Breaking News - MiBiz: West Michigan Business News

Former Herman Miller Inc. President and CEO Brian Walker joined Detroit-based private equity firm Huron Capital as a partner in charge of strategic leadership for portfolio companies.

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Mercantile Bank Corp. recorded strong earnings and loan growth to end 2018, a trend executives expect should continue into 2019.

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 Trustees at Grand Valley State University today named Philomena Mantella as its next president.

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Heavy truck industry supplier SAF-Holland Inc. has acquired a majority stake in a company that manufactures automatic tire pressure management systems.

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Foresight Management has acquired Grand Rapids-based Building Performance Team Inc., expanding the company’s in-house services in energy modeling and building commissioning.

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A corner commercial building along the East Fulton Street corridor in Grand Rapids is under new ownership.

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Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Jan. 21, 2019.

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NORTON SHORES — A company that moved out of Norton Shores before its tax abatements expired is now suing the lakeshore community and fighting the city’s demands for repayment of nearly $1 million.

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Federal tax reform means multiple benefits to the real estate industry, although some further guidance is needed for investors to fully understand what that means. After President Donald Trump signed into law the most sweeping changes to the U.S. federal tax code since 1986 with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, experts pointed to the real estate sector as one of the winners with the reforms.

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Most manufacturers can expect to fork over less in taxes for last year, and companies that monitor the shifting provisions could capitalize on greater investment in a few key areas. Although most of the tax cuts from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 became effective for manufacturers on Jan. 1, 2018, businesses in all industries have been left with questions and uncertainty about how the new laws need to be applied, said Joel Mitchell, a tax partner at Plante Moran PLLC in Grand Rapids.

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The recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act purported to simplify tax structures, rates and exemptions, but accountants say small businesses face plenty of nuances depending on their size, structure and profits. “One thing I have noticed, people thought they were going to be left with simpler tax laws and to some extent, some have,” said Sally Steffes, CPA and one of the partners at H&S Companies PC. “There are many variables to contend with.” 

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The federal tax reform Congress enacted at the end of 2017 comes with significant complexity that tax professionals say they’re still sorting through as the 2019 tax season begins. For the first time, tax advisers are beginning to prepare and file returns for clients under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Given the depth of the changes and the complexity of the new federal tax code, the only certainty for the 2019 tax season is the expectation that business owners will need to spend more time with their CPAs and tax advisers as they dive into the details and work through their returns.

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Western Michigan University Professor David Karowe, Ph.D. has dire predictions for what will happen if people across the globe fail to take swift action to replace fossil fuels with green energy. While climate change affects systems globally, it will have real effects on the West Michigan region and its economy, according to Karowe’s predictions, which are informed by his years of research on the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide in plants.

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GRAND RAPIDS — A new initiative funded with a $300,000 grant from the Wege Foundation wants to develop environmentally-conscious human beings at a young age. The aim for the Grand Rapids Environmental Education Network, or GREEN, is to have every student in Grand Rapids Public Schools participate in an environmental experience, according to Clayton Pelon, associate director of the Grand Valley State University College of Education who serves as the lead on the grant.

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GRAND RAPIDS — Developers relied on low-income tax credits to add nearly 2,000 units of affordable housing in the city over the last five years. While the credits provide key gap financing to affordable housing developers, officials who administer the funding say the program is consistently “oversubscribed,” leading to delays for new projects.

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WALKER — With a massive amount of new housing in the works, the city of Walker hopes to further define its identity. Developers have planned and the city has approved more than 400 housing units for the Grand Rapids suburb, including 206 single-family units and up to 221 multifamily residences.

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GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health joined a consortium of large health systems across the U.S. as way to reduce the cost and ensure the availability of generic medications. Through the nonprofit Civica Rx, the Grand Rapids-based health system hopes to cut by 20 percent or more the cost of generic drugs used in surgeries and patient treatments.

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Lost in my inbox during the year-end shuffle was an item serving as a reminder that despite massive changes occurring in the industry, one steady constant remains in Michigan’s health care sector. In this case, it was the annual report from the American Medical Association that once again identifies Michigan as one of the least competitive states in the country for commercial health insurance.

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Patients in West Michigan are more apt than people in the southeastern part of the state to connect with a doctor virtually to manage two chronic illnesses. That’s one finding in Grand Valley State University’s 2019 Health Check report, which shows a far higher utilization rate in the region for telehealth as an ongoing treatment option for diabetes and coronary artery disease.

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The Michigan Public Service Commission has started what could be a two-year process to govern how renewable energy projects are connected to the electric grid. The plan to make new interconnection rules seeks to resolve an unprecedented backlog of requests from independent power producers to build solar projects at a time when utility customers increasingly are turning to solar for self-generation.

GRAND RAPIDS — The executives behind an iconic American superbike brand are breathing new life into the company and relaunching “boutique” motorcycle production in West Michigan. By establishing low-volume production of EBR Motorcycles in Grand Rapids, owner Bill Melvin hopes to bring sustainability to the company founded by famed motorcycle racer Erik Buell some 35 years ago.

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As Larry Lewis advanced in his career as an engineer in the manufacturing, construction and telecommunications industries, he relied on computers as an essential tool for his everyday work. His aptitude grew alongside the technology, to which he was first exposed at Dartmouth College in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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MUSKEGON — While development took off in Muskegon’s downtown in recent years, the city’s Downtown Development Authority mostly sat on the sidelines as it paid off bonds on the old Muskegon Mall.

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A new effort aims to find ways to kickstart economic growth along The Rapid’s Silver Line bus route from Grand Rapids though southern Kent County.

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The state chapter of a small business advocacy group is among the supporters of a bipartisan bill package introduced this month to reform the way law enforcement seizes property from people suspected of crimes.

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A $500,000 grant from the Grand Rapids SmartZone will fund a program to use 3-D printing technology to accelerate the development and production of medical device components.

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Van Wyk Risk Solutions has signed a lease to occupy Class A office space in the new Warner Building downtown.

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The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area surpassed its all-time record in fundraising in 2018, receiving close to $21 million in contributions.

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Researchers led by scientists at Van Andel Research Institute developed a new blood test that can lead to the earlier detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

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WYOMING — A Cleveland-based producer of specialty abrasive products plans to move part of its business to the Grand Rapids area after it was acquired by local private equity firm Stone Fox Ventures LLC.

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