1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to footer
Economic Development Since 1999 Contact Us
Alcoa

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

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

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

News

Potential Development Option at the Port of Muskegon

Muskegon port development could mean a river barge terminal linking farmers to Gulf Coast

From: MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle

MuskegonLakeAerial.jpg
The east end of Muskegon Lake has been designated for port development and related industries by the city of Muskegon. Agricultural interests what to explore a river barge terminal in the Port of Muskegon. (Marge Beaver | Muskegon Chronicle)










MUSKEGON, MI – Development of the Port of Muskegon has been all the rage as a West Michigan economic development tool, promoted by public officials, community leaders and business owners.

But until Michigan Agri-Business Association President Jim Byrum stepped forward, all of that talk had been well ... just talk.

Byrum puts some meat on the port development bones with a specific idea for Muskegon.

The head of what he calls the “chamber of commerce of Michigan agriculture” says that Muskegon is a perfect location for a river barge terminal, connecting Michigan farm communities to Gulf Coast export opportunities through Chicago and the Mississippi River barge system.

JimByrum.jpgJim Byrum

“Muskegon on the west side of Michigan is the only deep-water port,” said Byrum, who has headed the Lansing-based trade association for the past 17 years. “In every other port, there are issues with depths and drafts. Muskegon has railroad and highway connections that are key and so much is happening here. There is so much energy with the people and development.”

Byrum said that some of his 500 members – everyone from large agricultural corporations such as Monsanto to local grain elevator operators – have been exploring a river barge terminal operation on the east end of Muskegon Lake. Muskegon officials working on port development are investigating the idea through organizations such as the Muskegon County Port Committee.

How often the Michigan farm industry would use river barges out of Muskegon to ship corn, soybeans and wheat to the Gulf Coast for export is not known, Byrum said.

“In the last 50 years, interest in moving agricultural products in our state by water has been missing,” he said, but added that the economics of water transport might provide plenty of business for a Muskegon-based river barge terminal. Right now, much of the grain shipped out of the state for export goes by rail, he said.

“That could be a game-changing switch,” Byrum said of water-based transportation. “Moving it that way might all of a sudden allow us to better compete.”

MABA also is looking at potential barge terminals on the east side of Michigan in ports such as the Saginaw River and Port Huron, Byrum said. The proposals become even more economical if outbound barges full of grain could return to Muskegon or other Michigan ports with farm products such as fertilizer, seed or equipment, he added.

Byrum and MABA were introduced to Muskegon through Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, which hosted a renewable energy seminar sponsored by MABA in late July.

Byrum said besides exploring water-based transportation, his members are interested in alternative energy and global climate change – the later which could add an additional 400,000 acres of productive farmland in Michigan in the next decades as temperatures rise.

But it is the river barge terminal concept that has Muskegon and West Michigan economic developers the most excited. Another long-discussed port development would be a container shipment terminal where cargo containers on rail or the highways would be shipped in bulk from Muskegon to Milwaukee, eliminating the need to pass through congested Chicago on the south end of Lake Michigan.

The river barge development has some Lake Michigan shipping regulatory issues through the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping.

EdGarner.jpgEd Garner

“If we can get past the federal issues, I think this is low-hanging fruit for us in developing the port,” said Ed Garner, president of Muskegon Area First, the local economic development agency. “This serves some current needs right now. The container development is probably more long term.”

GVSU energy center Director Arn Boezaart said that Muskegon and West Michigan officials are taking note of the MABA interest in Muskegon’s port.

“People see this as a highly desirable activity for port development that should be pursued,” Boezaart said. “I’d love to see a trial run using assets that are already in Muskegon.”

One company that could help move the project forward is Andrie Inc., the Muskegon-based marine transportation company, Boezaart said. Andrie Specialized President Phil Andrie said his company would be interested in exploring a limited test of the river barge connection in Muskegon.

How to exploit the agricultural and food processing industries in West Michigan for job creation and economic development is on the minds of those who have created the West Michigan Economic Partnership between Muskegon and Kent counties.

The partnership recently had a day-long seminar on developing a regional agricultural and food processing “cluster” that would be interested in Muskegon’s port, according to The Right Place’s Rick Chapla. Grand Rapids-based Right Place has joined with Muskegon Area First, Muskegon County, city of Muskegon and local governments in Kent County to form the partnership to move regional economic development projects forward.

Muskegon’s main asset in the partnership is providing water-based transportation options.

“The logistics opportunities that could result in an active port operation in Muskegon could save millions of dollars for the farmers and food processors in West Michigan,” Chapla said.

The city of Muskegon has established a port development zone on the east end of Muskegon Lake and with the likely closure of the B.C. Cobb plant in 2015 or beyond, a major Muskegon dock used to bring coal to the plant might be available, local officials have pointed out.

