Economic Development

As Grand Rapids adjusts to a new medical marijuana ordinance and as voters consider legalizing recreational marijuana later this year, employers continue to express uncertainty about the future.

The latest economic outlook from Business Leaders for Michigan shows far less optimism for the future among the state’s business executives.

Since opting to allow medical marijuana businesses in July, Grand Rapids has seen a wave of development interest that’s driving up real estate prices and sending city officials scrambling to adapt with new regulations.

A Chicago-based investment firm has purchased a more than 90,000-square-foot industrial property in Ottawa County.

As more high school students eschew enrolling in college, West Michigan technical centers and higher education institutions are searching for ways to push them to different career pathways.

As the West Michigan region continues to grow, many people wonder where it could be headed in the next decade.

Mergers and acquisition activity remained strong in West Michigan through the third quarter, as many sellers opted to go to market while they can still get a good price for their businesses.

Optimism about the economy remained high going into the third quarter among Michigan businesses surveyed by PNC Bank.

Companies and job-placement organizations in West Michigan say an executive order signed by Gov. Rick Snyder comes as a good first step in addressing the state’s skilled trades shortage.

As transportation advocates and urban planners push new mobility strategies, they’re also working to see how new tools may affect the future of traditional mass transit.

As the new President and CEO of Grand Rapids-area Interurban Transit Partnership, known as The Rapid, Andrew Johnson hopes to leverage existing business support to grow the operation. Having previously served as the COO of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in central Illinois, Johnson views West Michigan’s “diversified” economy as a perfect place to start in working toward better transit service. He spoke with MiBiz about the future of The Rapid and how bus service fits into mobility in West Michigan.

In an era when so many businesses rely on information technology systems, seven out of 10 customers that US Signal Co. LLC surveyed say they expect to have at least one unplanned disruption over the next year.

The City of Muskegon wants to buy a shuttered state prison, wrap it into an adjacent industrial park and lure a new company to the lakeshore, MiBiz has learned.

In politically conservative Calhoun County, Scott Fleming embraces the economic potential of legal marijuana businesses.

While Detroit’s record-setting municipal bankruptcy may be a distant memory, many business leaders around the state still view the financial health of Michigan’s municipalities as a potential ticking time bomb.

As a veteran attorney representing Michigan cities, townships and villages, Mark Nettleton says his clients mostly find themselves on solid fiscal footing these days. The Mika Meyers PLC attorney believes the state’s municipalities have learned the lessons of the Great Recession and are now investing conservatively in large infrastructure projects and working to ensure they’re complying with increased state mandates around the proper funding of legacy benefits. He spoke with MiBiz about the fiscal health of the state’s many local units of government.

Grand Valley State University researchers have found the benefits outweigh the costs of Grand Rapids’ investment in green infrastructure to limit stormwater runoff.

The number of companies that relocate or expand in a specific area because of economic development incentives is largely “exaggerated.” That’s according to a new report from Tim Bartik, senior economist with the Upjohn Institute in Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO — Officials in Kalamazoo hope that a shift in structure for its Downtown Development Authority will spur new projects and encourage continued investment in placemaking initiatives.

Fluctuating water levels remain a fact of life along the West Michigan coast and for inland lakes.

GRAND RAPIDS — A change in policy implemented earlier this month by the City of Grand Rapids could boost inventory for affordable housing organizations.

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.