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Economic Development Since 1999 Contact Us

Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan

Advanced manufacturing providing optimized solutions for improved performance, efficiency and value

Eagle Alloy

Eagle Alloy, Inc. – Part of the Eagle Group of companies - Muskegon, Michigan

Serving a diverse customer base and utilizing lean manufacturing practices; one of the premier steel foundries in the country


Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan

A commitment to environmental sustainability; keeping the health and safety of their employees, customers and communities a top priority

Culinary Institute

Muskegon Area First: Helping Local Businesses Flourish

The Culinary Institute of Michigan - Baker College's world-class caliber culinary learning environment


Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan since 1951

Leading producer of complex investment-cast turbine components for the aerospace and industrial gas turbine industries

Home » About MAF » News


Norton Shores manufacturer, Integricoat, looking to expand

Published: Monday, January 09, 2012, 10:22 AM     Updated: Monday, January 09, 2012, 10:45 AM

Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle By Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle MLive.com

A Norton Shores manufacturer could be getting a new home.

Spring Lake-based Judson Properties has received permission from the city of Norton Shores to build a 48,300 square-foot manufacturing facility at 1160 Judson. City Administrator Mark Meyers said the facility is being built for Norton Shores-based Integricoat, Inc.

Integricoat could not be reached for comment. In a 2004 story published in The Chronicle, the company was said to have produced “powder-coated metal components for the automotive and furniture industries.”

According to state records, Integricoat currently is located at 650 Airport Place in Norton Shores. Graham Howe is listed as the company's registered agent.

City officials said it's their understanding that Integricoat is moving and will cease operations at its existing plant once the new one opens. It's unclear whether the company is planning on adding employees.

Mayor Gary Nelund said he's pleased that Integricoat is choosing to build its new facility in Norton Shores.

“They needed to expand,” Nelund said. “My understanding is they needed more space.”


Muskegon-area industries lead the economic recovery that's expected to continue in 2012

Published: Saturday, December 31, 2011, 6:09 AM

Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle


Alcoa HowmetChronicle file photo


Mark Fitzgerald, 51, of New Era, works on a part for the M777 Howitzer, a marine artillery, at Alcoa Howmet Ti-Cast earlier this year. Alcoa Howmet is Muskegon County's largest industrial employer with 2,100 employees.

MUSKEGON — Even before the Great Recession rippled across the country in 2008, Muskegon County's manufacturing sector had experienced a decade of decline in tandem with the slumping automotive industry.

Now, with all signs pointing to a slow recovery stretching into 2012, advanced manufacturing is driving the local economic bus.

Go figure.

Just a few years ago, manufacturing was dead in many people's minds. Now it is the sector leading the Muskegon area out of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression.

Several key surviving companies of the recent economic downturn are now looking at double-digit growth in revenues for 2012. A number of the Muskegon-area industrial companies are in expansion mode or will be next year, local economic developers said.

However, manufacturing job growth remains modest as Muskegon County has gained back through late 2011 only 600 industrial jobs of the 2,400 lostsince the beginning of the Great Recession.

LarryHines.jpgLarry Hines

“Part of this is the normal economic cycle where the weak players fall along the way and the remaining do well in the recovery,” said Larry Hines, president and owner of the Hines Corp. — a group of six industrial companies, including Bennett Pump in Norton Shores, Johnston Boiler in Ferrysburg, Michigan Spring and Stamping in Norton Shores and Pacific Floor Care in Muskegon.

Hines said his industrial companies are projecting double-digit growth in 2012. Those projections would bring the industrial group back to revenue levels above where they were prior to the recession, Hines said.

“We're optimistic,” Hines said of 2012.

Some Muskegon-area industries didn't survive the last decade, including Sappi Fine Paper in Muskegonand Lift Tech International in Muskegon Heights— both companies more than 100 years old that ended local operations during the recession.

On the other hand, another group of local industries have recast themselves in light of new global realities. Surviving the downturn, they now are poised to take advantage of the upturn to Muskegon's benefit, said Cindy Larsen, president of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

Cindy Larsen.j.JPGCindy Larsen

“We've never abandoned manufacturing, as has been the case in other communities,” Larsen said, pointing to Muskegon's storied manufacturing history stretching back to the end of the Lumber Era at the dawn of the 20th century. “We are successful today because of a talented group of business leaders.”

Among those who have led the surviving companies are Hines, Amy Heisser and Mike Pepper at Alcoa Howmet, John Workman and Mark Fazakerley at Eagle Alloy, Dave Yacavone at GE Aviation, Bruce and John Essex at the Port City Group, Jim Teets at ADAC Plastics, Wes Eklund atFleet Engineers, John and Betsy McIntyre at Anderson Global, Scott Erdman at Erdman Machine and Steve Olsen of Northern Machine.

