Grand Rapids ranks as No. 3 manufacturing ‘boomtown’ in US


Plasan North America makes survivability products for the Department of Defense and other government agencies. Courtesy The Right Place

The Rust Belt is “back.”

Following 40 years of de-industrialization, the Great Lakes states have begun to rebound with many cities seeing a rise in manufacturing.

In “The cities leading a U.S. manufacturing revival,” Joel Kotkin, a regular Forbes contributor and demographer, and co-author Michael Shires rank three Michigan metro areas at the top of the 70 largest metropolitan areas.

Grand Rapids-Wyoming ranks No. 3., Warren-Troy-Farmington ranks No. 2 and Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia holds the top spot.

“Industrial growth also provides an opportunity for emerging cities,” the post says. “Over dependence on manufacturing, as the Rust Belt experience showed, can be dangerous, and the need to diversify employment remains critical. Threats to future growth include the strong dollar, the decline in the energy sector and economic weakness abroad reducing exports.

“But factory jobs remain an important asset for many regions. They may not be the central force they once were, but these jobs seem likely to continue making a big difference in the fates of many economies, both big and small.”

Michigan recovery

With six straight years of increased sales, the auto industry has helped Michigan regain nearly 40 percent of the manufacturing jobs lost during the Great Recession.

With one-in-five workers in manufacturing, Grand Rapids-Wyoming has had a 27.9-percent rebound in industrial employment since 2009.

Warren-Troy-Farmington has seen its manufacturing employment surge 38.8 percent since 2009.

Detroit has seen a 31.3-percent rebound to 89,300 industrial jobs since 2009, including 9.8 percent last year. Detroit is also home the second-largest concentration of engineers in the nation’s 85 largest metro areas.

The Michigan markets are among the top-10 metros the post highlights in its photo gallery of “America’s New Manufacturing Boomtowns.”


Toledo ranks first among mid-size cities evaluated, with a 17.4-percent rebound in industrial jobs since 2009.

The South

The South is also home to many industrial hubs.

The Nashville area lands at no. 4, and Louisville — with nearly 14,000 Ford employees — comes in at No. 7.

The post also cites a Brookings Institute study that shows the South has the highest number of “advanced industries” employees.

“The cities leading a U.S. manufacturing revival”

1.   Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia

2.   Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills

3.   Grand Rapids-Wyoming

4.   Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

5.   Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.

6.   Oklahoma City

7.   Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.

8.   Kansas City, Mo.

9.   Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.

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