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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

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Alcoa investing $22 million

Alcoa investing $22 million into aerospace technology at Whitehall facility

June 02, 2015

WHITEHALL, MI – Alcoa Power and Propulsion's momentum in the aerospace industry took another giant leap on Tuesday, June 2.

Fewer than seven months after Alcoa announced a $16.7 million expansion to its facility in Whitehall, the lightweight, high-performance metals leader announced a $22 million investment in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at the location.

The Whitehall facility already serves as the global headquarters for Alcoa Power and Propulsion.

The investment will enable Alcoa to capture the growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for jet engines. The investment is expected to create approximately five new jobs at the Whitehall facility.

"As aerospace growth soars, Alcoa continues to invest in the latest technologies, creating added capacity to capture fast-growing demand," said Olivier Jarrault, executive VP and Alcoa Group president, engineered products and solutions, in a news release.

"Combined with our expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia and our growing 3D printing capabilities, this investment will give Alcoa the broadest capabilities to deliver high-quality titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world's bestselling jet engines."

According to the news release, steep ramp-up rates for narrow-and-wide body aircraft engines, the top-selling jet engines in the world, are increasing Alcoa's need for such capabilities.

HIP involves the simultaneous application of high pressure and temperatures to significantly improve the mechanical properties and quality of cast products, such as blades and structures for jet engines. All titanium, 3D-printed and some nickel parts used for jet engines must be treated using the HIP process.

Alcoa already owns and operates one of the world's largest HIP technology complexes for aerospace thanks in large part to its Whitehall facility. The company's eight HIP production systems are already located in Whitehall; the first of which was installed in 1975 shortly after Alcoa pioneered the technology in the aviation industry in 1973.

Alcoa expects the new technology to be ready for product qualification in 2016. The Company expects a global aerospace sales growth of 9 to 10 percent in 2015 driven by strong deliveries across the large commercial aircraft, regional jet and business jet segment.

Alcoa Power and Propulsion is expected to generate $2.2 billion in revenues by 2016 as a result of its organic growth expansions, according to the news release. 

Brandon Champion covers arts and entertainment, business, sports and weather for MLive 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 Twitter @BrandonThaChamp.


Muskegon, Newaygo county unemployment rates lowest since 2001

Stephen Kloosterman | 
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 </script>By Stephen Kloosterman | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
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on December 14, 2014 at 10:31 AM, updated December 14, 2014 at 10:32 AM

LANSING, MI – The last time unemployment was this low, a gallon of gas cost $1.50, and Britney Spears and 'N Sync were burning up the radio waves.

The latest batch of unemployment numbers from Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives shows the Muskegon County unemployment rate hit 5.5 percent in October 2014. According to the state's database, that's the lowest it was since October 2001, when the jobless rate touched 5.4 percent.

While the rate itself might be influenced by holiday-season hiring, it's a milestone of improvement for the local economy.

"The rate is as low as it's been in some time," said Muskegon Area First President Ed Garner. "It really does speak volumes that our economy is back on track."

October's unemployment rate of 5.5 percent is down half a percentage point from 6.1 percent in September and 8.6 percent 12 months ago, in October 2013.

Not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, Muskegon County's jobless rate of 5.5 percent is dead even with the nationally non-adjusted rate of 5.5 percent, and significantly below a statewide rate of 6.4 percent.

Among Muskegon's 83,700 workforce, 79,100 are employed and 4,600 are jobless while actively seeking employment.

"More people are finding employment opportunities," Garner said. Like other economic developers, in Michigan, he worries about a shortage of skilled labor needed by firms.

The bureau keeps record of jobs data for the Muskegon-Norton Shores statistical area, which encompasses Muskegon County. Local jobless rates come from surveys of households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and don't reflect the percentage of people applying for jobless benefits.

Newaygo County

October 2014 was similarly favorable for Newaygo County, where unemployment bottomed out at 5 percent – again, the lowest for 13 years. In October 2001, the rate was 4.7 percent.

"I don't know exactly when the recession ended," said Andy Lofgren, Executive Director of the Newaygo County Economic Development Office. But he remembers 2010 was a low point, with 12.5 percent unemployment.

"Now we're four years into this recovery, and we're starting to see its effects on the labor market," Lofgren said.

Lofgren gave credit to Newaygo County businesses for sticking with the community through the recession. Over the last 14 years, businesses have invested more than $308 million in the local economy by way of improvements to plants and equipment, he said.

The county's industrial powerhouses are Magna Mirrors in Newaygo and the Nestle-owned Gerber Products in Fremont, Lofgren said. The 2008 tax exemption creating an Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone for Gerber helped the company stay in the area, he said.

Oceana County

In Oceana County, the October 2014 labor rate was 6.2 percent, the lowest it's been since 6 percent in 2006, according to state data.


Muskegon-area butcher's ranked among nation's best

By Lynn Moore | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
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on July 15, 2014 at 8:14 AM, updated July 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP, MI -- Bacon or sausage? It's that old breakfast conundrum that John Drummond just may have found an answer for.

Michigan's bacon king has invented bacon sausage, which is just one of his wildly popular specialties.

"I can't keep it in my case," said Drummond, owner of John Drummond's Butcher Shop in Egelston Township. "It's like having bacon and sausage at the same time."

