MiBiz readers showed a strong interest in our COVID-19 coverage this year, as well as news about free tuition, business layoffs, bankruptcies, restaurants, beer and marijuana.
Readership of MiBiz.com also grew even as we transitioned to a new paywall model for online stories. It’s been a year like no other — for all of us — and we are grateful for your continued support and interest. (You can subscribe to MiBiz at this link.)
Here’s a look at our top-read stories of 2020:
GRCC program outpaces all
In early 2020 before the pandemic hit, Grand Rapids Community College announced that students who attend high school in Grand Rapids could receive tuition at GRCC, starting with the class of 2020. The plan was approved by the Grand Rapids Promise Zone Authority board. News of the approval was MiBiz’s top-read story of 2020.
COVID-19 was unsurprisingly top of mind
According to web traffic data, six of MiBiz’s top 10 read stories in 2020 involved the pandemic, including the top-read COVID-19 story from March 23 about construction companies first assessing what a statewide stay-home order meant for them. That first week of the pandemic had top-read stories about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first stay-home order, which was opposed by leading business groups but followed similar actions in Illinois and Ohio. Despite not knowing the extent of COVID-19 in mid March — which would lead to nearly 500,000 cases and more than 12,000 deaths in nine months — restaurants and bars at the time were concerned about a statewide stay-home order, which one brewery said would be a “bloodbath” for the industry. More top-read COVID-19 stories included the effects that the pandemic had on furniture manufacturers Herman Miller Inc. and Steelcase Inc.
Local dispensary owner draws interest
A recent year-end Q&A in the MiBiz Crystal Ball issue featured born-and-raised Muskegon resident Greg Maki, who discussed his local roots and early entry into the cannabis market. Maki, the owner of Agri-Med LLC, also discussed why he thinks some West Michigan cities will soon be oversaturated with dispensaries.
Chapter 11 bankruptcies
The past year produced several stories of area companies that had been struggling financially heading into the pandemic and then pushed over the edge. That included Pace Industries LLC, which manufactures die-cast parts and was previously acquired by the former Port City Group operations in Muskegon, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April. Less than two months later, HopCat parent company BarFly Ventures LLC filed for Chapter 11, spurred by ongoing statewide restaurant and bar closures, which affected owner Mark Sellers, who filed for Chapter 11 personally, and later his Max’s South Seas Hideaway bar in Grand Rapids. Other notable bankruptcies in 2020 included Goodrich Quality Theaters Inc. and Grand Rapids-based alternative lifestyle company Purple East Plus Inc.
Hamburger Mary’s makes a splash
MiBiz readers were apparently eager to learn about the Grand Rapids area’s first drag-themed burger bar, Hamburger Mary’s in Cascade Township. MiBiz broke the news in early October about the national chain’s first Michigan location.