Economic Development

Economists expect Michigan to maintain economic growth in the coming year, albeit at a slower pace that will further tighten labor markets.

President-elect Donald Trump will enter office in January with an economy that experts say is stable and growing, but one that could probably do better.

The Legislature’s 2016 lame-duck session was marked by both bipartisan agreement on tough policy issues as well as contentious attempts to solve ongoing state problems that nonetheless split along party lines.

As they worry about talent and uncertainty, executives from a cross-section of industries voiced optimism in the pro-business policies pushed by President-elect Donald Trump. 

If you approach Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash with requests for favors for projects in Michigan’s Third Congressional District, he wants you to know that you’re likely wasting your time. As a staunch supporter of limited government and defender of civil liberties begins his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Amash is more than happy with the economic growth happening in the district he represents. But that doesn’t mean he’s about to start earmarking federal dollars or doing one-off favors for the area’s business community. In an exclusive interview with MiBiz, Amash said his job is to defend the Constitution and fight for liberty for all citizens, a position he acknowledges could put him at odds with fellow Republicans and President-elect Donald Trump. 

As coal-fired power plants in West Michigan harbor towns along Lake Michigan get decommissioned, cities like Holland and Muskegon have worried they’ll lose out on federal dredging support, the allocation of which is based on meeting a tonnage threshold for commercial freight at each harbor. That’s why Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga from Michigan’s Second Congressional District was happy to get funds to continue dredging as part of the most recent federal funding initiative.

2016 wasn’t an easy year for Gov. Rick Snyder. But even with Democrats’ near-daily calls for his resignation because of the ongoing Flint water crisis, the businessman-turned-politician still maintains his trademark “relentlessly positive” attitude. With about two years left in his second term, Snyder told MiBiz he remains focused on skilled trades training and tackling issues related to the state’s beleaguered infrastructure. 

In wrapping up her first “whirlwind” year as mayor of Grand Rapids, Rosalynn Bliss aims to build off of the work she started as she looks ahead to 2017. In the new year, Bliss hopes to move the needle on initiatives related to affordable housing and addressing long-standing racial disparities in the city. Additionally, the mayor believes that 2017 will be the year where visible work commences on restoring the rapids to the Grand River. 

Moving into 2017, Democratic U.S. Sen. Gary Peters plans to focus his efforts on cultivating Michigan as a hub for autonomous vehicle technology. For Peters, the state’s future hinges on growing Michigan’s ability to attract investment in autonomous technology. On the other hand, Peters worries that the president-elect’s hands-on economic development policies could leave behind small businesses in the state and elsewhere in the country. Peters spoke with MiBiz about his views on the year ahead and the challenges 2017 may bring.  

As Michigan’s senior U.S. Senator, Debbie Stabenow plans to continue focusing on issues pertaining to small businesses, manufacturing and agriculture. Going into 2017, Stabenow expects to work on legislation that would improve tax credits for small manufacturers, as well as prepare to draft the upcoming Farm Bill. Stabenow spoke with MiBiz about her priorities and outlook for the upcoming year. 

Even with the underlying uncertainty caused by the presidential election, West Michigan manufacturers remain generally optimistic about the year ahead. 

While some industry professionals have raised concerns over subprime lending, rising inventories, incentives and other trends pointing to a downturn in the automotive cycle, the industry should remain healthy in the coming years. That’s according to Mike Wall, director of automotive analysis at IHS Automotive in Grand Rapids, who forecasts North American light vehicle production to close at 17.8 million units this year. While 2017 production is projected to slide to 17.6 million units, he expects it will inch up to 18 million units in 2018 and peak at 18.7 million units in 2020 as new facilities in Mexico come online. Wall spoke with MiBiz about what automotive suppliers in West Michigan should expect in the new year. 

Gavin Brown, the executive director of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA), expects strong production of both commercial and military aircraft continuing into 2017. As demand for long-range aircraft like the Boeing 777 increases, large OEMs will be eying ways to cut costs through production. For West Michigan manufacturers, that presents an opportunity for companies that can adapt to the latest technology and work cost-cutting measures into production, Brown said. However, uncertainty over the trade policies for the incoming presidential administration could cause pain for companies such as Boeing, which plans to sell more aircraft to countries including Iran and Russia. Brown spoke with MiBiz regarding the opportunities and challenges for aerospace suppliers going into 2017. 

The Michigan Legislature on Thursday passed a pair of sweeping, bipartisan energy bills that just days before had divided business groups over whether the policy changes would negatively impact ratepayers.

