GRDadof3

West Michigan/GR Economy

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A lot of projects in Grand Rapids and West Michigan are due to the full-blown economic recovery in the area. I thought it'd be interesting to start a thread about some of the resources discussing the local economy, which has recently been listed as the #5 or #7 best jobs market in the country (depending on who you ask).

 

This is a cool interactive map set up by a partnership to expand STEM in the U.S., and was focused on areas that were leading in advanced manufacturing. Grand Rapids is "dark green" which represents one of the hottest growth trends for MSA's from 2010 - 2013.

 

http://www.economicmodeling.com/industry-map/

 

Other dark green metros are Houston, Austin, Bakersfield and San Jose, CA.

 

The online state pub Bridge Michigan has an economic snapshot of Grand Rapids, which now has a local GDP of $48 Billion (seems like it was $45 Billion just 3 or 4 years ago when I looked it up).

 

http://bridgemi.com/2014/10/the-economies-of-michigan-grand-rapids/

 

That GDP is now twice that of Lansing's and 3x Flint's GDP, and almost 1/4's of Detroit's now.

 

I'll post more when I find them. ;)

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Interesting #s. 

 

GR's Arts, Entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food service took a nice 7.3% jump and has a 23.2% jump in the prior  six years.

 

I love seeing a surge in this sector and I hope it can continue its growth, I think its pivotal for maintaining GR as a fun city.

 

I think the numbers were built on beer and Art Prize and the White Water Project can keep it growing. 

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Interesting #s. 

 

GR's Arts, Entertainment, recreation, accommodations and food service took a nice 7.3% jump and has a 23.2% jump in the prior  six years.

 

I love seeing a surge in this sector and I hope it can continue its growth, I think its pivotal for maintaining GR as a fun city.

 

I think the numbers were built on beer and Art Prize and the White Water Project can keep it growing. 

 

I would love to see the earnings go up though. At about $49,000 average, we're one of the lowest in the country. There appears to have been a 10% bump in earnings in that time period though.

 

This one's an interesting study too by the Manhattan Institute (a public policy institute and not a Forbes magazine pseudo science list). You have to go down to Table 4 where Grand Rapids was ranked #3 metro in the country.

 

http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_89.htm#04

 

Grand Rapids reminds us that Michigan manufacturing is not all about automobiles. If this MSA has one signature industry, it is office furniture: Steelcase, Herman Miller, and other global leaders in the industry are based here. The good news is that Grand Rapids profits from business expansion—more employees mean more chairs and desks. The risk is that business contraction has the opposite effect. Then again, people will still need shoes (Wolverine Worldwide) and might take a shot at selling for Amway (based here). So far, the diverse economy of Grand Rapids has served it well in the recovery, with a boost from an increasingly friendly Michigan business climate.

3. Grand Rapids–Wyoming, MI

Population: 1,005,648

Per-capita GDP growth: 11.5%

Per-capita personal income growth: 13.5%

Private-sector job growth: 9.1%

Earnings growth led by: Manufacturing (+20.6%)

Job growth led by: Professional and business services (+28.1%)

Fortune 500 companies: None

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I would love to see the earnings go up though. At about $49,000 average, we're one of the lowest in the country. 

 

Fortune 500 companies: None

 

I noticed the earnings average too, but I guess we need to remember that Grand Rapids is historically one of the least expensive places to live in the country.....Housing is very inexpensive. I agree, it would be nice to see that average increase.

 

Isn't SpartanNash a Fortune 500 company?  I didn't see them listed on the Fortune list for 2014 either.

Edited by mpchicago

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That Ranking only reflects Spartans name change to Spartan Nash.   Its the old  Spartan stores revenue.  Look at the revenue piece in that link it shows 2.6 billion.   Nash Finch had 2013 revenues of over 7 billion  This is the first full year after the merger.  Wait for the 2015 Fortune 500 list it will reflect the revenue of both Spartan and Nash Finch.   Nash Finch was in the 350-400 range on it's own.  

 

 

 

Grand Rapids reminds us that Michigan manufacturing is not all about automobiles. If this MSA has one signature industry, it is officefurniture: Steelcase, Herman Miller, and other global leaders in the industry are based here. The good news is that Grand Rapids profits from business expansion—more employees mean more chairs and desks. The risk is that business contraction has the opposite effect. Then again, people will still need shoes (Wolverine Worldwide) and might take a shot at selling for Amway (based here). So far, the diverse economy of Grand Rapids has served it well in the recovery, with a boost from an increasingly friendly Michigan business climate.

