GRAND RAPIDS — In offering increased transit service along one of West Michigan’s densest employment corridors, Grand Rapids officials hope to fulfill a goal of one of the city’s key urban planning documents.
Comerica Inc. Chief Economist Robert Dye sees Michigan’s economy performing in the second half of 2018 much as it has in the first half, with continued growth but at a decidedly slower rate than in past years.
MACKINAC ISLAND — Michigan political and business leaders generally agree that the state’s infrastructure, workforce development and talent efforts need further investment.
MACKINAC ISLAND — It’s been nearly one year since Kalamazoo became a “laboratory” for a new form of philanthropy-backed municipal finance.
Citing onerous and biased rule-making functions at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce has long sought to reform the agency’s regulatory process.
GRAND RAPIDS — The old adage that development follows transit has proven slow to materialize along the Silver Line bus rapid transit (BRT) route through southern Kent County.
After the large gains made coming out of the recession nearly a decade ago, Michigan’s small business climate shows signs of losing momentum for continued improvement.
New economic data shows Michigan’s economy continues to improve, even as the state remains in the middle of the pack for business according to a ranking from national executives.
GRAND RAPIDS –– An array of organizations in West Michigan have launched new initiatives aimed at bridging the wealth gap in a region characterized by vast income disparities.
Michigan’s manufacturing industry could stand to gain jobs if the U.S. were to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to an analysis from economists at the University of Michigan.
Congress controls the purse strings, and if last year is any indication, it will rebuff the Trump administration’s effort to gut hundreds of millions of dollars in federal spending for the Great Lakes.
GRAND RAPIDS –– The Grand River helped to make Grand Rapids “Furniture City” more than a century ago, and now many believe that Michigan’s longest river will soon revert from a largely passive asset back to an active one.
Water is the lifeblood for West Michigan communities. In this special report, MiBiz examines how the local economy is shaped by its access to water and wilderness, both of which are becoming increasingly important for the region’s quality of life — and talent attraction.
While closing coal-fired power plants is often lauded for improving air quality, it’s also saving billions of gallons of water a year from being withdrawn from the Great Lakes and local resources.
Similar to the city that borders its shores, Muskegon Lake’s progress has experienced setbacks and successes, with many different groups working behind the scenes to position the lake as an attractive place to live, work and play.
LANSING –– The crowded field of candidates seeking to become Michigan’s next governor offer distinctly different views for how they would shape the state’s economic development policy.
Closer to Nature: Kalamazoo Nature Center works behind the scenes to unite community with the outdoorsWritten by Jane C. Simons
KALAMAZOO — The public’s view of the Kalamazoo Nature Center is one of beautifully preserved nature trails, numerous wildlife habitats, and a safe haven within the urban areas surrounding it.
The final goal will take years to accomplish, but the early data coming in from a long-term project to clear the waters of Lake Macatawa and the surrounding watershed has been trending in the right direction.
For all of the arctic grayling’s remarkableness, the mechanics behind its eventual extinction in Michigan is a story all too common.
A broad statewide partnership is examining what it would take to reintroduce a native fish that disappeared from Michigan waters more than 80 years ago.
MUSKEGON –– It’s taken years, but demand for rental residential units in downtown Muskegon appears to be on the upswing.
Snaking across eastern and northern Ottawa County on its way to Lake Michigan, the Grand River provides much more than a source of recreation and a home to aquatic wildlife.
Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed final state budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars in one-time investments, increased funding for roads and years-long fees to support environmental initiatives.
GRAND RAPIDS –– The city of Grand Rapids over the next year will join the growing ranks of cities around the world seeking to enhance their data management practices.
President Trump’s recent decision to impose tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels will raise prices for consumers and eliminate more jobs than they create, experts say.
Utility customers across the state could be refunded hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of the federal tax overhaul that passed in December, reducing the corporate income tax rate.
As president and CEO of Ada-based construction management firm Dan Vos Construction Co. Inc., Dan Vos would like to continue to see the pro-business philosophy that’s been on display in Michigan for nearly the last decade. Vos generally thinks 2018 will continue the momentum of the past few years, although he harbors some concern over burnout from the firm’s lengthy pipeline of work.
