Business News

Major donations expand Muskegon Community College downtown space, entrepreneurial program

Muskegon Community College's presence in downtown has just expanded by nearly 24,000 square feet with the announcement of two major gifts to the college's entrepreneurial studies program.

Local developer Jonathan Rooks has donated the former Masonic Temple as a new entrepreneurial studies building, college officials announced Wednesday. The building is next door to the college's downtown building currently undergoing transformation into an applied technology center.

Rooks' business partner and friend, Nick Sarnicola and his wife Ashley, have pledged $200,000 to fund annual grants to MCC entrepreneurial studies graduates.

The former Masonic Temple will be renamed the Rooks Sarnicola Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. It will open to students in fall 2017, according to college officials.

"This is big," said Dr. Donald Crandall, president of the MCC board of trustees. "This is really important for downtown."

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Alcoa investing $22 million into aerospace technology at Whitehall facility

Alcoa Power and Propulsion's momentum in the aerospace industry took another giant leap on Tuesday, June 2.

Fewer than seven months after Alcoa announced a $16.7 million expansion to its facility in Whitehall, the lightweight, high-performance metals leader announced a $22 million investment in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at the location.

The Whitehall facility already serves as the global headquarters for Alcoa Power and Propulsion.

The investment will enable Alcoa to capture the growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for jet engines. The investment is expected to create approximately five new jobs at the Whitehall facility.

"As aerospace growth soars, Alcoa continues to invest in the latest technologies, creating added capacity to capture fast-growing demand," said Olivier Jarrault, executive VP and Alcoa Group president, engineered products and solutions, in a news release.

"Combined with our expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia and our growing 3D printing capabilities, this investment will give Alcoa the broadest capabilities to deliver high-quality titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world's bestselling jet engines."

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There’s a Reason to WATCH MUSKEGON

watch muskegon_billboard

MUSKEGON is the message that is being conveyed through a multi-faceted, community image improvement campaign taking place along the Muskegon Lakeshore.  The message behind the marketing component of this 14 point campaign was created to produce awareness about the community’s numerous assets, recent developments and overall appeal.

“The Muskegon region has undergone many changes in recent years and it’s time people learned about the positive changes that are taking place here,” said Bob Lukens, Community Development Director for Muskegon County. Lukens is referring to Muskegon’s low unemployment, millions of dollars in capital investment and many exciting new businesses downtown such as the Farmer’s Market, breweries and others.

This WATCH MUSKEGON message will be seen throughout Muskegon County and the rest of West Michigan encouraging citizens and neighbors to get engaged in their community and understand what is here and that this is just the beginning.  The message will be seen over the next several years through grassroots marketing efforts, online marketing, billboards, radio and television ads, industry publications, on Muskegon County buses and other unique forms of advertising.

The concept for this campaign began as a replacement for the welcome sign as you enter the downtown area from Seaway Drive. “Initially, we wanted to let visitors and residents know that things are happening in Muskegon and that there is momentum here,” says City of Muskegon Manager Frank Peterson. “We know there’s still work to be done and that this is a work in progress… in fact, we’re just getting started.”

To carry the momentum forward, an oversight committee was formed and the concept is evolving into a larger, local, regional, and maybe one day national campaign.  “It has really evolved from a single city sign, to a campaign that better shows Muskegon’s progress and the people that are making it happen,” says Cindy Larsen, President of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

Community residents, businesses and others are all encouraged to utilize the message in any internal and external publications understanding that the message will attract employees, investments, residents, students, businesses and others to the area.  “We are glad to see a campaign that can be adaptable for a wide variety of uses throughout our diverse community,” says Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund. 

This community-wide marketing campaign is just one of the strategies currently underway to change people’s perception of the Muskegon Lakeshore community. In a 14 point image improvement plan authored by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce it reads, when people appreciate, promote and invest in a community, the local economy grows. The community attracts residents, visitors, businesses and workforce talent. 

It is for this reason that numerous community stakeholders are allocating resources and staff time to projects which promote Muskegon’s image as a premier waterfront community.

“There are things happening in Muskegon.  We’re just getting started and we hope people will notice the progress that’s being made,” Lukens added.  

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Construction begins on 'urban lake house' development at Terrace Point Landing

It's been more than two years in the making, but the first home at Terrace Point Landing, the Muskegon lakefront development near downtown Muskegon, is under construction.