 

I feel like this quote is misleading as office furniture has been a long time staple in West Michigan, but the manufacturing of the furniture and parts related to it has been declining for years. The  STEM jobs are what have been growing.  We like to pride GR on being known for the biotech, health sciences and office furniture, but auto parts suppliers play a huge but quiet role in GR and have a dominating part of the economy as well.     

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Our orders in Q4 have boomed. So much so that we are now past our capacity and are planning expansion. We have orders that will take nearly a year each to complete. Our bonuses have been record setting this year and our staff is on mandatory overtime.

Even with this giant boom, we are having an extremely difficult time hiring people; temps and full time. 80% of applicants don't even pass the drug test, let alone make it far enough to take the entrance tests. These are good, solid, long employment opportunities. They don't have astronomic salaries attached but certainly enough to live on.

The big honches are taking into consideration the possibility of expanding our footprint OUTSIDE of Michigan if we can't staff up.

In short, this boom is big and real but there's a lot of work that needs to be done in GR.

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That Ranking only reflects Spartans name change to Spartan Nash.   Its the old  Spartan stores revenue.  Look at the revenue piece in that link it shows 2.6 billion.   Nash Finch had 2013 revenues of over 7 billion  This is the first full year after the merger.  Wait for the 2015 Fortune 500 list it will reflect the revenue of both Spartan and Nash Finch.   Nash Finch was in the 350-400 range on it's own.  

 

 

I feel like this quote is misleading as office furniture has been a long time staple in West Michigan, but the manufacturing of the furniture and parts related to it has been declining for years. The  STEM jobs are what have been growing.  We like to pride GR on being known for the biotech, health sciences and office furniture, but auto parts suppliers play a huge but quiet role in GR and have a dominating part of the economy as well.     

 

That's like this quote in the related STEM article:

 

Grand Rapids doesn’t generally leap to mind as a manufacturing center, but of the nation’s largest 100 metro areas, it boasts the highest concentration of advanced manufacturing jobs. The 42 percent increase in those jobs over the past five years has certainly helped its standing.

 

That's strange, it seems like a manufacturing center to the locals. :) Good to see ol Nessie and the table and chairs again, lol.

 

http://changetheequation.org/blog/top-5-us-cities-advanced-manufacturing-0

 

And there's this, with a WILD picture of Civic Theatre.

 

http://changetheequation.org/blog/top-5-cities-new-engineering-jobs

 

I don't know if Ted Roelofs was looking at google anayltics and saw UP pointing at Bridge, but two articles out today about Grand Rapids:

 

http://bridgemi.com/2014/11/grand-rapids-growth-invites-civic-pride/

 

http://bridgemi.com/2014/11/see-which-michigan-regions-are-growing-the-fastest/

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Our orders in Q4 have boomed. So much so that we are now past our capacity and are planning expansion. We have orders that will take nearly a year each to complete. Our bonuses have been record setting this year and our staff is on mandatory overtime.

Even with this giant boom, we are having an extremely difficult time hiring people; temps and full time. 80% of applicants don't even pass the drug test, let alone make it far enough to take the entrance tests. These are good, solid, long employment opportunities. They don't have astronomic salaries attached but certainly enough to live on.

The big honches are taking into consideration the possibility of expanding our footprint OUTSIDE of Michigan if we can't staff up.

In short, this boom is big and real but there's a lot of work that needs to be done in GR.

 

Where do you work?  :)   And what do you mean when you say... there's a lot of work that need to be done in GR?  

Edited by mpchicago
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A local $ Billion + manufacturer.

The work mainly includes reducing the amount of drug users and infrastructure. Our systems are all dependant on internet today and paying out the nose for an ISP to lay fiber is frustrating. Also, roads...yes an ongoing concern but with almost all our product leaving by truck, it is very important for our truck fleet and customers. Our sewage system has come along way in the past decade but is still not near ideal. These fundamental things are considered when discussing spending a couple hundred million here or in, say, Pennsylvania.

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Even with this giant boom, we are having an extremely difficult time hiring people; temps and full time. 80% of applicants don't even pass the drug test, let alone make it far enough to take the entrance tests. These are good, solid, long employment opportunities. They don't have astronomic salaries attached but certainly enough to live on.

 

 

I'll never understand why people without a job spend all day getting high. it seems to me without an income that these folks would be better off saving their money for something more useful.  If your personal situation needs improvement, I don't see how getting high can possibly get you any closer to success.