BrubakerClarke.jpgCathy Brubaker-Clarke

“This barge operation could be more port activity as we move forward on redeveloping the east end of the lake from the current Verplank (Trucking Co.) docks to B.C. Cobb,” said Cathy Brubaker-Clarke, the city’s planning and economic development director. “This area of the lake is privately owned but the port operators have been working together on such ideas.”

Muskegon County Commissioner Terry Sabo – who heads the county’s port development committee – said that a river barge terminal development being suggested by MABA is going to have to be a regional effort to succeed.

“Our goal all along is economic development,” Sabo said. “We have to use the natural resources that we have and this port is unique in West Michigan. We need to do anything we can to create West Michigan jobs.

“But this is going to take time; it won’t happen overnight,” Sabo continued. “We have to keep getting this message out.”

Next: A look at the federal maritime regulations for river barge traffic on Lake Michigan.

Dave Alexander covers business and local government for MLive/The Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

   

Muskegon's Smart Vision Lights continues to see growth

Lighting company continues growth thanks to strength of manufacturing industry


Written by 
Muskegon-based Smart Vision Lights makes lighting systems used in a variety of industrial equipment and processes. As the manufacturing sector has rebounded, the company has grown from five employees to 15 in the last two years, said Dave Spaulding, the company’s president. Smart Vision’s products incorporate a great deal of customer feedback, which Spaulding says has helped it succeed in a niche market. COURTESY PHOTO

Given the ongoing recovery of the manufacturing sector, one Muskegon-based company that makes lighting for industrial equipment believes its future is particularly bright.  

The six-year-old Smart Vision Lights LLC makes specialized industrial lighting systems used to illuminate products for automated inspection processes in manufacturing plants, as well as a range of other uses.

In the last two years, the company grew from five employees to 15, and Dave Spaulding, the company’s president, says there’s no expectation of slowing down that growth trajectory for the foreseeable future.

Smart Vision has come a long way from its early days in the founder’s basement and its three-year stint as a tenant of the incubator space at the Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, he said.

While working at the incubator helped the company gain traction, Spaulding said graduating from MAREC in 2010 and moving into the company’s own 12,000-square-foot facility at 2359 Holton Road north of Muskegon helped open new growth options for Smart Vision.

“It’s been great for business,” he said of the move. “It’s allowed us to really expand our business and increase our production activities. We were limited at the end of our stay in the amount we could manufacture and the number of people.”

When a company has a widget it needs to test for size or color or defects, it can use a specialized high-speed camera trained to identify deviations from product standards. Smart Vision makes the lights that help those cameras scan the products, sometimes as they go by at a rate of more than a thousand parts per minute, Spaulding said.

Smart Vision’s lighting systems are put to work in a variety of manufacturing plants, whether for automotive components, electronics or pharmaceuticals, he said. The company also worked with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a lighting system that works with a railcar scanner used to determine the origin, destination and route of the given car, he said.

“For us, automotive is huge and so are all of the tiers that go there, whether it’s plastics or metals — anything you can think of that needs inspection,” he said. “We’re in a niche market.”

Thanks to a stronger manufacturing industry and a focused effort on exports, Smart Vision expects to grow sales by 30 percent in 2013. Spaulding declined to share 2012 annual revenues for this report, but a previous MiBiz story noted the company had sales of $1.7 million in 2010.

The company also plans to launch six to 10 new products this year.

“There’s a standard set of lighting our competitors have, but we’re innovative,” Spaulding said. “We’ll listen and meet with customers and send them samples and products to try out so they can help us identify what needs to be changed.”

The company also expanded into global markets by taking advantage of programs aimed at helping grow American-made exports. Spaulding said Smart Vision works through about 70 distributorships all over the world and has been “making great strides in Europe” after help from the State Trade and Export Promotion Program (STEP) and after working with groups such as the Van Andel Global Trade Center.  

About 10 percent of Smart Vision’s sales now come from exports, Spaulding said.

“We want to build on that over the next couple of years,” he said.

Another opportunity the company wants to market is its recent investment in laboratory equipment it purchased to test for compliance with eye and skin safety requirements that are already in place for LED systems in the European Union and “coming to the States as well,” Spaulding said.

The EU’s photobiological safety standards require product manufacturers to evaluate the side effects of exposure to industrial equipment with LED systems over an eight-hour workday.

Smart Vision plans to open up its test lab for a fee to other manufacturers working with LED systems, Spaulding said.

That specialized gear and other laboratory equipment led to the company reconnecting with another former MAREC tenant, Logical Lighting LLC, which works with energy efficient lighting and automated controls.

Because the two companies share some synergies and do not compete, Spaulding said it made sense to offer Logical Lighting the ability to use some of its equipment during off times.

