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As the president of Ada-based Erhardt Construction Co., Ben Wickstrom wants to attract people not only to his firm, but also to the larger construction industry. Wickstrom was one the founding members of the Construction Workforce Development Alliance (CWDA), a group consisting of three local trade associations. He spoke with MiBiz about how the group aims to create a pipeline of workers.

The success of the West Michigan construction and real estate development industries in 2015 will hinge on companies’ ability to develop, attract and retain talent.

Just because more people are getting health coverage through the Affordable Care Act doesn’t necessarily mean they have easier access to the care they need. Care providers need to ensure they have the right capacity so people can get to see a doctor when they need it, said Bill Manns, the president of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids. The move to high-deductible health plans also has some people still struggling to access health care because they can’t afford to pay the deductible. Manns spoke with MiBiz about why those issues need attention in 2015.

Health care costs are moderating and last year grew at the slowest pace in 53 years.

The evolution of West Michigan’s craft brewing industry can be measured in more ways than the growing volume of beer they produce.

Credit and capital remain readily available for companies seeking to make an acquisition or pursuing investors in 2015.

West Michigan’s furniture manufacturers seem to have hit their stride. Despite projections cooling off from earlier in 2014, the outlook for the industry looks bright next year – driven by pent-up demand and greater willingness to invest, said Mike Dunlap, principal of Holland-based Michael A. Dunlap & Associates LLC. Dunlap spoke with MiBiz about his views on the industry and its challenges in 2015.

The office furniture industry picked up momentum in the third quarter and should remain in a steady growth mode through 2015, according to an updated industry outlook.

The auto industry has done well in 2014 and we expect to see more of the same in 2015. For suppliers and automakers, this is good news that carries some complexity, given the caution with which everyone is approaching decisions on when to add capacity.

While auto analyst Mike Wall at IHS Automotive Group projects production to hit 17.4 million units in 2015, he sees a series of trends including platform globalization, emerging technology and market uncertainty as driving the industry going forward. He spoke with MiBiz about the opportunities and challenges facing the automotive industry in the year ahead.

Looking ahead to 2015, manufacturers by and large predict another year of steady growth.

Attracting coveted out-of-town dollars is important to any city. Eddie Tadlock and his staff at the SMG-managed DeVos Place Convention Center and DeVos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids are a powerhouse when it comes to facilitating everything from concerts and Broadway shows to trade shows and sporting events.

With a current boom in residential housing construction — primarily apartment rentals — along with a slew of retail and entertainment options, Kara Wood says Grand Rapids is on a positive track heading into 2015. She’s also bullish on the potential return of condominium construction. Transportation infrastructure spending is the primary legislative issue Wood would like to see championed.

Grand Rapids-based Avanti Law Group practices in the areas of immigration law, criminal defense, family law, estate planning, labor and employment, civil litigation, class action lawsuit, personal injury and wrongful death. Co-founder Raquel Salas believes the 2015 economic outlook varies between individuals and industries, but she’s bullish on her firm’s prospects.

West Michigan has proven it can sustain a myriad of semi-professional sports teams such as the Grand Rapids Griffins, West Michigan Whitecaps, Kalamazoo Wings and others. But over the past few years, the region has also become an attractive destination for national-scale youth and amateur sports. Mike Guswiler is tasked with promoting the area as a viable venue for such events. The West Michigan Sports Commission has a long list of local and national events on the docket for 2015.

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