Occupancy Rates Paint Positive Picture

April 10, 2007
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Michigan businesses are finding keys to growth in the Grand Rapids community, and the evidence is not only in speculation and increased calls of curiosity, but in the numbers. Two reports this week provide continued optimism for West Michigan

The 2007 Building Owners and Managers Association of West Michigan annual report is indicative of current and anticipated regional growth. Even with 20 new buildings and almost 400,000 square feet of new space available in the last year, occupancy has not only met the expectations of the new construction, but increased in buildings overall.

Former Building Owners and Managers Association President Charlie Hoats noted, "When you're adding space to the market and gaining some ground with occupancy, that spells 'positive absorption,' which is really the key thing that everybody wants."

The report also underscores the growth of the medical sector in the region. The Northeast sector (portions of

Michigan Street
and
East Beltline Avenue
) showed the greatest gains, with a 6 percent occupancy increase. That same sector included four new buildings, increasing square footage to more than 1 million, now the fourth largest of BOMA's 14 sectors.

The B Section Focus this week also includes a report on the growth of medical businesses, for which available building space is recorded at an even lower vacancy rate. Continued growth and new building is anticipated especially along the M-6 corridor where Metro Health will open its new LEED-certified hospital and medical campus this fall. Combined with the ongoing metamorphosis of

Michigan Street
hill, John Mundell, senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis/Grand Rapids, noted, "I know from the state of Michigan standpoint, we stand alone with this level and type of development."

A new analysis by IRN Inc., Global Supply Chain Evolution Analysis, also provides welcome signposts this week. The research included the office furniture, automotive and fabricated metals industries and sought to determine which supply chains will leave this region, which will stay and how those might evolve. The report shows that some of the manufacturing resources necessary to remain competitive already exist or are under development. (The study was funded by the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development grant, another example of regional collaboration.)

The office furniture industry last week also reported continued gains (even if not as Herculean as previous quarters). The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association lowered its 2007 expectations for gains from 10 percent to 7 percent, but consider that double-digit growth wasn't even imagined three years ago.

Grand Rapids — it's closer than Dallas, and there is a fresh water supply aplenty off the West Coast.    

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