- See more at: http://mibiz.com/news/energy/item/20859-lighting-company-continues-growth-thanks-to-strength-of-manufacturing-industry#sthash.I9XSXd0l.dpuf
   

SAF-Holland Aluminum fifth wheels available

FROM: Truck News 

DAILY NEWS Aug 7, 2013 12:02 PM - 0 comments

Aluminum fifth wheel now available from all Class 8 OEMs

TEXT SIZE bigger text smaller text

2013-08-07


MUSKEGON, Mich. -- SAF-Holland has announced its FWAL aluminum fifth wheel is now available for factory installation with all Class 8 OEMs.

The fifth wheel is approved for on-highway applications and is touted as the world’s lightest weight and only aluminum standard-duty fifth wheel.

The FWAL reduces weight by up to 100 lbs, according to the company. It features LowLube technology, including a grease-free top plate surface.

Link to Original Article 

   

Gov. Snyder Talks Port of Muskegon

Gov. Rick Snyder speaks in Muskegon about port development, Detroit's bankruptcy and manufacturing's comeback

MUSKEGON, MI – Muskegon County has placed a lot of its economic development eggs in the Port of Muskegon basket.

The community seems to have Gov. Rick Snyder on board when it comes to the importance of the port in future job creation in the Muskegon area.

The governor was in Muskegon Wednesday, July 24, for a dedication of the ADAC Automotive’s new paint facility in the Port City Industrial Park. He spoke to MLive and The Muskegon Chronicle on several issues including port development, the Detroit bankruptcy situation and Michigan’s manufacturing comeback.

Snyder said the state began to help port communities with low-water issues this spring with an emergency grant program for dredging and will need to follow up on regulatory issues involving ballast water.

GovSnyder.JPGMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder spoke at the dedication of the new ADAC Automotive paint facility in Muskegon.

“We have several ports that are very good opportunities for future growth,” Snyder said after the ADAC event.

“The first step was to do the emergency dredging and I was pleased to get that done in a number of ports around Michigan,” Synder said of funds that are helping dredge several areas of Muskegon Lake. “But if you look at Muskegon longterm, and there are several others, I think there is good economic opportunity.”

Ballast water is an environmental issue for the Great Lakes as ocean-going vessels can introduce invasive species from other parts of the world into the lakes. Such foreign elements as zebra and quagga mussels have the potential for major disruption of the Great Lakes eco-system, scientists have warned.

Michigan has more stringent ballast-water regulations for foreign ships entering the state’s Great Lakes than Canada and other Great Lakes states. Regulatory issues might keep certain ships out of Michigan ports, those in the shipping industry have said.

“One of the things that will hopefully help is to get (the ballast water issue) resolved in the next couple of years in terms of getting one common standard so Michigan ports can be on a more level playing field,” the governor said. “We are doing the right things by the environment but we need to get to a better answer for all of the Great Lakes on that topic.”

The governor also discussed the Detroit bankruptcy and other issues:

Detroit bankruptcy: “It is an opportunity for a fresh start in Detroit. Detroit was going to continue to go downhill. This is our opportunity to stabilize city services, improve city services and deal with the debt question. Detroit otherwise is poised for exciting growth. With exciting things going on in the private sector and the foundation community, you are going to see Detroit comeback …

“The economy is coming back all across Michigan. The issue in Detroit is the crushing debt load and the inability to deliver the services the citizens deserve. This is an opportunity to stabilize that and correct that. You will see good growth in the city of Detroit. Because Southeast Michigan, West Michigan and Northern Michigan are doing well, we are the comeback state … let’s just keep it going.”

How the Detroit bankruptcy could affect communities like Muskegon: “It should not make a major difference. As a practical matter, each jurisdiction will stand on its own. There is a lot of speculation on this topic. It did not make a major impact on other communities where it happened and a community has gone into Chapter 9.”

Michigan’s manufacturing comeback: “Michigan is the best in the world at making things. That is the legacy we have had for the last century or so and we are coming back strong in manufacturing. We are the number one state to add jobs in manufacturing in the past few years. It is because we have all the right elements. We have the talented people; we have the educational resources for additional training; and we have that culture of making the world’s best products.”

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Facebook: Dave Alexander

   

Made in Michigan (Muskegon)

 MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- The products made by a lakeshore plastic manufacturer are sold around the world.

There are hundreds of Port-A-Johns at Heritage Landing for the Coast West Music Festival and all of them were made in Muskegon at KL Industries.

But the company's product lines are much broader than Port-A-Johns. 140 employees at the company take plastic pellets and turns transform them into fishing boats; dinghies, canoes, pedal boats, kayaks, and now stand up paddleboards.

KL Industries started in 1982. Its products are sold under the name Sundolphin and can be found at major retail chains and on the web.

**For video from the story, follow this link - http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/260394/315/Made-in-Michigan-Plastic-maker-KL-Industries 

   

Page 15 of 29