Key aspects of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first budget proposal involving education and road funding have drawn mixed reactions from the business community, but advocates are aligned in opposition of leveling the tax rate among Michigan companies. Whitmer has proposed reinstating a tax exemption on pensions that was eliminated by former Gov. Rick Snyder, and offsetting the decreased revenue with higher taxes on smaller businesses.
GRAND RAPIDS — The Kent County Department of Public Works and The Right Place Inc. have announced a development partnership for the Kent County Sustainable Business Park. The Department of Public Works announced last year it was issuing a request for information to seek potential tenants for the proposed business park on about 200 acres that it owns in Byron Township and Allegan County, adjacent to its South Kent Landfill.
Business advocates in Lansing panned Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to implement what she called “tax parity” by having small businesses pay the same 6-percent state income tax now levied on corporations in Michigan.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first budget proposal would raise Michigan’s gas and diesel fuel tax by 45 cents per gallon over 12 months to generate $2.5 billion annually to repair state and local roads.
After three decades of running tribal gaming operations, Michigan-based Native American tribes have started to leverage their casino revenues to launch economic development corporations and diversify their economies.
On a recent night in February, around 50 people attended a private dinner in Muskegon Heights featuring a 10-course tasting meal. The fine-dining plates included mussels and crab cakes made with fresh crab sourced from Fish Lads of Grand Rapids Inc. Michigan Cannabis Chefs LLC hosted the $35-per-person event, offering dishes infused with marijuana throughout the night.
With the acquisition this year of a Charlevoix-based defense contractor, Grand Traverse Economic Development is executing on the initial steps of its investment strategy to diversify revenues for the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians away from gaming. If all goes to plan for Traverse City-based GTED, the sovereign tribe’s non-gaming commercial investment arm intends over the next decade to build a $1 billion portfolio of companies, almost entirely focused in some way on government contracting.
When the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians replaced the former Victories Casino with the new Odawa Casino in 2007, the tribe was left with a 22-acre site and a vacant building at the southern end of Petoskey.
Dowagiac-based Mno-Bmadsen, the non-gaming investment arm of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, takes a familiar portfolio-based approach to its economic development enterprise. But rather than drive overall top-line revenue for its family of companies, Mno-Bmadsen is focusing on growing the combined earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of its holdings.
Over the next five years, CEO Tom Wilbur plans to build Grand Traverse Economic Development into a $100 million diversified portfolio of eight to 10 firms capable of capturing federal and state contracts.
Artificial barrier or lack of understanding? Tribal entities struggle to secure key minority business certificationWritten by Jessica Young
Business entities owned by West Michigan-based Native American tribes face a surprising roadblock in gaining access to programs used to grow minority-owned businesses. While tribally-owned businesses often receive the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) disadvantaged business certification, they have not found similar success when it comes to getting “minority business enterprise” (MBE) certification through the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC).
West Michigan tribes may be relatively new to implementing economic development and diversification plans, but they’ve quickly established themselves as strategic partners for the local business community because of their focus on investing in companies and real estate. Moreover, many of the federally-recognized sovereign tribes are looking to engage with non-tribal businesses, spreading the opportunity beyond just tribal members into potentially powerful economic opportunities across the region.
Emmanuel “Manny” Toribio has been chosen as the next city manager of East Grand Rapids following the retirement of Brian Donovan, who served in the position for 25 years. Currently, Toribio is the assistant director of facilities planning and management at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Before that, he served for three years as city administrator for Prairie City, Iowa, and six years as city planner for Des Moines.
An appeals court ruling upheld the ability of employers to withdraw job offers to people who failed a pre-employment drug test, even if they are a legal user of medical marijuana. In a case involving the City of Lansing and its utility, the Lansing Board of Water and Light, the Michigan Court of Appeals this week ruled that employers may withdraw a just offer from prospective at-will employees.
GRAND RAPIDS — Legislation expected to be reintroduced this session could address the question of whether downtown residential property owners should help pay for the services currently funded only by assessments on commercial businesses. Although former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed similar legislation, lawmakers could revive bills this year that would allow local taxing authorities to decide whether residential owners in business improvement districts should also pay the assessments that commercial property owners pay.