 

I think that income is tied to cost of living. the low cost of living is one of the principle attractions for me.  I could take my job anywhere but compared to a major metro, our income goes several times further, especially as it relates to housing.

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I'll never understand why people without a job spend all day getting high. it seems to me without an income that these folks would be better off saving their money for something more useful.  If your personal situation needs improvement, I don't see how getting high can possibly get you any closer to success.

 

I think that income is tied to cost of living. the low cost of living is one of the principle attractions for me.  I could take my job anywhere but compared to a major metro, our income goes several times further, especially as it relates to housing.

 

Drugs are an easy escape for allot of people down on their luck. Am I condoning the use of drugs? Heck no! But I also see why such people resort to using street drugs. Being down on ones luck, poor, maybe living in a disfunctional houshold brought on by being poor is not exactly a healthy envionment to the human physcie. Unfortunately many people finding themselves in dire strights are simply overwhelmed by emotional stress of it. Unable or not willing to find more constructive ways to vent their emotional stress due to being stifled by being poor and without a job, drugs, smoking, drinking, and any such bad habbits and the highs they bring on are the only escape they see,...despite the fact such bad habbits do allot more harm than good.

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Drugs are an easy escape for allot of people down on their luck. Am I condoning the use of drugs? Heck no! But I also see why such people resort to using street drugs. Being down on ones luck, poor, maybe living in a disfunctional houshold brought on by being poor is not exactly a healthy envionment to the human physcie. Unfortunately many people finding themselves in dire strights are simply overwhelmed by emotional stress of it. Unable or not willing to find more constructive ways to vent their emotional stress due to being stifled by being poor and without a job, drugs, smoking, drinking, and any such bad habbits and the highs they bring on are the only escape they see,...despite the fact such bad habbits do allot more harm than good.

 

I can't say that I've met people that were on drugs because of poor economic circumstances.  Most of the people that I knew/know that struggled with those kinds of addictions started in adolescence with gateway things, and then worked their way up to struggle as adults.  Their economic circumstance was a bi product of their lifestyle.  

 

The problem being experienced at temporary.names place of employment is happening across the region.   It's actually to be expected.  West Michigan has been hovering at or below 5% unemployment which is considered statistically perfect employment, meaning anyone who wants a job has a job.   The downside is that the remaining job pool tend the transient people who bounce from job to job and have lower expectations.  It was a huge problem in the 90's in West Michigan I don't know if anyone remembers how good the economy was.   The upside to it is population influx which the area is experiencing,  as long as this continues we will probably see a compound increase in population. 

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I can't say that I've met people that were on drugs because of poor economic circumstances.  Most of the people that I knew/know that struggled with those kinds of addictions started in adolescence with gateway things, and then worked their way up to struggle as adults.  Their economic circumstance was a bi product of their lifestyle.  

 

The problem being experienced at temporary.names place of employment is happening across the region.   It's actually to be expected.  West Michigan has been hovering at or below 5% unemployment which is considered statistically perfect employment, meaning anyone who wants a job has a job.   The downside is that the remaining job pool tend the transient people who bounce from job to job and have lower expectations.  It was a huge problem in the 90's in West Michigan I don't know if anyone remembers how good the economy was.   The upside to it is population influx which the area is experiencing,  as long as this continues we will probably see a compound increase in population. 

 

 

I think a lot of people struggle to get back in the workforce precisely because employers test for marijuana use, which isn't any more harmful than alcohol. I figure as long as people aren't smoking or drinking while they are AT WORK, what's the big deal? I know quite a few white collar executives and executive directors that drink to excess, yet they successfully (or some not so succesfully) function at work every day. Which is more dangerous, operating a metal stamping press while you're hung over, or keeping a company with twenty employees running with a cocaine habit?

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I think a lot of people struggle to get back in the workforce precisely because employers test for marijuana use, which isn't any more harmful than alcohol. I figure as long as people aren't smoking or drinking while they are AT WORK, what's the big deal? I know quite a few white collar executives and executive directors that drink to excess, yet they successfully (or some not so succesfully) function at work every day. Which is more dangerous, operating a metal stamping press while you're hung over, or keeping a company with twenty employees running with a cocaine habit?

 

Haha well I'd argue the metal press would be more dangerous,  because it can do immediate damage if you're distracted.  But I know what you're saying.  Testing for pot is hopefully something that will fade as times change. A lot of companies use drug testing as an excuse not to pay out workmans comp claims which I think is sinister.  But there are also legit times where people have been under the influence and it has had real consequences. 