Larsen said these and other industrial leaders of the past decade have faced tough decisions, including pay cuts, layoffs and reorganization of staff. At the same time, they have developed innovative new products and processes and discovered new markets, she said.

“These are the superstars of our manufacturing community that have pulled us through one of the worst economic environments in our history,” Larsen said. “They provided leadership, innovation, sacrifice and perseverance. These people had the talent and skill to move their companies forward.”

ADAC AutomotiveChronicle file photo

Janice Boss works on making Honda CR-V door handles at ADAC Automotive Inc. in Muskegon. The company announced a $20 million expansion at the end of year that will create 130 new jobs in Muskegon.

One of the foundations of Muskegon County's industrial resurgence has been the strong support local employers are receiving from Muskegon Community College and Baker College of Muskegon, according to Olsen of Northern Machine, a 34-employee tooling company in Muskegon that supplies Tier II automotive parts makers along with the office furniture and aerospace sectors.

Productivity is key to industrial success, Olsen said, as companies need new workers with cutting-edge skills and the ability to retrain current workers.

“Both institutions have kept pace with our needs for employees,” Olsen said. The new challenge will be to have local high school graduates prepared to take advantage of the two colleges' training, he said.

“Manufacturing is the engine driving the economic turnaround in Michigan,” Olsen said. “The downside is that we do not need as many workers as before.”

The surge in manufacturing activity seen in the recent announcements of expansions at companies such as ADAC Plastics, Eagle Alloy and Fleet Engineers has brought more large-scale investment in buildings and equipment than large increases in jobs. Technology is reducing the number of workers needed, even as industrial output increases.

The revolution on the modern industrial shop floor, with robotics and computer-controlled equipment, is not unlike what happened in the agricultural sector at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Farm workers moved to the cities to work in factories while automation and modern farming practices increased productivity.

EdGarner.jpgEd Garner

While recent increases in manufacturing aren't always reflected in employment numbers, the spinoff effect of a healthy industrial economy can be seen in supply companies. Both Webb Chemical in Muskegon Heights and Lake Weldingin Muskegon are expanding as they serve the West Michigan manufacturing companies.

“The key driver of our local economy, even above job gains in health care, is now manufacturing,” said Ed Garner, president of Muskegon Area First, the local economic development agency. “And in many ways, it's about the comeback of the domestic auto industry. We think this will continue into 2012, with projects that we have in the loop for the coming year.”

“Re-shoring” is a termthat has replaced “outsourcing.” It refers to American companies moving production back here from China. The term is applicable in West Michigan, which has lost industrial production to Mexico and China.

Eagle Alloy President and co-owner Fazakerley said the flow of manufacturing contracts to China has ebbed and some of those industrial orders are being filled in the United States. China is not as competitive on cost as in the past. Transportation costs, product quality issues and reliability have resulted in certain products being manufactured in the U.S. again.

MarkFazakerley.jpgMark Fazakerley

Business is exploding for the Eagle Alloy steel foundry in Egleston Township, Fazakerley said. The Eagle group of companies is projecting a 25 percent increase in sales as construction continues on a 70,000-square-foot building expansion in Egleston Township. The company had a job fair in November looking for up to 100 new production workers.

Holland SAF in Muskegon, makers of truck trailer equipment, is bringing the production of casted parts back to Eagle Alloy from China, Fazakerley said.

The oil and gas exploration and metal mining industries are generating much of Eagle Alloy's new business. New customers like Caterpillar, the maker of heavy mining equipment, and John Deere, the manufacturer of agricultural machinery, are behind a lot of the new work, Fazakerley said.

“It's going to be a good year for manufacturing.”

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Young professionals make pitch for brewery in Muskegon

Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 1:37 PM 

    Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle MLive.com

MUSKEGON – A group of local young professionals are passionate about the “beer tent capital of the world” becoming home to a craft brewery or brew pub.

LoveMuskegon.jpgRiversedge PhotographyAs part of a "guerrilla marketing" campaign, 13 young professionals in swimsuits, hats and gloves were "stout" while in Lake Michigan's 38-degree temperatures last Saturday.

They love Muskegon to the point that 13 of them stripped to swimsuits and went into chilly Lake Michigan last weekend.

The goal was to grab the attention of the folks at New Belgium Brewery, who are looking at a second location for their craft-beer production. Press reports indicate the Fort Collins, Colo., craft brewer has narrowed its look for an eastern U.S. location to four sites, including Asheville, N.C., and Philadelphia.

Chances that the Muskegon group's “guerrilla marketing” campaign will be successful are slim but the idea was to generate interest in Muskegon and gather the forces that will promote the community to the outside world.

“Muskegon has so much to offer," said Jonathon Seyferth. "It's the perfect location for a brewery, with abundant fresh water and a vibrant home brewing culture.” 

The LOVE MUSKEGON photo shoot last Saturday was hatched at the recent holiday party of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. Seyferth is an economic developer for Muskegon Area First.

