Real Estate, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

What makes West Michigan the ultimate home for franchises?

September 30, 2015
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Within the past decade, Grand Rapids has seen an economic boom unrivaled by other cities across the state of Michigan.

The supportive “local first” approach to business and economy has made it possible for entrepreneurs of all kinds to become successful business owners and, most importantly, dream chasers. Amid the growth and development, West Michigan is emerging as the location of choice for franchise businesses breaking into the state.

Saladworks, the nation’s first and largest fresh tossed-salad franchise concept, recently entered the Michigan market with the promise of three locations scattered across Grand Rapids — the first opened downtown, and the second joined three other franchises in a new outlot at Centerpointe Mall. The SaladWorks stores are owned by franchisees Tim and Julie Calderone. In previous years, franchises looked to Detroit as the primary point of entry into the Michigan market.

But the times are changing, and here’s why:

The city is hot

Just as franchises are ranking West Michigan as their first choice for entry into a new market, so too are people. From students and young professionals to families, West Michigan has transformed into the state’s quickest developing and fastest-growing region — highlighted by nationally ranked higher education institutions, booming industries with job opportunities for the next generation of professional leaders and a culturally diverse population spread throughout strong, progressive neighborhoods.

The economy is booming

Despite Michigan’s overall economic struggles in recent years, West Michigan has managed to persevere and transition into the region with the highest rate of job growth. According to The Center for Michigan, a nonprofit and nonpartisan “think-and-do” tank seeking to encourage greater citizen understanding and involvement in state policy issues, the Grand Rapids area is anticipated to surpass job-growth expectations for all other counties included in the West Michigan region. The hottest industries include health care, manufacturing, food processing and a variety of professional and technical services.

Given the West Michigan economic outlook, new franchises are looking this way, and it's being helped with the good manufacturing jobs that are being created here. Manufacturing always brings good jobs and new business.

The demographics are great

One of the keys to the region’s attractiveness for franchise businesses is strong demographics, particularly in the eastern portion of the metro Grand Rapids area. Strong income levels are illustrated through the acceptance of high rental rates in the East Grand Rapids, Knapp's Corner, Cascade and Ada areas. These areas also boast some of the highest education levels in the region, with East Grand Rapids recently being named the most-educated town in Michigan by Business Insider.

For West Michigan residents looking to go into business for themselves, the thrill of entrepreneurship with a strong franchise foundation is highly appealing. They're buying themselves a job with a known quantity. You get in the 40-to-60-year-old range and people want to get out of corporate America. With a franchise, they control their own success.

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