Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: Jan. 30, 2023

BY Sunday, January 29, 2023 02:43pm


  • Zeeland-based Disher Corp., an engineering, consulting and product development firm, has acquired leader development organization Leading by Design LLC in what company executives call an “ideal fit.” Disher specializes in talent recruitment, consulting, engineering and manufacturing technology, including helping manufacturers adopt automation into their operations. Leading by Design, which has offices in Zeeland and Grand Rapids, was founded in 2014 and offers personalized leadership training to West Michigan executives. The company’s Lead 24/7 program offers day-long training sessions as well as individual coaching over the course of a year. The deal takes effect April 3. Leading by Design will maintain its name, brand and team, and will operate as a separate entity of Disher Corp. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • Cascade Township-based Mill Steel Co., a distributor of flat-rolled carbon steel, is expanding into the stainless steel and aluminum metal markets following the acquisition of distributors Cleveland Metal Exchange and Chicago Stainless Metal Exchange. The deal is Mill Steel’s largest to date. The company was founded in 1959 and operates five service centers across the U.S. The deal for Cleveland Metal Exchange allows Mill Steel to offer a full range of stainless steel and aluminum products, opening up access to manufacturing, automotive and construction customers as well as markets in the southeast, mid-south and western U.S. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
  • The Grow Store, a family-owned hydroponics and indoor garden center based just south of Traverse City in Garfield Township, was acquired by ​​GrowGeneration Corp. (Nasdaq: GRWG), an expanding Denver, Colo.-based chain. The Grow Store traces its origin to 1997. The deal with GrowGeneration included the company’s inventory and equipment. GrowGeneration also is taking over The Grow Store’s existing location on U.S. 31. With the acquisition, GrowGeneration is expanding its footprint to northern Michigan. The company has seven locations in Michigan, part of its footprint of 60 stores across 16 states. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 



  • Traverse City Whiskey Co. broke ground last week on a $20 million, 70,000-square-foot whiskey production facility in Elmwood Township on the Leelanau Peninsula. The new facility will allow the distillery to better keep up with whiskey demand, which outstripped its current capacity and resulted in the company outsourcing production, according to a statement. Set on a 35-acre parcel, the project includes space for production, aging, processing and packaging, as well as administrative offices, a visitor center, tasting room, and other hospitality offerings. The expansion could boost production capacity to up to 24,000 barrels annually and lead to the creation of 100 new jobs. Grand Rapids-based Mathison | Mathison Architects LLC designed the project, which will be built by Ada-based Erhardt Construction Co.
  • Grand Rapids-based Michigan Turkey Producers Co-Op Inc. received $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bolster its meat processing capacity. The grant will help to expand the company’s Grand Rapids operations and upgrade its 40-year-old hot water system, wastewater treatment facilities and refrigerated trailers to accommodate an expansion. The plant also is adding a shift and doubling its processing capacity to 10 million turkeys annually with help from the grant money. Those plans are in addition to a recent $1.2 million automation upgrade. The grant comes from the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program, part of a $12 million investment to expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity in Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.
  • Caster Concepts Inc., an Albion-based manufacturer of industrial, heavy-duty wheels and casters, is planning a $2 million 16,000-square-foot expansion of its headquarters to accommodate a larger engineering department, additional space for product development and testing, and room for recent business acquisitions. The expansion includes additional office space, truck docks, a larger manufacturing area and new employee facilities. The expansion will bring Caster Concepts’ facility to 90,000 square feet. Jonesville-based D.H. Roberts Construction Inc. is building the addition, which was designed and engineered by Battle Creek-based Driven Design Studio PLLC. Caster Concepts anticipates the space will be completed in March, according to a statement.


Economic development

  • Quentin Messer Jr. will remain head of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. under a new four-year contract. In announcing the contract approved by the MEDC’s Executive Committee, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer cited Messer’s “game-changing leadership” that helped to land more than $13 billion in investments in automotive battery and electric vehicle facilities that promise to produce 13,000 jobs in the state. That includes Gotion Inc.’s planned $2.36 billion investment in a battery plant near Big Rapids that could create up to 2,350 jobs. Messer joined the MEDC as CEO in July 2021. He previously served for six years as president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance.


Higher education

  • Western Michigan University formed a partnership with SkyWest Airlines that provides financial assistance and other benefits to aviation students through the airline’s Pilot Pathway Program and AMT Pathway Program. Students who join the SkyWest AMT Pathway Program qualify for benefits that include mentoring by airline mechanics, enhanced company seniority, up to $4,500 in education assistance and a job interview to become a mechanic at one of SkyWest’s maintenance locations. Students in the SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program can receive tuition reimbursement of up to $15,000 from SkyWest as they achieve certain milestones.
  • Grand Rapids-based Davenport University and Bay City Public Schools signed an agreement that will create 75 new scholarships toward urban education degrees or certificates for students, staff and parents in the school district. Bay City Public Schools is the first school system to take advantage of this new program in mid-Michigan, which Davenport offers to school districts statewide. Partnering school districts are eligible for 75 scholarships, with up to 25 for current students, 25 for school employees, and 25 for parents of students enrolled in the district.
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