Business News

Muskegon's leisure and hospitality sector drives economic activity

Downtown Muskegon, once known as an industrial town, has shed its former image to become a vibrant destination.

Investments in renovations in the downtown area and the growth of the leisure and hospitality sector are influencing the momentum behind the economic development in Muskegon and the surrounding county area.

Click here to read the full story in the Grand Rapids Business Journal... 


Lakeshore's 'hidden gem' rebounds from recession

Muskegon is in the midst of more than $400 million in new investment and development...

As unemployment levels decline and investments in Muskegon County continue to increase, economic activity is on the rise.

Investments in expansion projects in the manufacturing sector make it one of several industries driving economic development in Muskegon, and employment figures continue to rise among the different areas.

Click here to read the full story in the Grand Rapids Business Journal


CWC Textron in Roosevelt Park receives additional tax break, extension for $6 million projects

KWS CWC Textron 2 TK

July 10, 2014 --- Two resolutions approved by Roosevelt Park officials this summer will relieve CWC Textron of paying the city thousands in personal property taxes for projects worth more than $6 million.

The foundry, which produces camshafts for major automakers such as Toyota and Ford Motor Co., requested a six-year extension to an Industrial Facilities Exemption granted in 2007.

The 106-year-old company, located at 1085 W. Sherman Boulevard, also asked for a new 12-year tax break for two new capital improvement projects officials said would create seven jobs.  

Roosevelt Park council members unanimously approved the extension and a new exemption for six years rather than the requested 12-year duration.

Mayor Allan C. Lowe, citing a conflict of interest, abstained from voting.

Based on the 2013 combined millage rate of 55.7064, the exemptions for the new projects will provide $165,113 to all taxing jurisdictions during the first year of the abatement and will reduce CWC's taxes by the same amount.

The projects will also cause the city to forfeit $17,191 in annual revenue, or half of the city's Downtown Development Authority $34,382 capture, based on calculations provided by City Manager Anthony Chandler and Treasurer Sarah Petersen.

The extension tax break, which is related to a $1.3 million Toyota camshaft operation, will cost Roosevelt Park about $1,899 in personal property tax revenue every year.

CWC Textron controller Tracy Bytwerk said the Toyota project will continue indefinitely and will allow the firm to create three new positions to the camshaft line by 2016. She said the Toyota line has created and retained nine positions since its inception.

Bytwerk said the new projects will facilitate property upgrades and represent a $5.9 million investment.

The first venture will cost the company $1.4 million and will accommodate Ford's new 2.7 liter V-6 "Nano" engine. Company officials, who contend that one-third of the cars in North America use its camshaft products, said the automaker will begin using CWC's case ductile camshafts.

By 2016, the company said it would have added four jobs for the Nano project and reached full production to produce 1.3 million camshafts annually.

CWC's second endeavor will cost $4.5 million and will encompass using an automated system for its pouring line. CWC contends that the project will eliminate variation, potential quality defects and create a safer working environment.

The pouring line project will displace six employees from their current roles and put them into different positions at the Sherman Boulevard plant.

Bytwerk said the firm will boast 301 employees by the end of 2014 and has already made a commitment to union members that no jobs will be lost.

In response to Councilman Eric Grimm's question if the project would still be "economically feasible" without the tax break, CWC officials said the exemption would help the company remain competitive by offering castings at a good price.

"It helps to keep us current with the customers," Bytwerk said.

During the public hearing for tax break requests, Muskegon Area First President and CEO Ed Garner said the agency supported the request and noted that the company had considered launching the new projects outside of the Muskegon area.

While Mayor Pro Tem Rod Buikema suggested a six-year term for the new abatement, Grimm recommended the city grant the new abatement for only three years because of council member term limits.

"It's not that uncommon that we do have an impact on future city councils, but whenever we do anything that affects residents, we do want to think about how we tie the hands of the future city council," Grimm told MLive Muskegon Chronicle. "I just raised the issue to make sure people are thinking about it."

Councilwoman Melissa Klos had recommended the council approve the exemption extension for a period fewer than six years, while Buikema said he favored granting the CWC's six-year request because the city already approved the same arrangement in 2007. He also cited the firm's longevity and existence in the community. 

Read the full article on MLive here.


HHL Elbe the Latest Cargo Ship Carrying Wind Turbine Parts to Arrive in Muskegon

 July 8, 2014 --- Muskegon's port is no stranger to  large ships, but people in the area might have noticed  a new addition when they woke up on Tuesday, July 8.

