West Michigan: A hotbed for new investment
Within the last few years, West Michigan has experienced an economic surge with more jobs being created, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and more investment in community resources such as Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and the Medical Mile.
That upswing in economic activity locally has caught the attention of investors from outside Michigan and even outside the United States.
For example, Colliers International West Michigan recently brokered the sale of a manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids that just seven years ago sat empty — no jobs, no tax revenue being generated. Since then, Undercar Products Group Inc. has moved into the building, invested in machinery and equipment, and now employs about 500 workers. The owner of the building was looking to sell, and we undertook a nationwide marketing campaign to find a buyer. We located an investor in New York with whom we had an existing relationship, and upon his visiting, he liked what he saw. He spent $20 million to buy the facility.
This type of interest from outside Grand Rapids is not a one-time deal. Our efforts to market industrial buildings have undergone a paradigm shift. For years, we were calling potential investors to inquire if they might be interested in investing in West Michigan. Now, investors from California to Canada to New York are calling us.
Why this shift? West Michigan has so many positives — starting with the diversity of our manufacturing, ranging from staples such as office furniture to emerging sectors such as medical devices. Add to that an educated, largely non-union workforce, the public-private investment in infrastructure, and increased cultural offerings such as ArtPrize, and Grand Rapids has become a very attractive location for investment. It isn’t subject to the boom-and-bust cycles that many areas of the country experience, based on the success or failure of a single industry.
We are a stable market, with great fundamentals and a solidified backing of both local and non-local capital, and we believe the future is very bright. We expect to see continued outside interest in West Michigan going forward, and we all will gain as a result.