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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


Pure Michigan Export Program

Wednesday, March 27 the Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Maureen Lyon presented to a group of lakeshore business professionals regarding state assistance for businesses looking to enter or expand export operations. Follow this link for a copy of Maureen's presentation and visit MichiganAdvantage.org/STEP/ for more information on the program. 


Advanced Manufacturing Institute class graduates

 Graduation speaker: Advanced Manufacturing Institute's first class is 'the workforce we are looking for'


MUSKEGON, MI – A dozen young men graduated on Thursday, March 7, as the first class of the Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Muskegon Community College.

Area leaders and educators hope the start-up program will help prepare the area’s workforce for new industrial jobs requiring more training than similar positions in the past. 

Advanced Manufacturing Institute graduation Thursday, March 7, 2013
EnlargeEdward Beak accepts his certificate from Tom Martin at the Advanced Manufacturing Institute graduation Thursday, March 7, 2013. The institute is through a partnership with many Muskegon organizations and administered by Muskegon Community College. Photo available for sale, please contact Ken Stevens at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if interested.Advanced Manufacturing Institute graduation Thursday, March 7, 2013gallery (10 photos)

One graduation speaker, Maria Gonzalez, summed up the idea nicely: “You guys are definitely the workforce we are looking for.”

During the eight-week class, students covered a variety of topics as an introduction to advanced manufacturing. They learned things like things like reading blueprints, programming logic-controlled devices and logging quality control statistics.

“I knew a little bit about everything on there, but it helped me understand,” said graduate Brent Eskew, 33, of North Muskegon. 

He’s looking for work and he hopes the certificate from the class will help his search.

“It can’t hurt, adding a couple things to the education part of the resume,” he said.

Many businesses report a skills gap between the available workers and the jobs they need to fill. A large part of economic development work has become convincing outside businesses that they can easily hire and train workers in the area, Ed Garner of the Muskegon Area First economic development group recently said.

Gonzalez spoke at the ceremony representing office of state Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. But keeping a healthy workforce in the Muskegon area is something many area leaders are concerned about. 

For example, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a partnership between Muskegon/Oceana Michigan Works, the Employer’s Association, the city of Muskegon, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Community College and seven area companies.

Most of the students taking the class already had been hired and were sent to the training by their employers, the companies participating in the program. But Eskew and one other student, Muskegon’s Edward Beak, were referred to the program by Michigan Works. Their tuition into the program was paid by Sun Chemical.

“It feels good,” Beak said about finishing the class.

Muskegon Community College Engineering and Design Technology Department Chairman Tom Martin told the graduates that technical courses, while not considered glamorous by some guidance counselors, help land jobs to pay the bills.

“If you get a technical degree, I promise you’ll never go hungry,” he said. “I am a living testament of that.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute’s next class is scheduled to begin Sept. 9. For information on how to apply, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Institute's website.

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

First AMI class graduates Thursday, March 7

 Muskegon Area First president: First class of Advanced Manufacturing Institute graduating tomorrow is an economic development tool


MUSKEGON, MI – Economic development official Ed Garner hopes a new training program will help sell outside companies on the potential of the Muskegon-area workforce.

Ed_Garner.jpgEd Garner 

Twelve students graduate Thursday, March 7, from the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, a new program that gives students a condensed introduction to working in modern factories.

For the president of Muskegon Area First, it’s a tool for convincing outside companies they could find good employees in the area and easily train them.

“They want to know about your workforce,” he said. “Workforce development and economic development (are) becoming a little bit more hand in hand, now.”

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a partnership between Muskegon Community College, the economic development group Muskegon Area First and Michigan Works of Muskegon and Oceana counties.

Area businesses sent students to the class to be introduced into things like reading blueprints, programming logic-controlled devices and logging quality control statistics.

“This program was developed to quickly bring someone up to speed in the manufacturing environment,” said Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, director of business and industry training at Muskegon Community College. 

The program was based on the model of a similar program in Kalamazoo. The 96-hour class started meeting in January and after meeting for eight weeks has been regarded as a success by its organizers. 

A second session is scheduled to begin in early September. Garner said the program could eventually be expanded to include in-depth courses geared for specific jobs.

“There could be other training programs that could be developed under the Advanced Manufacturing Institute umbrella,” he said.

Companies paid $1,500 each to sponsor employees in the training program. Most companies sent their own new employees for the training, although Sun Chemical, sponsored two students who are looking for work through Michigan Works.

Garner said companies can do on-the-job training of employees themselves, but the class is a way for them to pool their resources. He’s not sure if there will be funding in the future to pay for job-seekers to attend the program.

