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Published in Economic Development

MiBiz Growth Report: May 10, 2020

BY MIBIZ STAFF Sunday, May 10, 2020 12:15pm

Here is the MiBiz growth report for May 10, 2020.

M&A

  • Caledonia-based Aspen Surgical Products Inc., a producer of disposable surgical products, has acquired Precept Medical Products in Arden, N.C., a maker of personal protection equipment in health care. The acquisition adds to Aspen’s product portfolio. Aspen, with facilities in Caledonia and Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, also gets about 200,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution capacity with Precept’s manufacturing facility in Agua Prieta, Mexico, and distribution warehouses in Douglas, Ariz. and Richmond, Va. Precept designs, manufactures and markets protective medical apparel for infection control. The company’s products include surgical face masks, non-surgical isolation gowns, lab jackets, scrubs, coveralls, patient gowns, lab coats and cold therapy packs. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Aspen Surgical is a platform company of Boston-based Audax Private Equity
  • Lansing-based communications firm 7C Lingo LLC has acquired 2b Inclusive LLC, a professional development training firm also based in Lansing. Tedi Parsons, managing partner of 2b Inclusive, will stay on with 7C Lingo, where he will serve as the vice president of professional development and training, according to a statement. Parsons also will oversee a new initiative, 7C Pros, aimed at professionals just starting a career in the C-suite. 7C Lingo President and CEO Fathy Shetiah said the deal allows the company to expand its services and client base. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
  • High Street Insurance Partners, a Traverse City-based agency platform backed by private equity, recently completed three acquisitions, two of them in West Michigan. The agency closed in April on deals for Ken Bleeker Insurance Agency in Martin and Trust Shield Insurance Group in Schoolcraft. High Street this month expanded outside of Michigan with the acquisition of New Hartford, N.Y.-based Gates-Cole Associates. Since forming in June 2018 with backing from Detroit-based private equity firm Huron Capital, High Street has made 10 acquisitions. The company now has more than 300 employees at offices in Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.

Expansion 

  • Inner City Christian Federation has expanded its emergency shelter services during COVID-19, opening a three-bedroom home for families experiencing homelessness in Grand Rapids, adjacent to the organization’s Family Haven shelter.
  • Economic development agency Battle Creek Unlimited has expanded its COVID-19 Emergency Microgrant Fund to a second round that includes small businesses and nonprofits in neighboring communities. Following a $200,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation, and additional funding from BCU and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, officials plan to support 65-85 more businesses in the Battle Creek area, including in Springfield and Emmett, Bedord and Pennfield townships. Grants are up to $5,000 and are limited to organizations with fewer than 15 employees and less than $1 million in annual revenue. The funds can be used for payroll, accounts payable, rent and other bills.
  • Battle Creek-based Cask & Kettle, which makes cocktail pods for Keurig-style coffee machines, is rolling out its product in select Walmart stores across Michigan. The woman-owned company was founded in 2017 to focus on bringing craft-style hot cocktails into homes.

Pharma

  • Southwest Michigan could become one of three production sites in the U.S. for a potential vaccine for COVID-19 that Pfizer Inc. and Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech SE are developing. The first participants in a clinical trial for four vaccine candidates have already been dosed, Pfizer and BioNTech said last week. If the clinical trials prove the vaccine candidate successful, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to produce the vaccine at Pfizer’s Kalamazoo-area facility in Portage, as well as in St. Louis, Mo. and Andover, Mass., plus Puurs, Belgium.

Health care

  • Citing low reimbursements rates, declining referrals and low occupancy that make continued operations unsustainable, the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids plans to close the Marywood Health Center, a 49-bed nursing home on the Sisters’ Marywood Campus. The Marywood Health Center provides clinical care and rehabilitation therapies for people recovering from illness or injury, stroke or surgery. The Dominican Sisters have operated the Marywood Health Center for years with Trinity Health. The center no longer accepts new admissions and the Dominican Sisters will work to ensure an orderly, safe discharge of remaining residents to their homes or another health care facility.
  • The state Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity have launched a new portal in Pure Michigan Talent Connect to make it easier for health care professionals to apply for jobs providing care for COVID-19 patients. As of last week, the portal had more than 7,000 job openings for positions including registered and licensed professional nurses and respiratory therapists at long-term care facilities and other facilities. Full-time, part-time and temporary positions are available.
  • Grand Rapids-based Field-Tools is offering a free health-screening form on its mobile app for construction companies to use as workers returned to work last week. On their phones, workers activate a QR code in the app at signs posted at construction site entrances. The form asks a series of questions about recent travel and contacts who may have tested positive for COVID-19. Questions answered “yes” notify the site supervisor. Pioneer Construction Co. officials have successfully tested the app in the field.
  • Metro Health-University of Michigan Health System will start voluntary staff furloughs this week in response to the “lasting” financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials expect a $40 million operating loss through the 2020 fiscal year that ends June 30. Metro Health joins Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and Bronson Healthcare in cutting expenses after weeks of losing revenue following an executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that prevented elective, non-essential procedures and surgeries.

Banking

  • Grand Rapids-based Independent Bank Corp. (Nasdaq: IBCP) plans to consolidate eight offices into nearby branches. The branch consolidations will generate more than $1.3 million in annual cost savings and come with a one-time expense of $800,000, most of which will occur in the second and third quarters. Independent Bank has 68 offices in the Lower Peninsula. The offices Independent Bank plans to consolidate into nearby locations are in Troy, Pigeon, Acme, Ionia, Potterville and Olivet, CEO Brad Kessel said in an email to MiBiz. The bank also plans to consolidate offices on the campuses of Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant and Saginaw Valley State University into other branches in those markets.

Mobility

  • PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., has issued $333,000 in grants to four companies to pilot new transportation projects. They include Adastec, which will test a full-size electric and automated bus at Michigan State University’s East Lansing campus, and KTISIS, which will install traction systems to improve vehicle safety and performance on off-road vehicles at Silver Lake Sand Dunes near Hart. 
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