 The Hansa Heavy Lift (HHL) Elbe, a 454-foot cargo  ship, has been docked at the Mart Dock on Muskegon  Lake since Monday night. According to witnesses, the  ship passed through the Muskegon Channel around  9:30 p.m.

 The Liberian flag-flying vessel is owned by HHL and  is one of many ships in the German-based company's fleet. According to its website, HHL specializes in the transportation of heavy-lift, project and break-bulk cargoes across all oceans of the world.

Upon its arrival in Muskegon, the Elbe, which was built in 2008, was carrying several wind turbine parts, including 36 blades, 11 generator units called nacelles and four containers with assorted parts.

According to Ed Hogan, vice-president of operations for Port City Marine Services, the parts are bound for the Beebe Community Wind Farm in Gratiot County south of Mount Pleasant and north of Lansing.

This is the first of four shipments expected to take place as part of the project this year. Three more are expected in August, Hogan said.

Seven shipments of wind turbine parts arrived in Muskegon in 2012.

Before arriving in Muskegon, the vessel had made several stops in Canada since departing from Bremerhaven, Germany on June 18, according to 

"Saltwater vessels come into the Great Lakes all the time, but it's pretty rare for Muskegon these days," Hogan said. "We're working to get more ships in here, though, because there may be opportunities for outbound cargo. Potentially, we can reload these ships with West Michigan products and create some real opportunities."

Hogan said the unloading process got off to a rough start Tuesday morning thanks to storms in the area, but he is hopeful it will only take a couple of days.

Click here to read the article on Mlive.


The Deck opens to eager crowd at Pere Marquette Park

June 28, 2014 --- Eating on the beach has never been so easy until now. The Deck, located on 1601 Beach St., opened its doors to a welcoming crowd Wednesday, June 25 on the outskirts of Pere Marquette Beach.

 Courtney Peterman, general manager of The Deck, said they haven't pinpointed a specific time to stay open, but are operating on a temporary schedule -- 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

"It's been great so far," Peterman said of the early attendance. "We've been really busy at lunch and dinner, and we are ready for the upcoming weekend with this gorgeous weather."

The Deck, a new Lake Michigan restaurant opens in Muskegon
The Deck, the new restaurant on Lake Michigan at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon is now open for business after extensive renovations took place at the site this spring.

The Deck has all kinds of smoked items which are made in house from scratch.

These items range from smoked chicken, pulled pork, sausage, beef brisket, nachos, salads and burritos. The deck also offers a healthier choice for beach-goers with gluten-free and allergy-free items.

"I would say our pulled pork sandwich is a staple here," Peterman said, "although our Beach Burritos have been really popular as well."

The Deck does not have a liquor license yet, however, they are expecting one within the next week, Peterman said.

The building was renovated and completely different from what it used to look like, Peterman added.

"We will have live music on the weekends starting in July," Peterman said, "and we've got pontoons mounted to our deck, so you can look out over the water and watch more of the boats come in from the lake."


Muskegon County Airport receives $2.2 million federal award for summer projects

CPM Muskegon Airport 02.jpg

June 26, 2014 --- NORTON SHORES, MI – A $2.2 million award supported and announced by U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday, June 24 will help fund two special summer projects planned by the Muskegon County Airport this year.

U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced support of the U.S. Department of Transportation grant to Muskegon County Airport, which will launch projects affecting the facility's airfield.

The first project, which will cost $2.2 million, will expand and reconstruct the runway apron that handles general and commercial aviation activity. Airport Manager Marty Piette said the pavement has not been upgraded for at least 25 years.

The second project will allow the airport to conduct an obstruction survey to check structures that may block pilots' views and cause other problems.

Piette said the airport typically receives a federal entitlement worth $1 million every year, but this year, the facility received additional funds because it had not launched any major projects in recent years and had carried over funds from previous funding cycles.

The monetary award is part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program, which was established under the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982 to help public-use airports. Previous related airport programs date back to 1946.

Lawmakers this week also announced that four other Michigan airports would receive funds. The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, for example, will get $1.4 million to extend and rehabilitate the taxiway and to help it acquire 68 acres of new land for development.

Stabenow said in a release that making sure passengers can travel to and from West Michigan is vital to the state's economy.

Levin made similar remarks and said transportation was "an essential ingredient in economic growth and job creation."

As part of the Muskegon County Airport's first project, it will also expand the airport ramp that handles the aircrafts used for the charter flights to Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort & Casino in Laughlin, Nev.

