Street Talk: Business as usual

Water work.

Michigan captured eight of the top 10 spots on Business Facilities’ 16th annual Rankings Report for 2020, including once again taking the No. 1 ranking for in the Automotive Manufacturing Strength category.

The other top 10s include: Manufacturing Employment (No. 4), FDI-Investments (No. 5), Manufacturing Output percentage of GNP (No. 3), Gross Domestic Product (No. 10), Cybersecurity (No. 9), Opportunity Zones (No. 8) and Tech Jobs (No. 9).

The report was published online July 29 and appears in the magazine’s July/August issue.

“In spite of the unprecedented challenges of the past few months, Michigan continues to focus on building an economy driven by technology, innovation and our manufacturing heritage,” said Mark Burton, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “These rankings demonstrate Michigan’s growing reputation nationally for economic resiliency and as a top state to grow and do business.”

In a reinforcement of the state’s manufacturing expertise, Michigan maintained its 2019 positions in automotive manufacturing strength, top manufacturing states/percent of workforce and top manufacturing states/employment. Michigan also added to its top 10 rankings this year in manufacturing output. The state maintained its strength in tech jobs and cybersecurity while adding new honors in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The strength of Michigan’s economic climate extended into regional areas of the state as well, with several Michigan metropolitan areas taking Top 10 honors, including Grand Rapids (Best Business Climate, No. 2), Kalamazoo (Lowest Cost of Living, No. 3) and Genesee County (Wage Growth Leaders, No. 10).

Business Facilities is a national publication that has been the leading location source for corporate site selectors and economic development professionals for more than 50 years.

Last month’s announcement from Business Facilities builds on additional recognition for Michigan’s business climate in recent months, including:

  • Jumping 19 spots in Chief Executive magazine’s “Best and Worst States to do Business” survey — the largest jump in the ranking’s history. Chief Executive pointed to Michigan’s access to industrial and technical talent as a key ingredient to the state’s success.
  • Area Development’s Silver Shovel Award for excellence in economic development and job-creating projects in the 8-12 million population category on the strength of projects including FCA’s historic $4.5 billion investment in Detroit and nearby in Macomb County, Ford Motor Company’s expansion at two of its key facilities and establishment of a new vehicle modification center in southeast Michigan, Acrisure’s relocation and expansion of its headquarters to downtown Grand Rapids and KLA’s new research and development center in Ann Arbor.

The full Business Facilities 2020 ranking is at

Hard sell

Muskegon-based Hardware Distributors Inc., founded in 1952, was a third-generation, family owned business operated by Dan Workman and his three cousins. While it still will be a family owned, one of the largest hardware wholesalers in the state no longer will be under the guidance of Workman and crew.

Eric Seifert from Left Coast Capital was able to successfully sell Hardware Distributors to Greg and Jill Lamphere. He is a sales professional and has a worked in the paper and packaging industry. She operates a family business.

Seifert said he is pleased the company will have family ownership, citing a report from the Grand Rapids-based Family Business Alliance indicating the greatest part of America’s wealth lies in family businesses.

“A special relationship exists between family owned and operated businesses. These family owned businesses provide a humanistic and supportive atmosphere because they are run by people who live and work in the local community. By connecting local opportunities, the majority of the company’s wealth stays in the local economy.”

Puzzle piece

The city of Grand Rapids has hired Bergmann, a national architecture, engineering and planning firm with offices in Grand Rapids, to conduct a feasibility study and provide design concepts for the possible relocation of city operations from 201 Market Ave. SW to the Kent County Road Commission property at 1500 Scribner Ave. NW. This is the next step in the city’s due diligence process following Grand Rapids City Commission approval in February of an option agreement for the potential purchase of the Scribner Avenue property.

According to city officials, relocating operations at 201 Market Ave. SW could help the city move closer to its redevelopment goals for the site and surrounding riverfront area.

“We look forward to partnering with Bergmann on this important project,” said Tim Burkman, city engineer. “The team at Bergmann is well-positioned to help us determine how this property could accommodate our current and future needs.”

Through its collaborative design process, Bergmann, in partnership with Granger Construction and WGI Parking Solutions, will hold in-depth stakeholder conversations, inspect existing site and building conditions, perform land-use and zoning analyses and conduct similar research. The results will be used to create a feasibility report and develop creative design solutions for accommodating the people and services that would be relocated from 201 Market to the Scribner property.

“Through our integrated planning and design experience, we know that relocating and renovating facilities of this size and scope is like solving a complex puzzle — one that our team is passionate about solving,” said Buddy Huyler, senior project manager, Bergmann. “In addition to addressing the relocation and design options for the two sites, our goal is to show the full potential of the property and surrounding environment.”

Bergmann will present the feasibility report and design concepts to the city this fall, he said.

The Bergmann team will be comprised of experts in water resources, mixed-use projects, municipal utility design and more and brings extensive experience in community-based planning, building and waterfront design to the process, he said.

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