Enhanced Port of Muskegon is an economic development opportunity

February 12, 2016
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Grand Rapids Business Journal reported this month the expansion of a regional transportation hub can be expected to generate an additional $243 million for this region and $282.9 million for the state of Michigan — and it’s not an airport, it’s the Port of Muskegon.

The economic impact report by Development Research Partners provides an assessment of the value of expanding and diversifying the tonnage moving through the Port of Muskegon.

Action to move such plans forward with immediacy is made more critical not only by the demise of such plants like Muskegon’s Sappi paper mill and other manufacturers during the Great Recession, but also to stem further impairment as coal tonnage is lost in the closing of the Consumers Energy B.C. Cobb plant in April.

Port improvements for shipping are just one piece of a comprehensive plan moving forward under the auspices of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, which is reviewing plans for comprehensive development around Muskegon Lake.

Those development plans include recreational opportunities, habitat restoration, public access and residential communities. Port improvement plans could create rather immediate revenue opportunities, assisting other elements in the holistic renaissance of the city of Muskegon.

Business Journal reports that highlight continued growth in manufacturing and OEMs suggest an increase in opportunities. Recent activity, for instance, by Supply Chain Solutions certainly implies potential customers are increasing.

Supply Chain is expanding in both Mexico and China. CEO Les Brand told the Business Journal that, in the case of Dematic’s move into Mexico, “We are taking their product, built in Grand Rapids, and sending it out across the world.”

The Development Research Partners report currently shows only regional West Michigan industries are served by the port, but introduction of container terminal operations, expanded manufacturing, agricultural production and commodities tonnage combined can increase business-to-business spending, employment and worker earnings — as soon as 2020.

Harbor shipping improvements also could reduce the costs of shipping to those businesses and ultimately increase export opportunities.

The Business Journal has for more than a decade encouraged such port improvements and advocates encouragement for immediacy.

The broad scope of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission’s priorities measures the impact and provides oversight for unified growth in each of the plan’s distinct areas of influence, including environmental. The commission’s report provides for sustainable development.

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