“We do solicit contributions for the program,” he said. “There’s not a lot of money at the state level for training programs.” 

It's becoming harder for manufacturers to find young workers who are familiar with aspects of industrial work, Garner said.  

"Normally, you won't come out with some of these skills out of high school," he said. 

Rinsema-Sybenga said part of the problem are stricter curriculum requirements that schools have to meet.

"The trend at the K-12 level (is that) there's less room for vocational training," he said.

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

West Michigan's industrial growth was 'nicely up' in February, economist says


West Michigan's industrial growth was 'nicely up' in February, economist says

Brian Long.jpgBrian G. Long 
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – West Michigan’s industrial sector was “nicely up” during February, according to the latest survey by economist Brian Long, director of supply chain management research at Grand Valley State University.

“Both December and January were flat, but as we rolled into February, things started to pick up,” said Long, who conductsmonthly surveys of purchasing managers at West Michigan industrial companies.

“Just like last month, several large employers are very optimistic about 2013,” said Long. “As far as this month’s survey goes, all of this is good news.

Long’s index of new orders was up 16 points while his production index was up 21 points over January. His employment index was up 22 points.

“Looking at individual industrial groups, the auto parts suppliers remain positive and some are busier due to production schedules being revised upward,” Long said. While capital equipment firms were “widely mixed,” he said.

“Finally, the office furniture firms are still holding their own, but the market shows signs of topping out or stabilizing at the current levels,” Long said.

E-mail Jim Harger:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and follow him on Twitter attwitter.com/JHHarger


Muskegon County's growth in economic activity some of the best in Michigan for 2011

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MUSKEGON, MI – That good vibe some are feeling in the Muskegon-area economy of late was backed up late last week with the federal government’s release of gross domestic product numbers for metro areas.

MuskegonAerialSunrise.jpgA new day dawns on Muskegon Lake with a spectacular sunrise over Muskegon Lake and the harbor entrance. 

Real GDP change from 2010 to 2011 was a healthy 2.82 percent for Muskegon County, according to the 2011 GDP data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Muskegon County sat third among 14 metro areas in Michigan for GDP growth for 2011. Only Detroit at a 3.49 percent increase and Ottawa County at a 4.23 percent hike were higher than Muskegon County.

West Michigan was shown to be on the upswing because, along with state-leading growth in Ottawa County, the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area was fourth in the state with a 2.33 percent GDP growth.

“I think this bodes well for our community and the diversity we have in our economy,” said Ed Garner, president of Muskegon Area First, the local economic development agency. “We are seeing most sectors of our economy are up except for the defense industry.”

GDPgraph.jpgView full size 

Not all Michigan communities are doing as well in economic activity as West Michigan. Kalamazoo, Lansing, Bay City, Monroe, Battle Creek and Benton Harbor actually lost GDP in 2011. GDP is the monetary value of all goods and services produced within, in this case, the federal metropolitan statistical areas, including both public and private consumption, according to federal economic analysts.

“The growth is mixed across metro areas in Michigan and I would say that most of all, the diversity of the industry mix of the local economies is going to be a key determinant into whether or not the metro area is going to grow or see declines in real GDP,” federal economist Sharon Panek told MLive with the release of the latest statistics.

Garner said Muskegon’s economy has diversified nicely over the past few decades going from an economy relying on heavy industry to one that now shows a balance across a half dozen sectors.

Muskegon County’s economic activity equally is being generated through health care, manufacturing, leisure/hospitality, retail and business services, Garner said. In the all-important manufacturing sector, Muskegon continues to be led by metal fabrication but also has strong automotive parts, aerospace and furniture sector companies.

Construction, trade and information technology sectors grew the largest in 2011 with government showing the steepest decline, according to the federal analysis.

“We are keeping things in a balance,” Garner said. “People are becoming more optimistic about our local economy.”

Muskegon Area First has been working on a projects list of more than 20 developments in the Muskegon-area in the past few months, Garner said. Those developments range from residential projects in downtown Muskegon to industrial expansions of existing companies and new retail investments near The Lakes Mall, he said.

“Companies continue to keep adding investment, but we have not seen a ton of jobs for those projects,” Garner said.

As Muskegon’s economy has reached back to more activity prior to the Great Recession, jobs have not followed the same path.

Muskegon County’s economy was valued at $4.52 billion in 2008 as the recession took hold. The local GDP dipped to $4.3 billion in 2009 before shooting up to $4.82 billion by 2011, according to the government’s latest data.

Job creation has not been as fortunate. Muskegon County is down about 1,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession: 73,756 at the end of 2012 vs. 74,738 at the end of 2008.

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