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Haha well I'd argue the metal press would be more dangerous,  because it can do immediate damage if you're distracted.  But I know what you're saying.  Testing for pot is hopefully something that will fade as times change. A lot of companies use drug testing as an excuse not to pay out workmans comp claims which I think is sinister.  But there are also legit times where people have been under the influence and it has had real consequences. 

 

Absolutely if people are under the influence while working, that's bad. If someone goes out to their car at lunch hour and takes a few nips of Jack, and then is operating heavy machinery, god help anyone around them.

 

There used to be a small bar about 50 steps from the General Motors main assembly plant in downtown Lansing. It was packed at lunch time. I think GM bought them out and had it demolished. :)

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A local $ Billion + manufacturer.

The work mainly includes reducing the amount of drug users and infrastructure. Our systems are all dependant on internet today and paying out the nose for an ISP to lay fiber is frustrating. Also, roads...yes an ongoing concern but with almost all our product leaving by truck, it is very important for our truck fleet and customers. Our sewage system has come along way in the past decade but is still not near ideal. These fundamental things are considered when discussing spending a couple hundred million here or in, say, Pennsylvania.

 

To piggy back on the roads, Birgit Klohs recently told WOOD TV that roads are a HUGE obstacle to continued overseas investment in Michigan.  Klohs said that recently she happened to share a cab with some German's, and they were discussing (in German) how awful MI roads were, and that it's viewed as a big disadvantage.  She of course is German and understood everything they were saying.  I think the state legislature it taking the roads issue up now. 

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The Michigan Senate has already voted to greatly increase road funding by replacing the flat per-gallon tax with a percentage tax. In addition to raising a lot of money, it also will automatically adjust for inflation and gas price increases going forward.

 

This bill is larger than the bill that the House passed a few months ago (that failed in the Senate). According to someone I know who works in the House, this new Senate bill faces an uphill struggle against the anti-tax faction.

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Do you think the fact that there is no direct north/south interstate connection  in Grand Rapids hinders it as well?   Technically I-196 connects downtown GR to I-94  But US-31 isn't completed in Berrien county which would be a direct freeway connection to South Bend and now Indianapolis.  But the state has shelved any and all plans to finish those connections,  widen the freeways between GR/Musk/Holland and connect 131 to I-75 giving another direct connection to Canada.  Originally US-31 from Indianapolis thru to I-75 was supposed to be I-67.  I've heard it be said that they are not expanding because they aren't building interstates anymore which is untrue.   

 

Will the state keep the same freeway infrastructure in place from when Grand Rapids was a smaller metro?   Or will they recognized the importance of the states fastest growing economy and help it.  Also locally the GR metro area lags behind in developing it's own infrastructure.  Areas of northern Kent County as well as western Ottawa county are greatly inadequate for the areas growth.   I think it hinders those areas from organized population growth,  I have started to think it's because the residents in those areas are change averse and don't want the growth so they fight infrastructure development.

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Do you think the fact that there is no direct north/south interstate connection  in Grand Rapids hinders it as well?   Technically I-196 connects downtown GR to I-94  But US-31 isn't completed in Berrien county which would be a direct freeway connection to South Bend and now Indianapolis.  But the state has shelved any and all plans to finish those connections,  widen the freeways between GR/Musk/Holland and connect 131 to I-75 giving another direct connection to Canada.  Originally US-31 from Indianapolis thru to I-75 was supposed to be I-67.  I've heard it be said that they are not expanding because they aren't building interstates anymore which is untrue.   

 

Will the state keep the same freeway infrastructure in place from when Grand Rapids was a smaller metro?   Or will they recognized the importance of the states fastest growing economy and help it.  Also locally the GR metro area lags behind in developing it's own infrastructure.  Areas of northern Kent County as well as western Ottawa county are greatly inadequate for the areas growth.   I think it hinders those areas from organized population growth,  I have started to think it's because the residents in those areas are change averse and don't want the growth so they fight infrastructure development.

 

I think atleast finishing the connections you mentioned would provide some help. However more freeways are only one piece of the puzzle in meeting today's transit needs. The other thing is unless this gas tax proposal becomes a game changer, the state is barely able to keep up with our existing roads when it comes to their upkeep. That's why they are garbage. Adding more roads would probably exacerbate that problem in the long run. What I believe needs to happen is taking a two fold appraoch. Redo the gas tax funding for repairing existing roads as it is. However lets add in something to encourage the state along with towns and cities therein to add viable public transit options along with doing transit based developments along transit lines. Public tansit lines can move allot of people in ways more efficient than cars. That and getting people, businesses and entertainment options close to those public transit lines, there would not be a need for lots of roads to build and upkeep.

