Editorial and Opinion

Muskegon partners muscling economic stability

July 13, 2018
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Earlier this year, the Business Journal recognized Muskegon development as the top 2017 economic development news and as Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year, recognizing more than $1 billion in investments in public spaces, new building, renovation and business expansions. The current Business Journal report detailing another project, Imagine Muskegon Lake, is equally noteworthy. The city is recording more than $50 million in projects recently completed, $22 million already under construction and another $90 million indicated in established plans.

Unlike recently passed decades, the 2012-18 chapter in Muskegon’s reclamation is multiproject oriented rather than singularly focused, is given a partnership principle involving multiple units of government throughout Muskegon County and a “middleman” in three economic development agencies working in concert on the same plan. Muskegon’s proximity is underscored by its inclusion in the Combined Statistical Area of Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Holland, the second-largest CSA in Michigan.

Each of the steps in the Muskegon reclamation provide a more unified effort toward a more secure economic future. Some of the lead projects may be familiar: renovation of L.C. Walker Arena, renovation and expansion of the convention center and, most importantly, linking downtown Muskegon with its deep-port Muskegon Lake, mere minutes away on foot. The announcement of the Imagine Muskegon Lake plan — nay, its completion by all partners — is an important economic chapter in the region’s history.

The previously reported projects indicating $1 billion in investment included a $50-million expansion of Bayer Crop Science, a new Walmart in Whitehall Township totaling $14 million, $2 million toward new breweries and distilleries, expansion of GE Aviation with an investment of $15 million, an $11-million expansion of La Colombe, the $271-million building of Mercy Health Center, new port development costing over $100 million, a $38-million investment in the Arconic Aerospace plant in Whitehall, development of Muskegon Community College’s downtown campus worth $18 million, along with multiple other developments and upgrades.

Several Muskegon business and nonprofits have stepped up to contribute, including Art Van Furniture, Fifth Third Bank, Lakeshore Art Festival, Mercy Health, Lakeshore Museum Center and Muskegon Community College. Earlier this year Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Larsen told the Business Journal, “More entrepreneur activity is expected as we witness more small business openings throughout the county.”

Indeed, growth begets growth. And the economic power and growth of a region are reliant on it.

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