LOWELL — The early excitement built up over a renewable energy facility in Lowell had begun to fade roughly a year ago, and formally ended on Dec. 1 when local officials moved to permanently cut ties with its operator.

State House lawmakers killed a Senate bill earlier this month that would have provided sportsman’s clubs an exemption from state and local property taxes.

LANSING — Sweeping energy policy reform that has taken nearly two years to move through the state Legislature could face a contentious debate during the remaining days of the post-election lame duck session.

For the past two and half years, Hilary Dulany has been traveling between Oregon and Michigan to grow her small businesses amid the transformational change happening with the legal marijuana industry.

As Michigan legislators prepare to enter their final session of the year, policy watchers across the state are closely monitoring legislation that could get a vote in the lame duck session. 

When Brink Farms Inc. began construction on a rail yard off Turner Avenue in northwest Grand Rapids in 2014, the Hamilton-based bulk transportation firm hoped to alleviate capacity constraints and better serve customers shipping cargo south through the city. 

KALAMAZOO — Researchers at the Michigan Geological Survey hope a state grant will better position government, businesses and other stakeholders to understand the natural resources that lie under the ground. 

While considering buying an all-wheel-drive Tesla Model S electric vehicle in 2014, Jim MacInnes had to drive roughly four hours to Windsor, Ontario to give it a test drive.

Eight years after voters approved the use of medical marijuana, Michigan lawmakers have agreed to a regulatory framework for the commercial growing and selling of marijuana to qualified patients.

As Jackson-based Consumers Energy looks to build a statewide electric vehicle charging network, other companies in the sector have raised concerns about maintaining competition in the marketplace, both for vendors and drivers.

Twelve Michigan food processing and agriculture companies will travel to Shanghai and Shenzhen, China next month on a trade mission with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

At least two Republican-controlled state House seats in West Michigan are expected to be competitive in the Nov. 8 election as Democrats set lofty goals to retake a majority in the lower chamber.

It’s an oft-heard line that you can be fired in Michigan just for being gay.

When Deschutes Brewery founder Gary Fish launched a two-year search to locate the Oregon company’s first satellite production facility, one of his top criteria was determining whether the state and local community wanted his business.

Earlier this month, the state Legislature adjourned for most of the summer so lawmakers can focus on constituent issues in their home districts, as well as this year’s election. 

While most reports show the fundamentals of the West Michigan economy remain strong, economists and local executives warn we’re closer to the next recession than we are to the previous one. In this special report, MiBiz takes a mid-year look at the Michigan economy and what the experts say lies ahead.

A handful of economic outlooks and surveys signal that Michigan’s economy should continue on an upward trajectory for the second half of this year and into 2017. 

While ongoing crises with the Detroit Public Schools and Flint’s poisoned water get the majority of headlines, Gov. Rick Snyder says he’s committed to tackling a number of other important issues around the state. The term-limited governor says the remainder of his two years in office will focus on fixing problems, everything from determining how Michigan will fund much-needed infrastructure upgrades to positioning the state as a hub for mobility. Snyder sat down with MiBiz for a wide-ranging discussion during the Mackinac Policy Conference in early June. 

Even though a pair of sweeping energy reform bills advanced in the state Senate late last month, key business groups stood opposed to the plans. 

West Michigan’s construction executives hold to the notion that the region’s industry will continue to accelerate for the foreseeable future, despite increasing concerns of a broader economic slowdown. 

The build-out of West Michigan’s nascent startup and entrepreneurial support network will be a marathon, not a sprint. 

Both the Michigan and U.S. economy are plugging along in fairly good shape, although just about everybody would like to see a higher rate of growth.

consortium of academics, government officials and industry leaders wants to refocus the state on wood products and create a hub for bio-materials produced from Michigan’s forests.

handful of economic outlooks and surveys signal that Michigan’s economy should continue on an upward trajectory for the second half of this year and into 2017. 

In 2009, Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard met with then-gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder to discuss tax policy at an Applebee’s off I-96 near Okemos.

LANSING — A mid-Michigan particle accelerator has taken the next step in an ambitious expansion plan that would position the company to capitalize on the multi-billion dollar market for medical isotopes.

West Michigan’s business community says it has a vested interest in how well third-graders can read. 

Charter boat captains and small businesses along the lakeshore are bracing for potential rough seas this year in Lake Michigan’s $16 million charter fishery.

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