1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to footer
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


An improving job market in Muskegon County

 State analyst: Muskegon County unemployment rate improved to 8.4 percent for March

Unemployment Benefits.JPGIn this 2010 file photo, a job applicant receives advice on his resume while attending a job fair.

MUSKEGON, MI – Muskegon County’s unemployment rate took a turn for the better in March while the area has steadily added jobs over the last 12 months, according to a state analyst.

The Muskegon County unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent in March, improved from 9.2 percent in February and 9 percent in January, according to the state’s Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives. It’s also an improvement from 12 months ago in March 2012, when the rate was 9.6 percent.

The bureau’s figures for the Muskegon Metropolitan Statistical Area – which encompasses Muskegon County – also showed the total number of non-agricultural jobs in the area increased by 300 from February to March.

The numbers are not adjusted for seasonal labor, so they are expected to jump in the spring when warmer weather allows people to begin work in areas like construction, tourism or agriculture. But Jim Rhein, a state labor market analyst for the state, said March’s increases outpace any statistical fluctuations.

Long-term the picture is good, too: Over the course of the last 12 months, the area added about 1,500 jobs in several areas.

“We have got seven or eight industry sectors all pointing in the same direction and that’s something you can feel positive about,” Rhein said. 

The only industry sector that showed a decrease in employment was the government, which decreased by 200 jobs over the last 12 months.

“As a whole, it looks fairly favorable,” Rhein said.

Muskegon city also saw an improvement, with its jobless rate dropping to 10.9 percent, down from 11.9 percent in February and 11.7 percent in January. A year ago in March 2012 the city’s unemployment rate was 12.4 percent.

Muskegon County’s unemployment rate of 8.4 percent and the city’s rate of 10.9 percent compare to a statewide rate of 8.8 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate for March is 7.6 percent.

Local jobless rates come from surveys of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The jobs numbers are based on a separate bureau survey of the area's employers.

-- Email Stephen Kloosterman, like him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter.

Talking Muskegon's Blue Economy

 Milwaukee has lessons for Muskegon in developing the 'blue economy,' chamber members told


MUSKEGON, MI – Muskegon’s big Wisconsin "neighbor across Lake Michigan" has taught the community something about waterfront festivals and, based on a presentation Friday, there are potentially more lessons to be learned in Milwaukee.

MuskegonLakeAerial.jpgOne of Muskegon County's greatest assets is Muskegon Lake, one of a few ports in Michigan to support recreational boating, commercial shipping and ferry transportation activities.

Just as Milwaukee’s Summerfest was a model for what Muskegon has created in a series of festivals over the years at Heritage Landing, Wisconsin’s leading community has plenty to teach on branding a community in the “blue economy.”

Instead of just being a beer production capital and home to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Milwaukee in the past decade has created an economic strategy based on its location on Lake Michigan and its freshwater resources, according to John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center in Ann Arbor.

Austin was part of a presentation of the “blue economy” – an economic development strategy based on water resources – at Friday’s Business for Breakfast event of the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce at the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor. Austin spoke along with Al Steinman, director of Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon, and Jonathan Seyferth, an economic developer with Muskegon Area First.

Milwaukee specifically decided to “brand” its water a decade ago. The community used a three-prong approach: Bolstering its water-based businesses, cleaning up and providing access to its urban riverfront and developing water research through its universities, Austin said.

Muskegon is headed down the road Milwaukee has blazed, Seyferth said. It began with the operation of the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System in 1973 and the decades-long redevelopment and restoration of the Muskegon Lake shoreline. Since 2001, Muskegon has been home to the GVSU water institute, which now employs more than 50, generates $3 million in direct spending locally and is expanding with a new field research station now under construction.


“We were both ‘green’ and ‘blue’ before that was cool,” Seyferth said.

The chamber breakfast audience was told about how water-based innovations are being turned into products. Austin pointed to Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids developing a bio-sand water filter for emerging countries. A GVSU scientist is working on a product that would be used closer to home, Steinman said.

Professor Ryan Thum has done research on genetic testing of invasive plants and came up with a test kit that can be used by lakefront property owners, Steinman said. The kit, which is in the commercialization process, allows property owners to be able to differentiate between native and invasive plants and what kinds of herbicides will remove the unwanted plants, he said.

Muskegon has water assets for all kinds of business opportunities, Seyferth said. Muskegon Area First and other community agencies are working on a marketing campaign to let others know what Muskegon has to offer from its port potential on Muskegon Lake to its public water and wastewater capabilities.

Muskegon County’s four water systems – Montague, Whitehall, Muskegon and Muskegon Heights – have 72 million gallons a day of capacity but right now only 15.5 million gallons a day are being used, according to Seyferth. Likewise, the county’s wastewater plant – an innovative land-based treatment system – has a 43 million gallon a day capacity but only 13 million gallons a day is currently being treated.

“The blue economy comes from the fact that water is part of our identity in this state and in this community,” Steinman said.

How Muskegon begins to tell that “blue economy” story starts Monday night at a community gathering at Watermark 920 Center, 920 Washington Ave. Those working on restoration of Muskegon Lake habitat have a grant to provide “perception research” that will lead to developing the community’s “story.”

That community branding process will begin at 5:30 p.m. The discussion with a community branding consultant from Nashville, Tenn. is open to the public.

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

Facebook: Dave Alexander


Port of Muskegon Discussed on WGVU

 MAF's Jonathan Seyferth discussed the Port of Muskegon with Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show earlier this week. You can listen to an archive of the show by clicking here


HOT JOBS Spring/Summer 2013

Several times per year the Michigan Works! Muskegon-Oceana office, in partnership with Muskegon Area First and others, publishes a Hot Jobs list for West Michigan. The list is complied using information from a variety of sources with the primary source being Burning Glass, a service which provides real-time local labor market information. This information paired with Michigan Works! own research and experience gives an accurate snapshot for our area. Local employers are also sampled to verify the information and provide any additional insights into the data.

Click here to check out the Spring/Summer 2013 Hot Jobs list.


Muskegon Market Report, March 2013

The March 2013 Muskegon Market Report is out!


  • Institutional investments totaling more than $156 million - including Mercy Health Partner's announcement of a $97 million expansion of their Mercy campus at Sherman Ave. and US-31.
  • Real estate development professional, Renee Webster took on the role of Interim Director for Downtown Muskegon Now, the organization that markets visiting and investing in downtown Muskegon.

  • The First Advanced Manufacturing Institute class graduates.

  • Updated community employment statistics.

Page 17 of 29