For years, Muskegon's festivals have proven that the community draws those who love beer. The “beer tent capital” nickname comes from events such as Parties in the Park, Shoreline Spectacular and the former Muskegon Summer Celebration.

While fun and beer have been synonymous in Muskegon for decades, no serious plans for a microbrewery or brew pub have developed.

LoveMuskegon1.jpgRiversedge PhotographyThe LOVE MUSKEGON group scurries out of Lake Michigan after the photo shoot.

“Locals have long been anticipating a quality, craft beer brewery here,” said Seyferth, co-organizer of the New Belgium marketing effort. “We know that we're late to the game in trying to get New Belgium, so we thought we needed to do something bold to get their attention.”

The group of young professionals entered the 38-degree waters of Lake Michigan in subfreezing air temperatures to get the needed photo, captured by Riversedge Photography in Muskegon. They each held a sign, collectively spelling out LOVE MUSKEGON along with a map outline of Michigan with a “heart” marking Muskegon's location.

“We love this place,” said co-organizer Jennifer Cross, owner of the downtown retail business, Continuity. “We want others to also … and to share in the pride that we have for Muskegon.”

Also helping in the Belgium Brewery effort were the owners of Revel, the Muskegon-based marketing and communications firm. Revel's Andy Maciejewski was one of the Lake Michigan waders.

“We were just getting cold for a good cause,” Maciejewski said.

The group has sent New Belgium Brewery its Lake Michigan photos to follow up a formal presentation that Seyferth provided the company on Muskegon's attributes. To generate interest and buzz in Muskegon and in Fort Collins, the group is using Facebook and Twitter in an attempt to get Muskegon's name out, Cross said.

JonathonSeyferth.jpgJonathan Seyferth

Seyferth said New Belgium has a great corporate culture and is being highly sought after by many communities. New Belgium is the third-largest craft brewery in the nation behind Boston Beer Co. and Sierra Nevada.

Founded in 1991 as a basement brewery, the company that produces the Sunshine Wheat, Fat Tire, 1554 and Blue Paddle varieties produced 700,000 barrels of beer this year with profits up 15 percent. New Belgium products are distributed in 28 states, but not Michigan.

“We haven't gotten any acknowledgment from them yet,”  Seyferth said. “Hopefully, this will draw some attention. If it's New Belgium, all the better.”

New Belgium Public Relations Director Bryan Simpson told The Chronicle that his company is pretty far along in locating a plant in the "untapped region in the Northeast." However, in the future the company will have plans to announce for Michigan.





Baker College of Muskegon attracting more out-of-state students

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 6:03 AM    
Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle By Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle


MUSKEGON — When Payton Pugh graduated high school in June 2010, she had lots of options on where to go for culinary school.

The Winchester, Va., resident was accepted at culinary schools in California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. But when it came time to seal the deal, she made a choice that at first blush seems a bit unusual: She came to Muskegon.

Pugh, 19, enrolled at Baker College's Culinary Institute of Michigan, 336 W. in downtown Muskegon, and is working toward an associate degree in culinary arts. She's expecting to graduate by next summer.

“I saw Baker, I saw where it was located, and I just sort of fell in love with it,” she said.

Pugh is part of what is turning out to be a growing demographic at Baker College of Muskegon — out-of-state students.

The number of out-state-students attending Baker has nearly tripled in the past six years, jumping from 36 in 2005 to 107 in 2011. While the students represent only 2 percent of the college's enrollment of 5,200, the trend hasn't escaped administrators.

Lee_Coggin,_J.D.JPGLee Coggin

Lee Coggin, president of Baker College of Muskegon, said he is pleased that more students are choosing Baker College. Coggin said he believes the increase reflects two things: Quality programs and affordable tuition.

The average cost of one year's tuition at Baker College of Muskegon for a full-time student is $7,500. Baker College, unlike public universities, doesn't charge out-of-state students a different tuition rate than students from Michigan.

Coggin said students are becoming more savvy about choosing where they attend college.

“Students are getting much more sophisticated about where they shop for certain programs,” Coggin said.

Baker is a private, nonprofit, Michigan-based career college with 11 campuses throughout the state.

Many of its out-of-state students are from nearby states, such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, but some have come from places such as Tennessee, Florida, New York, California and Texas.

For Pugh, the decision to come to Baker boiled down to several factors. She saw Baker's culinary program as strong, and while she loved the area's beaches, she also was attracted by the amount of snow and cold weather that Muskegon gets each year.

