Economic Development

Major Michigan business groups say a statewide ballot initiative to change the way legislative districts are drawn is flawed and unnecessary, but supporters believe the plan would help achieve shared policy goals and restore public faith in politics. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Advocates looking to alleviate the city’s affordable housing issues increasingly are turning to modular, pre-manufactured housing as one option. 

Talent issues dominate most business discussions these days, and that’s certainly true among entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids’ restaurant scene. 

A struggle to find dedicated staff willing to work for minimum wage has one Grand Rapids pizza shop shifting to a focus on technology. 

 GRAND RAPIDS — A proposed ordinance would limit businesses operating in the medical marijuana industry to approximately 40 sites across the city.

LANSING — The Small Business Association of Michigan wants to build on the state’s past efforts in economic development policy while also creating continuity from one governor’s administration to the next.

New issues have become top of mind for West Michigan economic developers and economists.

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.

Brian Long anticipated by now to see proof that the U.S. economy had started to flatten out. 

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. 

Citing the effects of federal tax reform at the end of 2017, top business executives expect both the U.S. and state economies to maintain growth in the months ahead. 

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.

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.

Every year, the Crystal Ball edition from MiBiz offers insights, economic sentiment and forward-looking strategies from West Michigan’s business leaders. Here’s what they had to say about 2018.

In the dozens of interviews with West Michigan executives for this special edition, the notion of momentum — whether within the overall economy, their industry or their company — seemed to dominate their outlook for next year.

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.

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