Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: April 26, 2020

BY MIBIZ STAFF Sunday, April 26, 2020 11:33am

MiBiz growth report for April 26, 2020.


  • Ontario, Calif.-based New-Indy Containerboard LLC, a joint venture between the Kraft Group and Schwarz Partners LP, acquired Shoreline Container LLC, a Holland-based based paper and packaging company. Through the deal, New-Indy adds Shoreline Container’s two facilities in Holland that produce corrugated packaging products, and a Zeeland facility that distributes protective and specialty packaging materials. Shoreline’s chief operations officer, Bob Zuker, remains with the company. Ernst & Young Capital Advisors LLC served as the financial adviser to Shoreline Container. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Patten Monument Co. in Comstock Park, a cemetery headstone provider, acquired Campbell Murch Memorials Inc. in Mattawan, a 125-year-old manufacturer and engraver of cemetery memorials. Todd Sokolowski owned Campbell Murch Memorials since 1984 and sold the company to retire. He was represented in the deal by Small Business Deal Advisors LLC in Grand Rapids. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
  • New York-based managed technology solutions provider BCM One Group Holdings Inc. acquired nexVortex Inc., a Herndon, Va.-based internet phone service provider with an office in Grand Rapids. BCM One plans to maintain the Grand Rapids office, led by Mike Nowak, according to a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 


  • The Michigan Economic Development Corp. created a $3 million fund to aid technology startups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Early-stage tech startups can apply for investments and loans of $20,000 to $100,000 from the Tech Startup Stabilization Fund, depending on their stage, sector, estimated runway, and a demonstration of need. The fund, administered by Detroit-based ID Ventures, “will prioritize early-stage tech companies that are beyond ideation and have previously raised capital from angel and/or venture capital sources,” according to the MEDC.
  • Eight organizations united to create an emergency relief fund for undocumented workers and mixed status families in Kent County who are ineligible for unemployment or other relief. La Lucha Fund will help families pay for basic needs such as rent, groceries, cleaning supplies and medicine. Movimiento Cosecha GR and the Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network collaborated on the La Lucha Fund with The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, the Latino Community Coalition, Latina Network of West Michigan, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the West Michigan Latino Network. More than 13,000 people who are undocumented live in Kent County, according to 2016 data from the Gateways for Growth initiative. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation serves as the fiscal sponsor for the fund and is processing donations. The Community Foundation also contributed an initial $100,000 to the fund. 
  • The foundation for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce wants to raise another $2 million for an emergency relief fund for small businesses affected by closures from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation already has raised $1 million for the Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund. Donations came from local foundations and corporations. The relief fund provides grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for small businesses in Kent County with five to 25 full-time employees, as well as consulting assistance on cash flow projections. The fund as of last week had awarded 44 grants that total $415,000.


  • A federal government decision to move 157.5 acres of tribally owned land into trust could spur movement on a large mixed-use development in Acme Township near Traverse City. In a letter from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians was notified that its application to move the parcel of land into federal trust was granted. The parcel, located approximately 20 miles from the tribe’s headquarters in Peshawbestown, will provide land for economic development and “much-needed housing” for some of the 200 tribal members employed at the nearby Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel owned by the tribe, according to the letter. The BIA filing further outlines the Grand Traverse Band’s plans for the property, including a state-authorized planned unit development with multi-purpose housing and commercial properties to complement existing tribally owned properties in the M-72 corridor.

Health care

  • Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids opened a new rehab unit for patients recovering from COVID-19. The 18-bed ReCOVery Unit serves patients needing intensive rehabilitation but who still test positive for the virus. The unit, which opened April 16, is located in a physically secluded area of the hospital and staff remain there for the duration of their shift. The unit adheres to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention precautions. 


  • Pace Industries LLC, which manufactures die-cast parts and previously acquired the former Port City Group operations in Muskegon, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Arkansas-based company cited two years of financial difficulties coupled with supply chain disruptions caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus for forcing the company to close plants and lay off most employees, according to a statement. Last month, Pace Industries notified employees at the company’s Port City division in Muskegon that operations would be temporarily shut down and all but 38 salaried employees would be laid off. A total of 456 local employees were furloughed, according to a notice filed with the state. The Muskegon plant, which Pace Industries acquired in 2015, manufactures aluminum die castings, zinc die castings, mechanical assemblies and injected molded plastics for the automotive industry. 
  • Grand Rapids-based Purple East Plus Inc., a lifestyle retailer of paraphernalia used for the consumption of cannabis and tobacco, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan. The company, which bills itself as “the premier head shop and lifestyle store” in the Grand Rapids area, reported it had less than $50,000 in assets and liabilities in the range of $100,000 to $500,000, according to court filings. In a sworn statement dated April 18, President Drew Phillippy said Purple East’s financial troubles stemmed from its unsuccessful expansion from one retail location to four stores in the Grand Rapids area, coupled with recent disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. Purple East reported more than $270,000 in unsecured debts owed for property leases, utility payments, receivables, state and federal taxes and business loans. The company is being represented in the case by Chase Bylenga Hulst PLLC


  • Doug Rothwell, the chief executive of Business Leaders for Michigan, a statewide business roundtable of top CEOs and university presidents, plans to retire at the end of the year. Business Leaders for Michigan intends to conduct a nationwide search and name a successor to Rothwell in November. Rothwell has led the organization and its predecessor, Detroit Renaissance, for 15 years. He also previously led the Michigan Economic Development Corp.


  • Zeeland-based Herman Miller Inc. (Nasdaq: MLHR) has filed a federal lawsuit against an online retailer for counterfeiting iconic Eames designs. Herman Miller claims “injury from infringement and unfair competition” against Interior Icons, a brand with an undetermined owner that is used in connection with the operation of an e-commerce website, according to filings in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. A representative from Herman Miller declined to comment further for this report, citing the pending litigation. Herman Miller is being represented in the case by attorneys at Foley & Lardner LLP.
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