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West Michigan/Grand Rapids Economy


GRDadof3

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So then how do we get the word out that contractors and other trades that come with them are in serious demand here?  

Do you think Nationally people still see the "Michigan" attached to Grand Rapids and just assume that there is less opportunity in the area?

 

It sounds like Grand Rapids needs workers at all levels to move to the region.  So I wonder just how fast the population is actually increasing.  Clearly there is a demand and people are moving here.   The past few months have seen housing development projects especially within the city announced at a rate of 200-500 new units  a month. Does Pulte not re-enter the market because they don't have the labor resources to build large scale developments? Or is Metro GR simply just not considered favorable for the big time home builders? 

 

Would it serve the regional development think tanks like Right Place to put out some kind of advertising campaign about the need for labor?   I assume it hasn't hit a point where it's so critical that we are losing new opportunities because there's no labor pool left.   The good news seems to come daily.

 

 

Hello West Michigan has a campaign going in several cities like Chicago trying to get people to come back who used to live here before. Not sure if anyone is marketing anywhere else. The Manufacturers Council at The Right Place meets quarterly or so and is working on long-term strategies to meet demand.

 

I mean, if people will move out the North Dakota to take fracking and mining jobs by the tens of thousands, then it seems like if word gets out that the employment market is growing here, word will travel. The quality of life is leaps and bounds better here.

 

Problem is a lot of construction laborers moved to Texas and they're growing pretty fast, faster than we are. Hard to get those (outdoor workers predominantly) back to the cold white North.

 

A lot of people in different circles are saying that the mantra that every child has to get a 4 year degree needs to change, particularly at high schools guidance counselor offices. Only about 30% of the metro population has a 4 year degree, and those people are fully employed. But most of the job shortages just require technical skills, associates degrees, and apprenticeships in skilled trades. But a lot of high schoolers have been told that it's a dead end road going in that direction. Now it's coming back to haunt us.

 

Obama's plan to guarantee a two-year degree to every high schooler is actually a brilliant idea. Maybe one of the best in the last half century. How to pay for it is a big question mark, but as more and more companies pull their production back here to the U.S., it's badly needed.

 

That's my take anyway. :)

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Watch Texas.  Thousands of cutbacks in oil related jobs announced this week.  Continued low prices could/will put a dent in the housing industry there, sufficient to get at least those who left Michigan to consider coming back.   

That's not going to happen in any significant way whatsoever.  The best chance for a reverse in migration patterns is for global warming to continue for a few more decades and water supplies in the Southwest dwindle. 

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  • 2 months later...

Two big pieces of economic news yesterday: the potential buyout/merger of Perrigo by Mylan. Since Perrigo already moved its headquarters to Ireland a few years ago, I hope that it doesn't spell trouble for Allegan production, if the deal goes through and the new company consolidates.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/business/dealbook/mylan-offers-to-acquire-perrigo-for-29-billion.html?_r=0

 

The other was Plasan Composites, a defense contractor and automotive supplier that has been growing rapidly lately, has announced they're moving their headquarters to West Michigan from Vermont.

 

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/04/defense_contractor_moving_to_w.html

 

http://mibiz.com/item/21821-plasan-prepares-for-growth-in-west-michigan-as-automotive-demand-for-carbon-fiber-grows

 

 

In other news, the February unemployment rate dropped again to continue its positive trend, to 3.9% (from 6.1% in February 2014). 

 

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LAUMT262434000000003?data_tool=XGtable

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  • 4 weeks later...

2014 Census estimates are out for Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Grand Rapids - Wyoming grew by 10,456 last year and 38,765 since 2010.

 

It also was the third year in a row that the Net Domestic Migration was in positive territory (more people who lived in a different MSA moved here than people here moved away). 

 

Population is now estimated at 1,027,703 for 2014 (growing as we speak).

 

http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

 

http://recenter.tamu.edu/data/pop/popm/cbsa24340.asp

 

*Not sure when city estimates come out but should be in May some time. 

 

Seems like this mini boom kind of snuck up on everyone. 

 

We're in the middle of this pack now:

 

17179434840_8403ae83d1_b.jpg

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I believe that estimated growth rate already surpasses the amount of residents gained from 2000-2010.   It feels like the 1990's have returned.

