Economic growth spurred by creative regional effort

May 10, 2010
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The Institute for Supply Chain Management research conducted in April for the Grand Rapids region shows “strong growth.” Its author, Brian Long, director of Supply Chain Management Research at Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business, noted: “New orders, our closely watched index of business improvement, shot up to a 16-year high of +51. For the first time in the 21-year history of the survey, not a single firm reported business conditions to be weaker than the previous month.”

While some business owners in the sector surveyed remain “cautiously optimistic” — largely related to commodities prices — others are seeing sustained order and revenue increases, and 32 percent of the respondents have hired staff. Long notes the composite index has now advanced nine consecutive months and, “we can say that strong growth has resumed, and we are on our way back to the pre-recession production levels of a few years ago.”

Even while hard-fought improvements are noted, it is no less important to underscore the tenacity and productivity of area businesses that have contributed a fundamental piece of the economic foundation in retaining and recruiting employees, often with creative policies. A hundred examples were provided last week by the award winners of the Michigan Business & Professional Association’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. 

Sustaining employment and an employee base in Michigan has been its own feat — even with governmental income tax increases. Creative and unique policies are born of owners and managers leading the recovery. Winners were both large and small businesses in almost every economic sector.

Contributions also were measured in the nonprofit sector last week. World Trade Week offered reasons to celebrate, in some ways best exemplified by the comeback story of Hastings Manufacturing, whose senior director of international sales and marketing gave credit for some of that success to the U.S. Department of Commerce office in Grand Rapids for its assistance, expertise and international connections to assist overseas exports of its now internationally known piston rings.

The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center housed at Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business has earned designation as the agency that created the greatest number of jobs in the state, in its assistance through collaborations with economic development and business support organizations to 494 companies, some of them new entrepreneurs.

In each case are examples of creative thinking and regional support frameworks. With that, Long may continue to have good news from the Supply Chain surveys in the Grand Rapids region.

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