Economic Development

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order today prohibiting employers from discharging, disciplining or otherwise retaliating against employees who show symptoms of or test positive for COVID-19, or are in close contact with someone who does.

GRAND RAPIDS — Public relations and investor relations firm Lambert & Co. has acquired ad agency Fairly Painless Advertising Inc. of Holland.

Michigan is roughly a month away from reaching the “apex” of the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said during a press conference today shortly after ordering school districts to close for the rest of the school year.

Michigan unemployment claims spiked more than 4,000 percent in the second half of March as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered large portions of the state and national economy.

GRAND RAPIDS — Amway Corp. affiliate AHC Hospitality has laid off 1,000 workers and closed all but the downtown Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Rapid has cut capacity to 15 passengers for buses on the Silver Line and other fixed routes, while Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) buses will be limited to 10 passengers. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislative leaders agreed on budget changes this week adding $150 million toward fighting the coronavirus while putting spending on hold for other projects.

The Rapid has told state officials that it anticipates 270 temporary layoffs starting next week to reduce worker exposure to the coronavirus pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS — Restaurant operator Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. today suspended financial guidance and postponed its annual meeting that had been scheduled for May 19.

A coalition of West Michigan business, community and governmental organizations has formed to provide resources to business owners and employees facing confusion amid new restrictions to control the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

Following the passage Friday of the federal CARES Act stimulus package, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today she is expanding access to state unemployment benefits for people who typically don’t qualify, including self-employed and low-wage workers.

The coronavirus that’s affected lives and upended operations across the globe has become the kind of transformational business story that only comes around once every generation.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and federal lawmakers have taken a variety of steps to help businesses and employees navigate the short-term harm posed by the coronavirus. 

As a global pandemic began to hit West Michigan, executives around the region stepped up to lead their organizations and their employees through the time of crisis. 

Panicked consumers stocking up on essential items during the early phases of the coronavirus outbreak have exacerbated what attorneys say are already weak agreements between manufacturers and distributors that spur unscrupulous resellers.

GRAND RAPIDS — Tim Gortsema’s office at Van Andel Arena might not seem like the locale for optimal social distancing. 

Many businesses are grappling with labor issues amid a stay-home order issued by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Now that so many people are working from their basements or spare bedrooms, or like me have a rickety desk setup off to the side in the living room, I want to say: Welcome.

For those getting antsy and in search of the outdoors, the message from Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources is simple: Do it close to home.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded nearly $2 million in grants to Michigan fair housing organizations, the department announced Thursday.

To our readers, advertisers and business partners: Ordinarily, our next print issue would arrive in mailboxes next Monday. But because we are living in extraordinary times, the paper won’t be there.

Retailers in Michigan had at one time expected higher sales through the spring, although the public health crisis that led to the state’s stay-home order this week now has them in uncharted territory.

A series of foundations have partnered to create a relief fund for Mason County organizations serving on the “front line” of efforts to mitigate effects of the coronavirus.

The Muskegon City Commission has approved $150,000 in emergency loans for businesses in the Lakeside Business District that have struggled from a troubled road construction project and forced closures due to the coronavirus.

Michigan business organizations were publicly supportive of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order, although they surely want more clarity on how to proceed.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has escalated the state’s effort to stop the exponential growth in coronavirus cases, issuing a stay-home order for residents and for non-essential businesses to close.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Rapid is reducing its transportation service schedule starting Tuesday, March 24 in an effort to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. 

Major business groups in Michigan are recommending Gov. Gretchen Whitmer avoid a “shelter-in-place” order, warning that such a move to help stop the spread of the coronavirus could be disruptive to supply chains that keep essential facilities like grocery stores and hospitals operating. 

Unemployment claims in Michigan have increased 1,500 percent following the widespread closure of food and entertainment businesses to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today ordered hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, state-operated facilities and dental offices to postpone all “non-essential” procedures as soon as possible and for as long as a state of emergency remains in effect from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers behind the campaign for a statewide graduated income tax have called on top GOP lawmakers to consider allowing online signature gathering because of restrictions imposed by the coronavirus to protect public health.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Rapid, the Grand Rapids metro area public transportation system, is limiting public access to its Central Station and has closed Ehlers Amtrak Station to the public.

University of Michigan economists expect the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic to drive the U.S. economy into recession for the second quarter.

Michigan unemployment claims have increased 550 percent since the state ordered service industry businesses to largely close down to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

ROCKFORD — Citing “heightened uncertainty and recent volatility” related to the coronavirus, footwear and apparel marketer Wolverine World Wide Inc. says it is withdrawing its previous guidance for the 2020 fiscal year.

Michigan employers trying to stay afloat as the coronavirus spreads should consider work sharing or offer temporary leave to employees to avoid layoffs, state officials said today.

Michigan lawmakers have approved $125 million in additional funding to slow the spread of coronavirus, including $50 million to expand emergency health care capacity.

GRAND RAPIDS — Amtrak is suspending all service out of Grand Rapids and Holland effective Thursday, March 19. 

Companies that bought business interruption insurance to guard against losses in case of a major disruption may likely find their coverage won’t protect them from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical and recreational marijuana businesses are determining how to deliver cannabis to customers after the state’s regulatory agency issued temporary rules to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Whitmer’s order this week expanding unemployment benefits is part of a suite of state and federal policy options to shield small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids today issued temporary service changes to aid in preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday evening tightened restrictions on public gatherings to no more than 50 people in a shared indoor space.

The mandated closing today of restaurants, bars and other businesses will contribute to a shallow economic downturn for the West Michigan economy. 

Find MiBiz Coronavirus coverage here.

As progressive political advocates seek lower state income tax rates for most Michigan residents while higher earners pay more for infrastructure needs, the state’s leading business group is bracing for a highly contentious political campaign.

GRAND RAPIDS — Following mixed messages from the Grand Rapids City Commission late last month, marijuana advocates hope city officials will ultimately open more properties for medical and recreational facilities.

Grand Action resumes operations in a far different Grand Rapids than 28 years ago. Now at the helm are Carol Van Andel, Dick DeVos and Tom Welch, the regional president of Fifth Third Bank.