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Do you think the fact that there is no direct north/south interstate connection  in Grand Rapids hinders it as well?   Technically I-196 connects downtown GR to I-94  But US-31 isn't completed in Berrien county which would be a direct freeway connection to South Bend and now Indianapolis.  But the state has shelved any and all plans to finish those connections,  widen the freeways between GR/Musk/Holland and connect 131 to I-75 giving another direct connection to Canada.  Originally US-31 from Indianapolis thru to I-75 was supposed to be I-67.  I've heard it be said that they are not expanding because they aren't building interstates anymore which is untrue.   

 

 

As Grand Rapids is part of the Chicago nexus, there seems little direct reason for linking to Indianapolis -- the link of 131 to South Bend seems more in line with what's needed here.  Also, it is important for the region to be connected to the Grand Trunk RR line, as that goes from Halifax to New Orleans (part of the Canadian owned system). This is one of the major corridors. That suggests stronger connections to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek (perhaps extending M 37).

 

Practically, a fully developed fiber optic connection may be nearly as important as the roads, particularly if GR is an early mover.

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Do you think the fact that there is no direct north/south interstate connection  in Grand Rapids hinders it as well?   Technically I-196 connects downtown GR to I-94  But US-31 isn't completed in Berrien county which would be a direct freeway connection to South Bend and now Indianapolis.  But the state has shelved any and all plans to finish those connections,  widen the freeways between GR/Musk/Holland and connect 131 to I-75 giving another direct connection to Canada.  Originally US-31 from Indianapolis thru to I-75 was supposed to be I-67.  I've heard it be said that they are not expanding because they aren't building interstates anymore which is untrue.   

 

Will the state keep the same freeway infrastructure in place from when Grand Rapids was a smaller metro?   Or will they recognized the importance of the states fastest growing economy and help it.  Also locally the GR metro area lags behind in developing it's own infrastructure.  Areas of northern Kent County as well as western Ottawa county are greatly inadequate for the areas growth.   I think it hinders those areas from organized population growth,  I have started to think it's because the residents in those areas are change averse and don't want the growth so they fight infrastructure development.

 

 

YES, I've been saying this for years and MDOT always says its not in the budget to "fix" these unfinished stretches. Im talking about 131 south to IN, 31 finished to connect to 196 in Berrien CO and of course the most expensive piece turning it into a full expressway through Holland and Grand Haven.

 

Somehow INDIANA is getting it done, yet there gas tax is notoriously low! modernizing 31 from Indy to South Bend including turning it into a freeway through the already developed North Indy suburbs, similar to what would have to happen in Holland and Grand Haven with the new style urban interchanges. Then somehow, a completely new large I-69 is getting built in the lower half of the state (FED Money?) why can Mi get just a little to complete and connect 131 with St Joseph parkway east of Elkhart and turn it into I-67!?!

 

Its been this way for a while so people just accept it but being on a peninsula and inland I think GR has a natural off the beaten path seclusion. Also 131 being the busiest highway, yet not an interstate (as evident by the exclusion from many maps) I there are SOME business that stay away or dont consider simply because of that fact. 

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Practically, a fully developed fiber optic connection may be nearly as important as the roads, particularly if GR is an early mover.

 

This. A well-developed muni broadband system would pay many more development dividends than any road project. We all know how abysmal residential broadband service offerings are, but in many areas of the city, Comcast Business is the only viable option for business connectivity (unless you want to pay hundreds per month for a 1.5mbps T1). We've been able to coast by so far because it's this bad in most of the country; but as more communities get muni broadband, Google Fiber—hell, even FiOS—we're going to be much less competitive.

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This. A well-developed muni broadband system would pay many more development dividends than any road project. We all know how abysmal residential broadband service offerings are, but in many areas of the city, Comcast Business is the only viable option for business connectivity (unless you want to pay hundreds per month for a 1.5mbps T1). We've been able to coast by so far because it's this bad in most of the country; but as more communities get muni broadband, Google Fiber—hell, even FiOS—we're going to be much less competitive.

 

Not just businesses would benefit from fiber. Residences who heavily use the internet would benefit too. If google fiber came to GR I'd drop my Comu-cast service in favor of that in a heartbeat.

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