Muskegon Area First releases findings of its first Business Intelligence Report

Community News |Sep 12, 2017|4 min read


Increasing sales spurs business expansion plans in Muskegon County


MUSKEGON, MI – Three out of four employers surveyed in Muskegon County anticipate expanding their operations in the next 3 years according to the first Muskegon County Business Intelligence Report presented by Muskegon Area First on Monday, September 10. Expansion plans are based on 63% of these companies reporting increased sales over the past year and anticipated business growth. The report was produced by Muskegon Area First in collaboration with the Lakeshore Advantage Economic Development Corp. Muskegon Area First held one-on-one information gathering interviews with 30 Muskegon County primary employers during the first half of 2017.


In comparison, 58% of companies in the U.S. Midwest Census Region, which is made up of 11 states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) reported sales increases. One in two of these employers self-reported looking to expand during the next 3 years. The U.S. Midwest Census Region was chosen as a benchmark due to its similar composition of industry and competitive base.


In addition to the 63% sales gain, 27% of Muskegon businesses interviewed reported sales as stable and 10% stated a decrease in sales in the past year. In contrast, U.S. Midwest Census Region companies noted that along with the 58% sales increase that 8% of the businesses had stable sales while 34% experienced decreasing sales.
In the last 3 years, Muskegon area “primary employers” which are defined as companies that produce goods in the area, export them out of the area, and return wealth, have or
are in the process of investing over $123 million in equipment and facilities. Examples of investments include:


– Bayer CropScience invested $50 million to expand its facilities in 2015;
– GE Aviation completed a $14 million expansion in 2017;
– Arconic is preparing its $38 million expansion; and
– KL Outdoor/GSC’s $9 million recently announced expansion is underway.


Additionally, the employers interviewed project $32 million in investment with 280 jobs created over the next 3 years. The sales number and investment received a welcome response. Darryl Todd, Interim President/CEO of Muskegon Area First says, “These numbers [sales and investment] are very encouraging and bode well for the economy here in Muskegon County”.
While sales have increased, 62% of companies interviewed revealed that barriers preventing expansion do exist. A lack of available and work-ready talent was divulged as the main barrier, according to 45% of those Muskegon area companies reporting barriers to growth. These employers assert that they could pursue additional sales opportunities if the workforce was more available and prepared to work. U.S. Midwest Census Region reported 37% of their employers experience barriers that prohibit business development.


Because of the talent barrier, 59% of the companies surveyed had unfilled positions. Key in-demand positions noted were skilled workers and engineers. Efforts are underway to reduce lack of talent as a barrier. Todd says, “The Muskegon community has generated momentum to address the skills gap and other talent issues”. He adds, “Several initiatives, such as Linked Muskegon, the Muskegon Community College Downtown Center, and others are steps in the right direction and it is necessary to continue to develop and coordinate programming and resources to address the job skills and talent attraction needs”.


The report will help future planning in Muskegon County. Todd says, “Some of this information we were aware of anecdotally, like what’s going on with talent and recruitment”, he adds, “the ability to quantify what’s affecting our businesses will help us make better informed decisions as we work to assist them”. The findings are a part of the first-ever West Michigan Lakeshore Regional Business Intelligence Report, which consists of results of information collected from 117 companies located in Muskegon, Ottawa, and Allegan Counties. For more information, go to: 2017 Muskegon County Business Intelligence Report presentation and 2017 West Michigan Lakeshore Regional Business Intelligence Report.


ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION – Muskegon Area First is a countywide economic development corporation focused on leveraging public and private investment to accelerate business growth and the creation of high-quality employment opportunities in Muskegon County.
Founded in 1999 by area business and governmental leaders, Muskegon Area First is the lead agency for economic development projects in the area. Muskegon Area First is public/private agency made up of 14 municipal members and 4 private sector members working towards a mission of enhancing the economic vitality in Muskegon County consistent with its quality of life.


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