 

 

Well it went from 930,000 to 988,000 in that period of 2000 - 2010, or about 68,000 residents. From 2000 - 2014 it grew by 39,000, so yes the growth rate percentage has nearly doubled. If it stays at that rate, we'll be looking at 1,100,000 residents in the MSA by the end of this decade, which is not that far off.

 

I think it may actually accelerate to 1990's growth rates of 1.5%+ per year, which will make it surpass 1.2 Million residents, if the jobs market continues to grow. I can see us surpassing Buffalo, Rochester, Birmingham and even Hartford CT by 2020. 

 

We'll never catch Raleigh or Salt Lake City or Jacksonville. Maybe Milwaukee in 30 years. 

 

It's interesting to see Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Cleveland continue to lose people from the metro areas. How do you lose people from your metro area? Even Detroit's MSA is growing slowly. 

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

 

 

Also impressed with Indianapolis, Columbus, and Minneapolis growth as 'northern' cities. 

 

What's with Des Moines?  Did they remap the area for such a lofty increase?

 

All have very diversified economies. 

 

Not all NC metro areas are doing well. Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville and Fayetteville are growing moderately. Better than a lot of Michigan MSA's but certainly not booming like Raleigh and Charlotte. 

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2014 Census estimates are out for Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Grand Rapids - Wyoming grew by 10,456 last year and 38,765 since 2010.

 

It also was the third year in a row that the Net Domestic Migration was in positive territory (more people who lived in a different MSA moved here than people here moved away). 

 

Population is now estimated at 1,027,703 for 2014 (growing as we speak).

 

http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

 

http://recenter.tamu.edu/data/pop/popm/cbsa24340.asp

 

*Not sure when city estimates come out but should be in May some time. 

 

Seems like this mini boom kind of snuck up on everyone. 

 

We're in the middle of this pack now:

 

17179434840_8403ae83d1_b.jpg

 

 

It's really fascinating. Upon further research, Rochester New York and Grand Rapids are like identical twins separated at birth:

 

Both are close to a Great Lake

Both are similar sized: city population of about 200,000, metro population of just over 1 Million

Both have rivers running through their downtowns similarly sized

Both have a grocery chain as a major employer (Wegman's vs Meijer)

Both have a healthcare organization as their largest employer (UR vs Spectrum)

Both were founded about the same time 1826 vs 1817

Both get about 70 - 90 inches of snow each year and have about 160 days of sunshine

Both are close to touristy areas (Finger Lakes vs the Lakeshore, SW and NW Michigan)

Both are within a few hours of their state's largest cities: Detroit vs NYC (you could also throw Chicago in there as a big influence)

Both have a lot of manufacturing (Big 3 furniture vs Eastman Kodak and Xerox)

Both have similar sized airports, about 2.3 Million passengers

Both have second tier universities that are major employers

They even both have an AHL hockey arena without a complete bowl, Blue Cross Arena and VAA. I am not making this stuff up.

 

The differences are the economies though. Rochester's labor force is down about 60,000 from its peak back in the 90's. We're up about 25,000 in labor force from our previous peak. Our employment has come roaring back from the recession, their's is actually getting worse. 

 

Also, if you do a google image search for something like "Downtown Condos", look at the strides GR has made in this area vs Rochester:

 

Downtown Rochester New York condos

Downtown Grand Rapids condos

 

Is Grand Rapids just doing a better job of seeming more vibrant? Or is it just more vibrant? We certainly have better photographers here. :) 

 

Check it out for yourself:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochester,_New_York

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Well I think the biggest factor in that comparison is that Rochester peaked in population in 1950 like so many other industrial cities.  Grand Rapids has been a little up and down over the decades, but this comparison really only works in the past 10-15 years or so.   In 1950 Rochester's population was almost double that of Grand Rapids.   To me that answers the question of vibrancy.   GR has been on the rise, where Rochester has been battling decline. 

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Well I think the biggest factor in that comparison is that Rochester peaked in population in 1950 like so many other industrial cities.  Grand Rapids has been a little up and down over the decades, but this comparison really only works in the past 10-15 years or so.   In 1950 Rochester's population was almost double that of Grand Rapids.   To me that answers the question of vibrancy.   GR has been on the rise, where Rochester has been battling decline. 