GRAND RAPIDS — A proposed contract between Start Garden Inc. and the Grand Rapids SmartZone would put in place new goals for fostering local tech startups. Rather than focusing on certain activities, the proposed contract establishes outcomes such as adding 10 new tech startups annually to the SmartZone service area, with six of those companies over two years owned by minorities or women, and providing service to 15 startups a year through its business incubator on Pearl Street in downtown.
Ken Sikkema and three former state legislative colleagues created the Michigan Consensus Policy Project to offer solutions to pressing problems in the state in an era of what he calls “intense” political polarization. The bipartisan group’s first proposal is a 47-cent increase in the state gas tax over nine years to generate the $2.7 billion annually that’s needed to fix Michigan’s roads.
The Republican-led state Legislature has rejected an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that would have abolished a pair of controversial environmental review boards.
The Grand Rapids Whitewater nonprofit has secured $4.4 million in new public and foundation funding for its restoration efforts of the Grand River through the city.
State lawmakers are trying for a third consecutive session to codify rules over property tax assessments that municipalities say have cost them millions of dollars in revenue.
A bipartisan group of former lawmakers and Lansing political veterans today proposed a 47-cent increase in the state gas tax to fix Michigan’s roads.
Grand Valley State University economist Paul Isely still believes the U.S. economy could dip into a recession within a year, although West Michigan is likely to experience a “soft landing.”
Reforming Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance system remains a high priority in Lansing after a proposal during the 2018 lame-duck legislative failed to gain the support needed to pass. State House leaders this month, soon after convening the new legislative session, formed a special committee to look at no-fault reform, and the first bill introduced in the Senate offers a basic outline for reforms.
FINDING MOMENTUM: The Rapid secures nearly $1 million to study ways to spur growth along Silver Line routeWritten by Jessica Young
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.
Allegiant Travel Co. is expanding its footprint at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport with the opening of a $42.8 million base.
Approximately 6 million television viewers in more than 20 markets, including West Michigan, have lost access to local news, sports and entertainment programming because of a contract dispute between two mega media groups.
Business and environmental groups were equally surprised at one of Rick Snyder’s final acts as Michigan governor: Signing a bill making it more difficult for state agencies to adopt rules stricter than federal regulations. But while environmental groups say the move jeopardizes natural resources and public health, business advocates downplay the concerns.
After 22 years with The Right Place Inc., Rick Chapla has stepped down and moves into the next phase of his career. Chapla focused on behind-the-scenes efforts to help public and private sector projects become reality, often serving as a conduit for connecting people. Chapla, who got his start in planning and economic development in Muskegon more than three and a half decades ago, spoke with MiBiz about how West Michigan has changed throughout the years and what he has planned next.
To borrow a line from the late David Bowie, it’s time for the West Michigan business community “to turn and face the strange” that’s ahead in 2019. Where to begin?
For this Crystal Ball edition of MiBiz, our team of journalists spoke with dozens of executives across West Michigan about their outlook for 2019. From those conversations, we’ve subjectively boiled down their concerns into this list. The first three issues certainly rank as their major concerns, while the rest of the list were their main worries that rose to the forefront.
Crystal Ball 2019 Michigan Economic Outlook: Forecasts show continued but slower growth as Michigan nears record period of expansionWritten by Mark Sanchez
Michigan’s economy will see slower economic and employment growth in 2019 amid the ongoing tight labor market and less U.S. economic growth, economists say.
Crystal Ball 2019 Michigan Policy Outlook: Amid new political dynamic, business groups focus on talent, road fundingWritten by Andy Balaskovitz
Michigan business groups say a transition of executive power from a Republican to a Democrat brings policy uncertainty, but they expect a continued focus from Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer on at least two topics: road funding and talent.
Crystal Ball 2019 Economic Outlook: National economy enters late states of expansion, economists sayWritten by Mark Sanchez
Robert Dye views 2019 as a “transitional year” for the U.S. economy as a trio of forces align to moderate growth during the year.
Change is inevitable in government and in business. Just ask The Right Place President and CEO Birgit Klohs, who next year will have worked in economic development during the terms of five different Michigan governors. Still, with all the uncertainty surrounding international trade and politics, now is not the time to wreak havoc on the state’s economic development policies, she said.
Multiple initiatives and projects in Ottawa County next year will focus on retention and attraction of people to the area, according to County Administrator Al Vanderberg. With the lowest unemployment rate in Michigan (2.5 percent in December), the talent shortage is affecting companies on the lakeshore. Most projects Vanderberg is watching have some tie to the future prosperity of the county.