Published in Economic Development’s most-read stories of 2019

BY Friday, January 03, 2020 10:39am

Readers in 2019 turned to for myriad exclusive reporting and news scoops. 

What sets this most-read stories list apart from previous years was the overall diversity in the most popular stories, which ranged from breaking news about M&A, lawsuits, layoffs and expansions to MiBiz exclusive reporting on West Michigan’s real estate, manufacturing, health care and craft beverage industries, among others. 

Here’s a look back at the most popular stories on in 2019.

1. Spanish brewer Mahou to acquire Founders Brewing

MiBiz broke international news that Founders Brewing Co. planned to sell a majority stake in the business to the brewery’s Spain-based minority shareholder, Mahou San-Miguel Group. 

2. Kalamazoo-area physician group to switch hospital affiliation to Bronson

More than 60 care providers from Portage Physicians P.C. plan to switch from Ascension Borgess and instead affiliate with Bronson Healthcare, effective July 1, 2020.

3. Developer 616 Lofts files for bankruptcy

616 Lofts LLC, a developer of approximately 500,000 square feet of residential and commercial space in the Grand Rapids, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan. MiBiz was the first to report on the bankruptcy. 

4. Amway cuts 47 positions, more layoffs to come

Global direct-selling giant Amway Corp. in mid-September eliminated 47 information technology positions in another round of cuts to its local workforce, which are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. 

5. Facing insolvency, Gill Corp. seeks ‘exorbitant demands,’ customer alleges in bombshell lawsuit

A bombshell lawsuit first reported by MiBiz alleged that Grand Rapids-based Tier 1 automotive supplier Gill Corp. demanded “ransom” from its customers as the metal stamper dissolves its operations. The case was later settled out of court. 

6. West Michigan brewery agrees to name change in trademark case settlement

A West Michigan brewpub in planning has agreed to change its name to Alebird Taphouse and Brewery as part of a settlement in a trademark infringement case brought by Railtown Brewing Co.

7. Grand Rapids airport announces $90M expansion

The $90 million “Project Elevate” expansion at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport will aid in economic development in West Michigan as well as ease and expand passenger experience. 

8. Kingma’s Market to close Ada store 18 months after opening

Kingma’s Market announced in January 2019 that it was closing its store in Ada almost 18 months after opening the second location.

9. Craft beverage producers sue MLCC, allege unconstitutional state laws, enforcement

Tensions between Michigan craft beverage producers and the state regulatory agency appear to be ratcheting up with the filing of a federal lawsuit that alleges the Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s enforcement actions and revisions to state liquor code enacted in 2018 are unconstitutional.

10. Grand Rapids Whitewater secures $4.4 million in new funding, names new CEO

The Grand Rapids Whitewater nonprofit secured $4.4 million in new public and foundation funding for its restoration efforts of the Grand River through the city.

11. Insurance giant Acrisure to move HQ to Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids

Acrisure LLC, a Caledonia-based insurance brokerage, is moving its global headquarters and 400 jobs from Caledonia to the new Studio Park development in downtown Grand Rapids.

12. Brewers’ charitable donations face MLCC scrutiny

After more than 30 Michigan breweries joined with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in a national effort to raise funds to support victims of the catastrophic Camp Fire in northern California, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission raised red flags that their actions could amount to a violation of state code. 

13. New owner acquires Local 741, plans to open new neighborhood bar

New ownership detailed plans to turn Local 741 into a neighborhood bar after acquiring the site from a partnership involving an affiliate of Third Coast Development LLC.

14. Buell motorcycle brand revives production in Grand Rapids

The executives behind an iconic American superbike brand are breathing new life into the company and relaunching “boutique” motorcycle production in West Michigan.

15. Proposed project would revive Gaia Cafe, The DAAC in GR’s Creston neighborhood

Three Grand Rapids women on a mission to “keep Creston funky” have entered into a partnership to bring back Gaia Cafe and The Division Avenue Arts Collective LLC, this time in the city’s north quarter neighborhood.

16. Ex-Amway exec acquires 3 West Michigan Herman Miller dealerships

After a 40-year career at direct-selling giant Amway Corp., former Vice Chairman Bill Payne wanted to find a way to stay involved in the West Michigan business community. That’s why Payne jumped at the opportunity to acquire three Herman Miller Inc. office furniture stores in West Michigan from Detroit-based dealer MarxModa Inc.

17. Pabst Brewing taps West Michigan distillery for new line of whiskey

Pabst Brewing Co. appears to be jumping into the spirits product category with the help of a West Michigan company: New Holland Brewing Co. The exclusive reporting in MiBiz was later cited in national and international articles on the new product. 

18. Cedar Springs Brewing plans German-style beer hall on Bridge Street

Cedar Springs Brewing Co. will join the bustling craft beverage scene on Bridge Street with a new satellite taproom and brewery. 

19. Hemp farmers see ‘low-hanging fruit,’ uncertainty amid CBD boom

The burgeoning market for CBD, a health product derived from cannabis plants that avoid the “high” from marijuana, is considered “low-hanging fruit” for the nearly 600 Michigan farmers now growing hemp.

20. Founders Brewing, Mahou San-Miguel acquire majority stake in Colorado brewery

Founders Brewing Co. partnered with its Spanish investors to acquire a majority stake in Avery Brewing Co., a Boulder, Colo.-based craft brewery.

21. Lawsuit alleges Meritage took Anna’s House concept after deal talks stalled

22. Amstore to close Grand Rapids headquarters, lay off 133 workers

23. Muskegon manufacturer to offer custom-made distillery equipment

24. Meijer family donates $19.5 million for new MSU facility in downtown Grand Rapids

25. Ablative Solutions secures $77 million in largest known VC deal in Michigan

26. GHSP to expand, relocate headquarters to Holland

27. Michigan marijuana businesses spar amid regulatory uncertainty

28. Ada gains steam with new businesses

29. Gray Skies Distillery rebrands after trademark dispute

30. TAKE TWO: $30 million office development proposed for Studio Park

Read 2610 times Last modified on Friday, 03 January 2020 10:40