 

I know, but the cities are so similar, that it's interesting that one declined and one did not over the last 20 years. What's the magic formula? (or is there one?). I would say that having Xerox and Kodak as two of your largest employers certainly doesn't help, but Steelcase also used to be one the largest here and is a fraction of its size that it was back in the 90's. 

 

What makes for a vibrant growing metro area and what does not? It's not always good weather (Tucson is not growing as fast as GR) as the media would portray. 

 

Does Grand Rapids have some kind of "emergence" theory going on? That a lot of other cities this size do not?

 

If you were given the task of taking a group of visitors from Rochester on a bus tour around the city of GR to show off the "most exciting and/or interesting" parts of the city, where growth is happening, you'd really have a hard time coming up with a tour that didn't last all day long. If you included the lakeshore it'd have to be a 2 day tour. :)

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One of their major streets is also Monroe.

They also have a nicer bridge.

 

They also have ONE Frank Lloyd Wright home that is a museum of sorts. 

 

Also, check out their street grid. It's almost as if two distinct downtowns are coming together (like GR):

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Rochester,+NY/@43.1575475,-77.6043148,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x89d6b3059614b353:0x5a001ffc4125e61e

 

Oh look at that, a Flatiron building:

 

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Rochester,+NY/@43.157572,-77.604313,3a,75y,90.23h,89.64t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sce5whQoVQCq7eec9qrkbgw!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89d6b3059614b353:0x5a001ffc4125e61e!6m1!1e1

 

 

Weird......

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There are a lot of similarities to both cities, but Rochester was a city of the 20th century, hopefully Grand Rapids will be a city of the 21st century.  Like was mentioned, the city of Rochester was nearly twice the size of Grand Rapids in the mid 20th century, and thus had/has a larger downtown, with taller buildings, and more commerce and culture. Fortune 500 companies like Kodak and Xerox brought lots of high paying jobs, both white collar and blue collar making for a very strong and stable city.  The demise of Kodak has been disastrous for Rochester.

 

While Grand Rapids was a strong and stable city in the 20th Century, I think the city is better positioned moving forward.  It's diverse economy, and can do - collaborative spirit, is a huge advantage moving forward.  

 

I even hear that Tesla is now in town.  Apparently the just purchased Riviera Tool in Cascade. 

 

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2015/05/07/tesla-acquires-michigan-based-auto-supplier/70931142/

 

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/05/tesla_acquisition_revives_west.html#incart_river

Edited by mpchicago
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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

Edited by RegalTDP
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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

 

 

It is interesting. It would make a great case study, because frankly, if you compare the GR area to many other cities of its size, and to the State of Michigan, we shouldn't be doing as well as we are. We've lost some major employment (Steelcase for instance), the weather is basically not great, we have a heavy manufacturing base. 

 

But other than major investments from the Amway family downtown, which certainly helps, the growth in most of the city is organic "from the ground up." 

 

I do think we are poised well for the 21st Century, and really haven't even seen anything yet. 

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Well, to start, we should factor in the Erie Canal, which was a major waterway from the 1820s to the 1950s.  Though the cities are the same age, Rochester's population boomed to 36,000 in 1850 (a major city back then) while GR was still around 2600.  Though inner-city populations peaked in 1950, Buffalo used to be a major port and a center of cultural influence prior to that, and the Buffalo-Rochester relationship was probably similar to, say, Dallas and Fort Worth today.  That all changed when the Seaway opened, which was like a one-two punch when combined with the suburbanization going on at the same time.  Rochester's biggest bright spot is that at least it's not Buffalo.

 

But none of that explains what's happening in GR these days.  It's an interesting question!  Something to ponder...

As an avid Buffalo Sabres fan, i travel to Buffalo to take in games every so often. The city of Buffalo is also slowly turning itself around. They have begun to build around the arena as well as the old Erie Canal. They've dredged part of it up for skating and such during the winter.

 

Plus, that hockey team is going to a threat to the eastern conference really soon.

  • Like 1
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Not sure if this was posted elsewhere but it's interesting that Tesla is supposedly interested in the area:

http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/06/tesla-motors-acquisition-riviera-tool-grand-rapids/70916758/

 

Yes, see post 79  ;)  This certainly could be very good news.  It would be nice to see an expansion project of their operations here.

Edited by mpchicago
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  • GRDadof3 changed the title to West Michigan/Grand Rapids Economy

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