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Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce members share concerns over energy, health care policy and talent development, and those are the issues the organization will focus on in 2016, according to Andy Johnston, the group’s vice president of government and corporate affairs.

Q&A: Herm Baker, Owner, Vertigo Music

Written by | Sunday, 20 December 2015 23:37 |

As owner of Vertigo Music, a new and used music store on South Division Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids, Herm Baker has weathered tectonic shifts in how people listen to music, not to mention major changes to the commercial landscape in the surrounding Heartside neighborhood.

As West Michigan’s agriculture sector wraps up a strong year, industry leaders plan to focus on several issues heading into 2016.

Beth DeWilde expects hiring in West Michigan’s technology sector to continue at a strong pace in 2016.

Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of Grand Rapids-based The Right Place Inc., weighs in on the changing economic development landscape and how the organization intends to keep West Michigan competitive.

Consumers Credit Union COO Scott Sylvester expects the good fortunes to continue in 2016 for both the industry and Consumers Credit Union, which has about $650 million in assets and nearly 67,000 members through 16 offices in West Michigan.

The growth of private health exchanges and the migration of more employers to self-insured health benefits are the key trends Michigan Association of Health Plans Executive Director Rick Murdock is watching for 201

As chief economist of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Anirban Basu expects 2016 to be another year of modest growth in the range of 2.6 percent, well below the country’s pre-recession average of more than 3 percent.

While lawmakers will likely wait until next year to decide the future of Michigan’s energy policy, Liesl Eichler Clark, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, believes corporate purchases of alternative energy will drive the sector in 2016.

Q&A: Kevin Stotts, President, Talent 2025 Inc.

Written by | Sunday, 20 December 2015 22:31 |

Experts predict that the labor shortage will continue to impact the majority of business sectors in 2016. With West Michigan’s unemployment rate tracking around 3.2 percent, businesses need to focus on retraining workers who are reentering the workforce after leaving in the recession years

Q&A: Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

Written by | Sunday, 20 December 2015 22:28 |

Nearly one year into his first term, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters has spent considerable time working on legislation geared toward small business as a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA) expects North American light vehicle production to grow from approximately 17.5 million units in 2015 to 18 million units in 2016, according to a consensus forecast from its members.

While North American light vehicle sales are in the “late innings”of the recovery — peaking in 2017 at 18.2 million units — Mike Wall at IHS Automotive in Grand Rapids expects production to remain robust through 2020.

For CEO Brian Steketee, Modustri’s experience in West Michigan points to a robust future for the region’s nascent high-tech industry.

Business is booming for crafting industry supplier Notions Marketing in Grand Rapids. The company hired hundreds of new employees in 2015 and is in the middle of a $33 million expansion at its main distribution center as it works to enhance its product offerings.

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