Interior to swiftly issue findings on the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians’ petition for federal recognition, which has been in process for 27 years. 

For the ninth year, MiBiz is putting the spotlight on best practices and excellence related to mergers, acquisitions, capital formation and other types of dealmaking throughout Western Michigan. We are seeking nominations for deals completed between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31 in the following categories:

Women have been slower than men to return to the workforce over the past year and a half. They are more often held back by childcare complications from the pandemic and are likely being dissuaded from returning to frontline positions with low pay.

Jessa Challa’s interest in geographic information system (GIS) mapping led her to start working in 2019 as a software engineer at Grand Rapids-based tech firm Mallowfields LLC. In September, she became CEO of the company.

Here's the MiBiz Growth Report for November 7, 2021.

The investment arms of two West Michigan tribes have partnered to acquire a pair of transportation companies in Holland.

Travel Michigan will once again mount full Pure Michigan tourism campaigns starting for the coming winter travel season and extending into 2022 for the traditional busy summertime.

KALAMAZOO — The new CEO at Southwest Michigan First sees the job as an opportunity to come home to the Midwest and run what he considers “one of the best” economic development organizations in the country.

Technology proved to be a blessing for residents in West Michigan senior care facilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At times, it was the only avenue for these individuals to remain in contact with friends, family and loved ones.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for October 24, 2021.

KALAMAZOO — Southwest Michigan First has selected a new CEO from Las Vegas, roughly eight months after the economic development organization’s previous executive resigned following his controversial hiring.

Internet casino gaming and sports betting operators in Michigan reached a new benchmark in September, combining for $126.1 million in gross revenue for the month.