Tasha Blackmon becomes CEO of Cherry Health on April 1, 2018, succeeding long-time chief executive Chris Shea, who retires on March 31. Blackmon will move into the CEO’s position of the largest federally qualified health center in Michigan — with 20 locations in Kent, Barry, Eaton, Montcalm, Muskegon and Wayne counties and some 70,000 patients annually — after serving as chief of operations.
As the end of 2017 approached, Grand Rapids-based Independent Bank Corp. cut a deal to buy TCSB Bancorp Inc. in Traverse City, the parent company of Traverse City State Bank. The $63.2 million deal, which is expected to close in the first half of 2018 pending approval from regulators and TCSB Bancorp shareholders, would extend Independent Bank’s presence in northwestern Michigan, where Traverse City State Bank has five offices and assets of $346.9 million. Independent Bank, which opened lending offices in Traverse City and other markets this year, has 65 branches across the Lower Peninsula with total assets of $2.75 billion as of Sept. 30.
Brian Walker continues to believe the overall fundamentals of the economy remain strong, but the ongoing wave of nationalism and demonstrations of military might cause him some degree of concern. The president and CEO of Zeeland-based office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc. (Nasdaq: MLHR) counts on free and open access for the trading of goods for his company’s continued success. Meanwhile, the continued “geopolitical noise” from external events like Brexit only creates uncertainty, he told MiBiz at the recent Business Leaders for Michigan CEO Summit in Detroit.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) publishes the quarterly Architectural Billings Index (ABI), which is generally viewed as a leading indicator for the construction industry. While the data fluctuated throughout the year, architects’ billings have been largely positive, according to the Washington, D.C. trade association. Heading into 2018, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker generally expects more of the same, albeit with some uncertainty surrounding national policy issues.
Tom Welch thinks the U.S. economy in 2018 will perform much as it did in 2017 with steady growth and further tightening of the labor market, the latter of which rates as his biggest concern. He said that, mixed with high business confidence and a boost from the expected passage of federal tax reform, the economy should generate plenty of commercial lending opportunity for Cincinnati, Ohio-based Fifth Third, the deposit market leader in West Michigan. Welsh also believes the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates further in 2018, while inflation should remain relatively low.
One of the biggest issues Carl Bednarski expects to deal with in 2018 is the national Farm Bill, which will address agricultural concerns in infrastructure, crop insurance and exports. The president of the Michigan Farm Bureau discussed what legislation will affect the agricultural community the most.
While 480 square feet of space may not seem huge for a taproom, it offers The Peoples Cider Co. needed visibility along the burgeoning West Leonard Street corridor in Grand Rapids. Owner Jason Lummen opened his new taproom in late October on a strip with a distillery and a brewery, which he hopes will create new synergies. The proximity to the other producers has increased the company’s exposure, as well as freed space at his production facility on Maryland Avenue in the Oak Industrial Park. Lummen’s operation currently produces about 200 barrels per year and he hopes that separating his taproom from his production operation offers room for growth. He describes business at the new facility in one word:
Annual increases in premiums for employee health coverage were mostly moderate in 2017. It’s a trend from the last few years that Shannon Enders, managing partner at Lakeshore Employee Benefits in Norton Shores, said largely continued for employers who renewed policies for 2018. Enders is also seeing more employers offering various options for employee health benefits, and some are even wondering whether they have gone too far in shifting the costs for health coverage onto employees.
Sam Cummings will be the first to acknowledge that he’s got a lot of office and retail space to fill in downtown Grand Rapids next year, with redevelopment work underway at 50 Monroe Ave. NW and unspecified plans in the coming years for the downtown Fifth Third Bank campus, which has been dubbed Vandenberg Center. Cummings says CWD plans to work diligently over the next year to attract large corporate users, bring more activity to ground-floor spaces and focus on the fundamentals of real estate development.
Decreases in funding from both governmental agencies and other funders who support the needs of the LGBTQ community are cause for concern as Outfront Kalamazoo goes into 2018. Executive Director Jay Maddock said his social justice organization relies on grant funding, individual giving and successful fundraising events, meaning that any hit to the economy will affect all areas of the group’s funding.
Jeff Mason took over in mid July as CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. after eight years of running the University Research Corridor, a coalition of the state’s top three research universities including Michigan State, Wayne State and the University of Michigan. According to Mason, talent remains the top issue for the MEDC, particularly as the state’s economy continues to grow.