Economic Development


Federal legislation that aims to protect certain metropolitan areas, including six in Michigan, from losing key federal funding has been signed into law.

GRAND RAPIDS — A new professional U.S. women’s volleyball league that’s set to launch in 2024 has tapped Grand Rapids as its first market, team owners and league executives announced today.

A roundup of mergers and acquisitions, expansions and other briefs across West Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Board of Commissioners voted today to allocate $108 million in federal stimulus funds to 30 local projects as several commissioners described the process as highly politicized.

Ottawa County commissioners last week signed off on a $32.7 million spending plan that will direct federal stimulus funding to two dozen local projects.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners has approved allocating $32.7 million in federal stimulus funds for 24 community projects, over some objections that an incoming slate of commissioners should get to vote on project funding.

A survey of more than 300 West Michigan business leaders shows that talent availability and inflation are their biggest barriers to growth, while investing in automation and raising prices will be key measures to overcome risk.

Below is a snapshot of growth activity that was published in our Nov. 21, 2022 print edition. 

Ottawa County officials are considering a plan to redirect $12.5 million in reserves to fund the full number of projects prioritized for federal stimulus funding.

Democratic state Sen. Winnie Brinks from Grand Rapids continues to make history. She was the first woman to represent Grand Rapids in the state Senate since Eva McCall Hamilton was elected in 1920, and she will be Michigan’s first woman Senate Majority Leader when the Democrats take control of the legislative branch on Jan. 1 for the first time in 40 years.

GRAND RAPIDS — The three new members elected to the Grand Rapids City Commission on Nov. 8 each plan to make housing and public safety key priorities.

Kent County staff have narrowed down more than 300 requests for federal stimulus funding to 21 projects that involve housing, public amenities, support for underrepresented communities, and social programs.

Two smaller West Michigan regional airports have launched new flight offerings that officials hope will attract passengers as the facilities continue to rebound from the pandemic and launch capital projects.

Below is a snapshot of growth activity that was published in our Nov. 7, 2022 print edition. 

University of Virginia data scientist and criminologist Renée Cummings will visit Grand Rapids this month to share her insights — and warnings — on the growing use of artificial intelligence and algorithms in corporate decision making. The exponential growth in data availability has created the need for companies to make informed decisions when deploying such technology in hiring practices, DEI efforts or growing revenue, for example. That decision making should be done in a way that is justice-oriented, equitable, diverse and inclusive, Cummings says. The former journalist-turned-data scholar will make multiple appearances in Grand Rapids from Nov. 14-17 as part of a weeklong exploration of data ethics led by The Delta Project, Greater Grand Rapids NAACP, the West Michigan chapter of Public Relations Society of America, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Grand Valley State University and a consortium of tech businesses. Cummings spoke with MiBiz ahead of her visit to highlight key themes of her work and why businesses should be paying attention to ethics in data-based decision making.

Craig’s Cruisers Inc., an operator of family amusement centers in West Michigan, has sold its locations in Wyoming, Holland Township and Norton Shores to private equity-backed Five Star Parks & Attractions of Branson, Mo. 

PLAINFIELD TWP. — Eight years after opening the Meijer Sports Complex, the West Michigan Sports Commission is embarking on an $11 million capital campaign to expand the Rockford area facility with more fields and amenities.

West Michigan economic development agencies have spent the past eight months inventorying more than 100 sites across the region and selecting the top 10 that could be most suitable for large projects.

Below is a snapshot of growth activity that was published in our Oct. 24, 202 print edition. To subscribe (free to qualified business executives in West Michigan), visit mibiz.com/subscribe.

Cybercrime cost Michigan victims more than $181.6 million in 2021.

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan Policy Forum hosted a conference today in Grand Rapids where speakers promoted sweeping K-12 education reforms and lamented the ongoing use of large incentive packages to lure automotive supplier jobs.

A public-private initiative formed to make child care affordable for working parents in Michigan has begun moving from the pilot stage to full implementation.

GRAND RAPIDS — City officials will invest $300,000 in affordable child care for second- and third-shift workers and $290,000 on youth affordable housing following the results of a public vote on spending federal COVID-19 stimulus funding.

Three economic development organizations serving a 13-county region in West Michigan have narrowed nearly 150 properties down to 10 sites that would be suitable for potentially large industrial or advanced manufacturing projects.

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County residents and representatives from local organizations made their case Friday for a piece of the $127 million that the county is receiving from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Kent County officials are in the process of narrowing down hundreds of funding requests for more than $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians will have to wait at least another four months before the tribe hears from the U.S. Department of the Interior about its petition for federal acknowledgement.

A recently created statewide economic development fund created to distribute incentives continues to dole out funding for major projects.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for Oct. 10, 2022. 

In his former role leading Grand Rapids-based Gun Lake Investments, Kurtis Trevan was a vocal critic of the inequities tribally owned firms face when applying for Minority Business Enterprise certifications at the regional level. 

GRAND RAPIDS — Tribal leaders gathered Thursday in Grand Rapids to share the “unbelievable” amount of opportunities to diversify revenue streams and launch new investments for the benefit of tribal citizens.

A state board has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in tax exemptions and performance-based grants to help lure two large battery manufacturing projects that promise more than 4,000 jobs and nearly $4 billion in investment.

GRAND RAPIDS — Grand Rapids residents have through Wednesday to vote on how the city spends $2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds. 

State lawmakers have steered another $846.1 million into a state fund to support major economic development projects in Michigan.

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, or Gun Lake Tribe, will receive a $1.5 million federal grant from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration for infrastructure investments to support economic growth.

Local officials in Mecosta County on Monday night approved long-term tax incentives for a potential electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant eyed for the Big Rapids area.

State and local economic development officials are in the process of luring a major Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer to Mecosta County that could result in thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment over the next decade.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for September 26, 2022:

The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will host a conference this week in Greenville and Grand Rapids focused on rural economic development. Scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, the conference will discuss the “challenges and opportunities facing rural economic development.” Among the scheduled speakers is Martin Lavelle, a business economist with the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He spoke with MiBiz on the issues the conference will address, including access to housing and how the pandemic and the rise of remote work has changed the equation.

GRAND RAPIDS — Tribal Business News, a national publication headquartered in Grand Rapids that covers the $130 billion tribal economy, is hosting the first-ever Great Lakes Tribal Economic Summit on Oct. 6.

LANSING — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is turning to a veteran law enforcement professional to run the Cannabis Regulatory Agency as the state embarks on a national search to select a permanent executive director.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce today launched a new initiative that intends to create greater economic diversity and inclusion.

Here is the MiBiz Growth Report for September 12, 2022:

ZEELAND — Symbiote Inc., a designer and engineer of laboratory furniture for high-tech environments, has experienced a wave of changes since August 2019, and not entirely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A Q&A with Ana Gonzalez, director of the Family Owned Business Institute at GVSU

GRAND RAPIDS — The passion and soul that Mercedes Lopez puts into the food served at El Granjero Mexican Grill in Grand Rapids is evident to customers and the close-knit staff, which includes much of Lopez’s own family. 

GRAND RAPIDS — A meeting over coffee between the leaders of a pair of family-owned businesses in West Michigan ultimately led to a new collaboration involving their companies. 

Amid its many strains on companies, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have prompted more owners to think about the future and eventually pass a family business down to the next generation.