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Holo Footwear shoes. Holo Footwear shoes. COURTESY PHOTO

Footwear manufacturer Holo relocating from West Coast to West Michigan

BY Monday, June 27, 2022 03:58pm

Sustainability-focused outdoor shoe manufacturer Holo Footwear Inc. plans to move its headquarters from Portland, Ore. to downtown Grand Rapids, state and local economic development officials announced today.

The minority-owned company expects to create 61 jobs as part of the $1.5 million capital investment in a new headquarters at 50 Louis St. NW, just blocks from Rosa Parks Circle and Van Andel Arena.

Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO Quentin Messer Jr. in a statement called the move a “win for West Michigan and for the entire state.”

Launched in Portland in 2020, Holo manufactures shoes from recycled materials at price points ranging from $50 to $100. Holo shoes are sold through major outdoor apparel retailers including Nordstrom, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s and REI. 

Grand Rapids competed with potential locations in North Carolina and Oregon to host the new headquarters, according to state and local economic development officials. Access to talent and industry experts made West Michigan a good fit, said Holo founder Rommel Vega. 

“It’s a fantastic environment for our business, with access to talented designers and people from the footwear industry. We’re excited to get to work to create stylish, responsible and functional outdoor footwear,” Vega said in a statement.

Vega also told business publication Portland Inno early this month that he was able to secure venture capital more easily in the Midwest compared to Portland. The company’s soon-to-close $5 million seed round reportedly included funds in Michigan and Chicago.

Proximity to West Michigan’s existing outdoor recreation industry and a $250,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the MEDC helped to seal the deal. 

“With the strong talent pool and robust economic environment, not to mention the amazing outdoor recreational playground that West Michigan has to offer, we think Holo Footwear will thrive here in the region,” The Right Place Inc. Vice President Brent Case said in a statement. The outdoor recreation industry contributes about $9.5 billion to Michigan’s GDP annually.

Holo plans to take advantage of the existing industry by building connections in the region, partnering with local outdoor recreation businesses and becoming a place for design students to launch their careers. 

The company’s e-commerce operations will also be based in West Michigan. Together, the headquarters and e-commerce operations are expected to generate about 61 high-wage manufacturing jobs in the region. Holo has signed the lease for the new headquarters and has started hiring. The Right Place will continue to partner with Holo to fill the new positions, officials said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lauded the MEDC’s efforts in bringing Holo to the region. 

“Today’s investment from Holo Footwear will create 61 good-paying jobs in West Michigan and help our state’s economy keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Over the last year, we have worked across the aisle in Michigan to empower MEDC to compete for every project and every job. … We will continue working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Michigan’s innovative businesses and hardworking people can thrive.”

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