Lakeshore Advantage tallies economic development impacts in 2021

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Courtesy Request Foods

An economic development nonprofit in 2021 supported 21 companies as they announced $259 million in private investment and the planned creation of 694 jobs in the region.

Zeeland-based Lakeshore Advantage on Thursday, Dec. 23, said it provided those assists to employers in Ottawa and Allegan counties over the past year.

“What this data shows is the resilience of our communities,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “Even amid uncertainty and change, our employers grew and flourished in our vibrant economy, and that is worth celebrating. We applaud all the companies who were able to expand this year and are pleased to be an extended member of their team to support their growth.”

The largest expansion project supported this year was Request Foods’ expansion, which includes a $205 million investment that will create 198 jobs in Holland Charter Township. The expansion will add capacity for production of frozen prepared entrees, side dishes and specialty food items.

“Request Foods is excited to continue our history of successful growth in West Michigan by investing over $200 million over the next few years in four major projects in Holland Charter Township,” said Menaka Abel, Request Foods CFO. “Our investment is expected to create up to 198 new jobs, with most of our new team members residing in Ottawa County (Holland Township).

“While we received enticing offers to expand in other states, our commitment to Michigan, coupled with our desire to ensure Holland is recognized as an area of choice to live and work, precipitated our decision to expand locally. We are grateful for the cooperation we have received from Holland Charter Township, Ottawa County and the state of Michigan officials — along with the support we have received from Lakeshore Advantage and our partners at Warner Norcross + Judd, which enabled us to bring our expansion plans to fruition.”

Another key expansion project Lakeshore Advantage supported was Harbor Steel’s new operations in Holland Charter Township. The company invested nearly $2.5 million in land and building improvements, and its growth will help ensure the region’s manufacturers have the steel components needed to produce products.

“The Holland community has been a home to Harbor Steel since 1986. The humble beginnings of a startup operation to our fifth expansion are a testament to this vibrant and dynamic marketplace,” said Stephen B. Heneveld, COO, Harbor Steel & Supply. “The business-friendly environment and the dedicated workforce has been vital to our success and longevity. Our team is genuinely excited for the future and this new chapter in our West Michigan story.”

Other key 2021 achievements for Lakeshore Advantage:

  • More than $61.6 million in additional funding from local, state and federal partner organizations to support 271 employers
  • Distributed $1.8 million in grants to small businesses
  • Engaged in a regional Industry 4.0 awareness campaign that will continue in 2022
  • Assisted 62 startup companies, helping them raise $16.6 million in investment support

“Our team and region have much to celebrate over the past challenging year. These successes would not be possible without the collaboration of our public, private and education partners,” Owens said. “We will need that partnership even more in the new year as we set the course for what is sure to be a revolutionary year ahead.”

As Lakeshore Advantage looks ahead, its three-year goal includes having West Michigan known and recognized as an Industry 4.0 leader, making it an innovation center for the startup community, and increasing a diverse and emerging workforce with strides forward in the affordability and accessibility of higher education.

Lakeshore Advantage’s full 2021 projects and achievements overview is available online.

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