Other Drummond specialties such as asparagus cheddar brats, bacon cheese brats, jerky dip and beef sticks have won over loyal customers at his shop on Apple Avenue west of Maple Island Road. He's also a regular at the Muskegon Farmer's Market on Saturdays and the Grand Haven farmer's market on Wednesdays, saving meat lovers from having to make the trip to Egelston.

But it's his bacon that has put Drummond on the map. Bacon Scouts, whose mission is to find the best bacon in the country, has ranked Drummond 11th in the nation -- the only Michigan butcher shop in the list of the country's top 13 bacon producers. Five each are from Wisconsin and Minnesota, while Iowa and South Dakota each have one producer on the list.

Bacon Scouts has bacon ranking down to a science. It grades bacon on a scale of one to five stars in four separate categories: robust flavor, shrinkage, fat-to-meat ratio and saltiness. Drummond's bacon earned four stars for fat-to-meat ratio and three stars in the other categories.

Bacon Scouts, in its online report, likes that Drummond will slice slab bacon into customers' preferred thickness.

"We recommend this bacon as a solid alternative to big box bacon," Bacon Scouts concluded.

Drummond said the bacon is his granddad's recipe. Part of the secret to its goodness is that after the pork bellies are cured, they're smoked twice. Another  important factor is that the hogs are local, from Coopersville, and are grain-fed and hormone-free.

"We sell a lot of it," Drummond said of his bacon. "Doctors, lawyers -- they love it."

Drummond is a fourth-generation meat cutter, and worked in various meat markets. He had worked for Dana Corp. for 10 years before he decided to open his own butcher shop in 2006.

He may be a good butcher, but he's also a smart business man. He brings a frying pan with him to the new Muskegon Farmer's Market, where the smell of cooking bacon is hard to resist.

"Boy, do we sell a lot of bacon down there," Drummond said.


3 Muskegon companies included on '50 Michigan companies to watch' list



MUSKEGON, MI – Three Muskegon businesses were recently recognized as up-and-comers at a statewide ceremony held at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.

Winners.jpgFrom left: Dave Spaulding, president of Smart Vision Lights, Matt Pinter, Engineering Manager, Smart Vision Lights, Susan Pinter, Jill Batka, president of Dynamic Conveyor Corporation and Eric Ringelberg, CEO of NeXt I.T. pose with their awards at the 10thAnnual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awards Ceremony in East Lansing on May 6.

Dynamic Conveyor Corporation, Smart Vision Lights and NeXt I.T. were all included as three of the top 50 companies to watch at the 10th Annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awards Ceremony.

Dynamic Conveyor Corporation, located at 5980 Grand Haven Road, was officially formed as a corporation in 1991 by Curtis Chambers. It is now owned and operated by Chambers' daughter Jill Batka and designs conveyors specifically for food processing and packaging.

Smart Vision Lights, located at 2359 Holton Road, is a leading designer and manufacturer of high-brightness LED lights for industrial applications.

"We are very pleased to be honored with this award and recognition," said David Spaulding, president of Smart Vision Lights in a press release. "Our staff is dedicated to continuously improving our products and processes so that our customers and partners can remain successful and we can contribute to our state's continued economic growth."

NeXt I.T., located at 423 W. Norton Ave., offers computer support to a wide variety of companies including small businesses, non-profits and schools. It has four locations throughout Michigan including Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Sturgis. Its CEO is Eric Ringelberg.

Winners of the Michigan Celebrates Small Business Awards Ceremony were selected by Michigan-based judges from banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development and venture capital communities.


Jobs up, unemployment rate down for Muskegon County in March numbers


Jobs up, unemployment rate down for Muskegon County in March numbers

The Thurgood Marshall Job, Health & Resource Fair in Muskegon Heights April 29, 2014
Brother and sister, Halbert Stegall, 30, and Sontra Stegall, 27, of Muskegon work to fill out digital job applications at a job fair Tuesday, April 29 in Muskegon Heights. Muskegon County's unemployment rate has in improved to 7.9 percent in March 2014.(Stephen Kloosterman/MLive.com)










MUSKEGON, MI – Muskegon County's total number of non-farm jobs and its unemployment rate both showed improvement during the month of March.

The Muskegon-Norton Shores Metropolitan Statistical Area – which encompasses the county – had its unemployment rate drop significantly to 7.9 percent. The county also added a few hundred jobs, according to numbers for March released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

The numbers aren't adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in the jobs market. The percentage of people in the workforce who are jobless went down, despite a surge in the number of people looking for work.

In the spring, "more people get back into the job market," said Ed Garner, president of the economic development group Muskegon Area First. "I think that's what you see there." He said that people entering the workforce could include college students looking for summer jobs.

At 7.9 percent, Muskegon County's unemployment rate is down slightly from 8.3 percent the previous month, and more than a percentage point from 12 months before, in March 2013, when the rate was 9.4 percent.

The county's March rate of 7.9 percent compares to a statewide rate of 8 percent and a nationwide rate of 6.8 percent.

"In early 2014, the majority of the state's local labor markets continue to show solid over-the-year improvement," said Jason Palmer, director of Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives. 

In a survey of households, 76,600 people reported being employed – 400 more than the previous month and 2,200 more than 12 months before.

Garner said much of the job growth was likely in the hospitality industry, as tourism-related businesses wound up for the summer months. But there also have been a significant number of retail hires -- 70-80 part- and full-time employees were hired with the opening of Gordman's Department Store in Norton Shores, he said.


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