Plans for the $12 million development call for 70 "cottage-style" homes, 28 of them on the lake with options for private docks.

The home being built is a model home, but construction on five more for private buyers is expected to begin by the end of this month, said Jon Rooks, owner of Parkland Properties of Michigan, which is developing Terrace Point Landing. Completion of the model home is expected by July 4, Rooks said.

Roads are in and utilities are set to go. One of the final steps before sales can be completed was getting the city commission to accept the streets into the city street system, Rooks said. That happened Tuesday. With that completed, a master deed for the site condo development can be filed. The master deed is needed for buyers to get financing, Rooks said.

"We have a ton of people who are interested," he said.

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Muskegon City Commission: Tax breaks for 3 downtown projects on this week's agenda

Tax breaks to help drive significant redevelopment of three vacant downtown buildings to house a restaurant, salon, brewery facilities and more will be considered by the Muskegon City Commission this week.

A total of $1.2 million is expected to be invested in the properties and nearly 100 new jobs created, according to background information provided the city commission. Commercial facilities exemption certificates for the three properties would freeze property taxes for 12 years at levels before the improvements begin. They require owners to complete the projects within two years.

The city commission will consider the requests when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12.

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Art, music, fireworks to highlight Muskegon Fourth of July celebration

Muskegon's long-standing tradition of hosting events during the Fourth of July will continue in 2015.

And despite some doubts following the loss of the Coast West Music Festival a couple of years ago, music will be part of the package.

The Independence Day festivities will be a combination of established Muskegon events including the Lakeshore Art Festival and the Muskegon RockStock Music Festival on July 3-4. The weekend's events will also include a fireworks show on July 4 coordinated by the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

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Muskegon area vital to 'Pure Michigan' campaign's promotion of lighthouses, Great Lakes

The state's "Pure Michigan" campaign is one of the country's most successful and the Muskegon area remains a vital part of its continued progress.

Among the area's greatest assets to the campaign, which was launched in 2006, are its lakes, its proximity to Lake Michigan and its wealth of historic lighthouses, according to David West, vice president of Travel Michigan for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

West spoke to a packed house at the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce's Business for Breakfast on Friday, April 24. West also said craft beer is a category Michigan is primed to "own" from a nationwide perspective. "Lake living" and lighthouses are also two areas where Michigan can thrive, and Muskegon is a huge part of that. The state's "Pure Michigan" campaign is one of the country's most successful and the Muskegon area remains a vital part of its continued progress.

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$2.9 million scholarship fundraising effort launched for Muskegon Promise

An effort to raise $2.9 million for Muskegon Area Promise scholarships has been launched seven years after Muskegon County was included in efforts to replicate the successful Kalamazoo Promise.

The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District announced Wednesday plans to raise $250,000 by May 1 and $500,000 in the next year. The "last dollar" scholarships will be available to students with a 3.5 or higher grade point average to pursue two-year degrees or certificates from Muskegon Community College or Baker College.

Muskegon County is among 10 communities, and the only county, in the state that have formed Promise Zones that can capture tax increases to help fund scholarships.

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Muskegon economic, workforce, education agencies create business assistance program

Four Muskegon organizations have combined to create a new business outreach program for West Michigan companies.

The Muskegon Business Resource Team is a cooperative effort Michigan Works! Muskegon-Oceana, Muskegon Area First, Muskegon Community College and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce that will help to educate companies about various business programs, resources, workforce development initiatives and training services.

"Each of our core members individually call on businesses all the time to talk about their services," said Ed Garner, president of Muskegon Area First. "We felt that by creating the BRT it would be a better delivery system to inform companies about what's available to help them grow and expand."

To continue reading this story, visit MLive . . . 


Second Muskegon Chronicle building sold as downtown development continues

The recent sale of the former Muskegon Chronicle circulation building fills one more development spot on downtown Muskegon's West Western Avenue.

That and other recent developments mean there are just a few existing buildings available for development - and raise the likelihood for new construction to begin along that core downtown thoroughfare, said Jonathan Seyferth, executive director of Downtown Muskegon Now.

Core Realty Partners, which had the former newspaper building listing, ended up purchasing the building at the corner of West Western and Fourth Street. The plan is to move the expanding real estate office into the new building by June 1, said Steve Mastella, a broker partner with Core Realty.

To continue reading this story, visit MLive . . . 


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