Out of state Baker College students
EnlargeKen Stevens | The Muskegon Chronicle Baker College student Anthony Parrott, 24, of Chicago talks with a fellow student after receiving a graded quiz that was returned to him by instructor Ken Horn during his Psychology of Disabilities class on December 7, 2011. He is one of a growing number of students attending Baker who is from out of state. (Muskegon Chronicle/Ken Stevens) Photo available for sale, please call 231-725-6368. Out of state Baker College studentsgallery (12 photos)
  • Out of state Baker College students
  • Out of state Baker College students
  • Out of state Baker College students
  • Out of state Baker College students
  • Out of state Baker College students

“I just love the cold,” she said. “I wish it would snow all the time.”

Out-of-state students are enrolled at numerous programs at Baker, but Coggin said the Culinary Institute of Michigan has been one of the school's major draws. Numbers detailing how many out-of-state students were enrolled at the Culinary Institute were not available.

Other programs attracting attention are physical therapy assistant, occupational therapy assistant and veterinary technician, administrators say.

“I think the Culinary Institute has certainly increased our national profile,” Coggin said. He said the induction of Robb White, the institute's Dean of Culinary, into the American Academy of Chefs has helped elevate the standing of the school.

Kendra Alexander, of Huntington, Ind., said she chose Baker's Culinary Institute because she was looking for a school that was less expensive than those in Indiana, and one of her friends who already was attending another Baker campus in Michigan praised the school.

“I wanted to try something out-of-state, something new,” said Alexander, a first-year student. She said she looked at other culinary schools, but “they just weren't in my price range.”

M1213OUTOFSTATE3Ken Stevens | Muskegon ChronicleServer and Baker College Culinary Institute of Michigan student Payton Pugh, 19, of Winchester, Va., takes appetizers out to customers at the Courses Restaurant located in the Culinary Institute of Michigan in downtown Muskegon. Pugh now has enrolled in Baker's Emergency Medical Technician program.

Alexander has enjoyed her time at the Culinary Institute, where she's studied baking and pastry, but she recently switched directions and enrolled in Baker's Emergency Medical Technician program.

“I don't really have an explanation for it,” she said. “I just want to do something more for people than cooking. I figure that as an EMT I can help people.”

Coggin says beefing up its marketing might have accounted for part of the increase in out-of-staters. Baker, which has 11 campuses throughout the state, now has representatives who visit high schools in Illinois and Indiana.

The college has also attempted to reach out to students using social media websites, such as Facebook, and recently purchased a full-page ad on the back of a nationally renowned culinary magazine.

“It's a pretty comprehensive strategy to get our name in front of students,” he said. “Our biggest hope is that they will come pay us a visit.”

It wasn't a certain program that lured Anthony Parrott of Chicago to Baker College of Muskegon. It was his sister, Letha.

Out of state Baker College studentsOut of state Baker College studentsPayton Pugh, 19, of Winchester, Virginia and Anthony Parrott, 24, of Chicago are a growing number of students attending Baker who are from out of state. Watch video


She was attending Baker in Muskegon, but she was homesick and thinking about leaving, he said. The Jacksonsville, Fla., school at which he was studying carpentry had closed, so Parrot, 24, said he decided to come to Baker and enrolled in the fall of 2006.

“I didn't want her to quit school,” Parrott said. “I had the ambition of rescuing her, but I also didn't have a lot going on, and I knew the importance of education.”

He decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in human services, saying he was attracted to the topic because he likes to help people through tough situations.

“It's just something that comes naturally to me,” he said. “Talking with people and helping them rationalize.”

What also made Baker a reasonable choice for Parrott, who took time off from Baker after enrolling in 2006 because of a death in his family, was its tuition. He'll graduate with a bachelor's degree this spring.

“If I had out-of-state tuition, I probably wouldn't be here,” he said. “That would definitely make a difference.”





GE Aviation gets big Southwest Airlines engine contract, airfoils made in Muskegon

John S. Hausman | Muskegon Chronicle

GE Aviationon Tuesday announced that Southwest Airlines has ordered $4.7 billion in engineswhose airfoils will be made in the Muskegon area.

The impact on local employment and production isn't yet known, but the company predicted steadily increasing production rates for many years.

GE Aviation has plants on Latimer Drive in Muskegon and Norton Center Drivein Norton Shores. It was formerly known as Johnson Technology.

Airfoils are made in the Norton Center facility, which just completed a 31,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate increased demand.

GE has won orders for 300 LEAP-1B engines and 116 CFM56-7B engines to power 208 Boeing aircraft, the company announced. Delivery of the aircraft to Southwest is scheduled to begin in 2017.

"I'm sure it will have some positive effect," Curtis Evans, GE Aviation's local human resources director, said of the contract's impact on Muskegon-area operations. With full production so many years in the future, it's impossible to predict the effect on employment, he said. P { MARGIN-BOTTOM: 0.08in }

The engines are products of CFM International, GE Aviation's 50-50 joint venture with Snecma, a French company.

The engines are highly efficient and help airlines improve fuel burn, emissions and noise, the company said.


Courtesy photoGE Aviation's LEAP engine



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