Piette said the charter service flights, operated by Sun Country Airlines and launched in October 2012, sell out continuously.

Currently, the airport can only use one of its two bridges because of the ramp's smaller size, he said.

County Commissioner Rillastine Wilkins, who is the chair of the county's transportation committee, said the process for the second project would involve assessing trees and making sure pilots face optimal clearance.

Piette said trees and other objects such as new cell phone towers and TV antennas could be removed after the survey is completed.

Piette said the county would have the ability to trim any trees if necessary because it has easements to most of the property that might affect airport activity. The survey will cost $28,500 to conduct, he said.

Piette said the airport continues to pursue prospective airlines to add service to and from Muskegon County. SkyWest, the regional carrier operating as United Airlines, is the only airline to operate from the facility aside from the carrier that travels to Riverside Resort & Casino, he said.

Last year, the airport announced plans to use $60,000 from a $80,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation to add a bathroom beyond its security checkpoint.

Figures released last year marked the first significant increase in passenger activity since the 2008 economic downtown and Northwest Airlines acquisition by Delta Airlines. Overall passenger activity in 2012 had increased by 27 percent compared to the previous year's figures.

Read the article here on MLive.


Dynamic Conveyor Corporation Honored as One of Michigan’s Economic Bright Spots

June 26, 2014 --- Manufacturer of custom conveyor systems for manufacturing and food processing industries earns award for helping to drive Michigan’s economy forward

 Dynamic Conveyor Corporation has been named one of Michigan’s Economic Bright Spots by Corp! Magazine.  The award recognizes Michigan companies and entrepreneurs who are a driving force in our economy and state’s innovation.   The Muskegon based conveyor company received recognition in early June.

Dynamic Conveyor has been a source of innovative custom conveyor systems since 1991.  The company provides alternatives to traditional conveyor systems to both the parts manufacturing and food processing industries. 

The DynaCon® conveyor systems offer parts manufacturers the ability to build their own conveyor systems using modules (like Lego® building blocks) to configure and later reconfigure their conveyor layouts.  Modules are built using plastic injection molded parts, which bring strength and durability to the systems while being light-weight enough to be portable.   Reconfiguration of the DynaCon systems offers an eco-friendly and sustainable conveying solution.

DynaCon and_DynaClean

The DynaClean™ line of custom conveyor systems is designed to save food processors money.  Cost savings start by building the units with corrosion and chemical resistant plastic components and minimal stainless steel.  The patent pending design saves time and resources by allowing the conveyor to be quickly disassembled, cleaned and returned to service, without the use of tools.  Conveyor components are engineered to interchange with each other, making the systems easy to modify. 

All custom conveyor systems offered by Dynamic Conveyor offer flexibility of design which includes choices for length, width, inclines, declines, lateral turns, belt styles and an array of accessory options.  The systems are designed to require no maintenance, lubrication or need for belt tracking.

“We are very pleased to be honored with this award.  We strive to offer products that are unique and offer cost-saving advantages to our customers,” said Jill Batka, president at Dynamic Conveyor.  “With the addition of our DynaClean line, we hope continue making a positive impact on Michigan’s economy.” 

Awards were presented at a breakfast on June 12.  Honorees will also be featured in Corp!‘s May/June 2014 print edition and in the June 19th Everything Business ePublication.  

Read more about the award on Corp! Magazine’s website.   Information about Dynamic Conveyor Corporation and their conveyor systems can be found at

Read the article here on PR Web.


Lakeshore Art Festival Returns to Muskegon Fourth of July Weekend

Lakeshore Art_Festival_Logo_webAfter a successful maiden voyage a year ago, the Lakeshore Art Festival is returning to the Muskegon area.

The event, which is scheduled for July 4-5 in downtown Muskegon, showcases nearly 250 exhibitors – stationed in Hackley Park and down Western Avenue to First Street -- along with music, street performers and activities for all ages.

Click here for the full story on mlive and find out what is new this year...


GROW expands microloan program to lakeshore

Support from a community foundation led Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) to set up shop in Muskegon to provide microloans to small businesses on the lakeshore.

The Grand Rapids-based GROW now holds office hours on Wednesdays every other week at the Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in downtown Muskegon so a representative can meet with small business owners interested in seeking microloans.

- See more at:


Hackley Public Library set to celebrate $1.2 million in improvements


hackley lib

May 14, 2014. MUSKEGON, MI -- Keeping Hackley Public Library a "building of character" as well as one that remains relevant 123 years after it was built was the goal of a massive renovation project that has both restored the library's historic features and made it more convenient for modern users.

