Local businesses build groundwork for a springboard to 2016

December 25, 2015
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Some might say the achievements of economic impact this year pale in comparison to the December finale of the state legislative agreement to tax code changes that pave the way for the SuperNAP data center in Gaines Township and its impact on the Michigan economy.

But the West Michigan region, in 2015, set new levels of business, business engagement and successes at a pace unseen since before the Great Recession. 

Construction showed big gains, in both residential and commercial sectors. More than a dozen new residential units have opened or are under construction. The Business Journal staff considered no fewer than 43 construction projects for the real estate/construction Newsmaker category. The almost non-existent industrial real estate inventory was given a boost by Robert Grooters, who is building a $3 million industrial facility near the airport.

No fewer than 18 economic development Newsmakers were reviewed, and the strength of the three selected as nominees in this category are significant for the multiple governmental units acting as one entity, and the regional benefits of each: Brian Ryks’ guidance of the new Gerald R. Ford International Airport as a regional authority; the SmartZone agreements linking Holland and Grand Rapids, creating a supersized landing pad for new development; and the agreement of multiple governmental units in Muskegon County to help create the marketing and business plan called Watch Us Go.

Business Journal staff also reviewed 22 manufacturing plans and projects created in 2015, including: General Motors’ extensive investment throughout Michigan included a $119 million expansion of its plant in Wyoming; plastics maker Plasan consolidated its Vermont operation in the Grand Rapids area; and Amway Corp. opened a new $81 million plant in Ada.

The technology sector also grew: Mat Nguyen’s Worksighted operation landed on the Inc. 500 list for the fourth consecutive year; President and CEO Meredith Bronk saw OST create a professional services division; and Carl Erickson at Atomic Object oversaw a $2.9 million expansion, adding 33 new jobs.

Twenty startups made news in 2015, and Business Journal staff nominated Newsmakers Ryan Vaughn of Varsity News Network, Nathan Owen of Blue Medora, and Jeff Courter of Sportsman Tracker as the top three in the category.

Grand Rapids Business Journal will mark the beginning of the New Year with a salute to more than 45 Newsmakers in 15 business sector categories, announcing the leaders of each at the Jan. 27 breakfast.

The Business Journal salutes the Newsmakers of 2015 and looks for a prosperous New Year as they continue to lead success.

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