The $1.2 million "Building of Character" project has resulted in a library that is brighter and safer with more community space. Funded with private donations, grants and savings, the project is nearing completion and the public is invited to take a peek during a daylong public open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 16.

"It looks much nicer," said library Director Martha Ferriby. "It looks much more authentic."

Gone are the moldings that ran along ceilings and walls, covering electrical wiring that now is hidden inside the walls. Gone are the mercury vapor lights on the massive main floor that Ferriby said gave the library a "Kmart" look.

New is the leaf-patterned carpeting on the same main floor that mimics the leaf motif carvings in the library's ornate woodwork. Also new is the paint, with colors carefully chosen -- through paint scraping, photographs and written descriptions -- to be as authentic as possible.

Restored is the night sky ceiling painting in the stairwell leading up to the children's department that older library-goers remembered from their childhoods. Also restored are a series of archways in the lower level, which has been transformed into a community meeting space complete with a performance area for musicians and authors.

Details, both small and large, have been carefully planned for more than 10 years. Library staff visited libraries throughout Michigan, including those in Ypsilanti, Saginaw, Howell and Albion, and Ferriby visited some in other states during her personal vacations, to develop ideas for the best use of the restricted space.

"The focus became how can we use this space in the best possible way," Ferriby said.

Keeping it authentic

A reconfigured layout on the main floor includes a new spot near the front door for the massive circulation desk, which now highlights a historic terra cotta fireplace. Wood panels from the original circulation desk were used on the outside of the new desk to keep the look historic, though the function is more modern.

The famed stained glass windows now glow more brightly with lighter paint and ceiling plaster details that previously disappeared under the old uniform pink paint are highlighted with a contrasting color.

The public computers in the library's "East Room" now are placed on round tables that had been in the upstairs children's department and mimic original round tables encircling pillars in the room. The round tables provide more privacy for computer users as well as more space for library staff and others to pull up a chair than the previous rectangular tables, Ferriby said.

The round computer tables were an idea Ferriby said she picked up on a visit to the library in Dubuque, Iowa.

"It looks friendlier and it gives more space," she said.

A smaller room off of the East Room, originally a ladies reading room, provides private work tables for tutors to meet with their students. The room, graced with a tiled fireplace, had housed Ferriby's office which has been relocated to the lower level.

Across the library from the East Room is the Julia Hackley Room, named after library donor Charles H. Hackley's wife. The room has a new cork floor and a colorful 13-by-22-foot Oriental rug made around 1900 that was donated by local resident and former city commissioner Sue Wierengo.

The electrical service throughout the library and light fixtures have been replaced. They were chosen to replicate original fixtures which were both gas and electric. Electricity from Charles Hackley's sawmill would light the library during the day, but once the sawmill and electricity were turned off for the day, gas was used to light the historic stone library.

While efforts were made to preserve the historical features of Hackley Public Library, current library users were also kept in mind. There are more electrical outlets on the main floor to accommodate laptop users. The lower level restrooms installed in 1935 were completely gutted, and the children's department restrooms also will be renovated once new emergency exits are completed. 

Looking forward

Space has been an ongoing issue for the library, which had more than 261,000 visits last year. Several years ago, the library board even asked to make a building trade with Muskegon Public Schools, Ferriby said. The much larger, 50,000-square-foot Hackley Administration Building, located kitty-corner from the library, would have provided all the space the library needed, the board believed. But the school district, which owns both the historic buildings, declined the trade and so the board proceeded to do the best it could with the 27,214-square-foot library.

"This is a busy place, and we're stuffed to the gills," Ferriby said.

A large amount of space was opened up with the relocation of the library's local history and genealogy department to the Torrent House building across the street from the library. That move freed up the library's lower level, which now houses the new administrative offices as well as a large community gathering space appropriate for classes and meetings. Finishing touches are being put on a small performance area nestled into a rounded space on the lower level that is flanked by columns.

There are still needs -- nearly $3 million worth. The library still doesn't have air conditioning, and that along with energy efficient windows and replacement of the 50-year-old boiler is part of the next phase of improvements. Eventually, the entrance and front door area will be upgraded.

But, for now, the library supporters will take a break and enjoy what they've accomplished. Ferriby said she feels confident the library is in good condition with flexible space that will serve Muskegon for another century.

"It's up to us to take care of this building," she said. "And who knows, what this building will be in 100 years."

Read the article here on MLive.



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