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Alcoa Howmet – Whitehall, Michigan

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

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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

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Muskegon Area First: Helping Local Businesses Flourish

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Whitehall couple nears dream of opening community brewery in their hometown by summer

Published: Friday, January 04, 2013, 7:20 AM Updated: Friday, January 04, 2013, 7:21 AM

WHITEHALL, MI – Local craft beer fans have doubled their chances of having the first Muskegon County microbrewery opening this year with a recent new business announcement from a Whitehall couple. 

Dan and Jen Hain of Whitehall have been planning a microbrewing business for three years and have decided on opening their Fetch Brewing Co. in the old State Bank building, 100 Colby St. in Whitehall.

The couple’s dreams of the craft beer business are coming together in their hometown, as work completing a roster of investors and consulting with a lawyer and accountant should allow Fetch Brewing to open in late spring or early summer.

That is the same time frame that the owners of Unruly Brewing Co. of Muskegon have plans to open in the burgeoning Russell Block Market in downtown Muskegon. Muskegon County, known as a good beer drinking community, is still awaiting its first microbrewery.

“The location has a high traffic count for a small community,” Dan Hain said of the vacant bank building in the center of Whitehall’s downtown business district. “And even in our little town, the bars and party stores sell a lot of craft beers over the big national brands. When people taste our beer, I think this business is going to do real well. I see us becoming a destination.”

One of the hurdles in the Hains’ business plan has been cleared, as the potential small business owners have a land contract to purchase the State Bank building, which has been planned for a restaurant in the past decade but no business has made the building that dates back to 1912 its home.

Hain said the couple explored other locations for Fetch Brewing Co., including in downtown Muskegon but settled on the State Bank building because it was in their hometown and minutes from their house. Hain, 45, said he and his wife have three small children.

“We want to teach our kids to be self-starters,” the Montague native said of the family’s entrepreneurial spirit. “This will put us out there on the line. It is a long-term dream.”

The Hains now need to secure a state liquor license for Fetch Brewing Co. and complete raising $200,000 in investor’s capital. Hain said he is about 70 percent toward raising the investment funds needed to open and the state license could take up to six months.

The Fetch Brewing Co. is being designed to have 65 seats in the lobby area of the old bank building, Hain said. The bank’s vault is expected to remain as a place where customers can purchase hats, shirts, glasses and other merchandise, he said. Reconstruction is expected to begin this month, he said.

Fetch Brewing Co. hopes to open with the ability to serve snacks and “hand-craft” sandwiches in addition to the locally brewed beverages. Hain said the plan is to have at least eight beers on tap at any time with a rotation of a dozen brews being offered.

A 20-year home brewing veteran, Hain said Fetch’s signature beer will be a red rye called “Lazy Eye Rye.” Fetch Brewing Co. will have a seven-barrel brewing system.

The company name comes from a nautical term – fetch – which is the path of the wind across a length of water, Hain said. It is a sailing expression that is perfect for a brewery so near White Lake, he indicated.

2006_06_1362.JPG The historic State Bank building in downtown Whitehall at 100 Colby St. as it looked in 2006 when a potential Italian restaurant owner had plans for the building.

White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce President Amy VanLoon has heard of the Fetch Brewing Co. plans and is thrilled that the new business development has progressed to the announcement stage.

“It is just awesome,” VanLoon said of the Hains’ plans. “I am thrilled for them and for our community. This will add a different element to the community. I think it will do well. Build it and they will come.”

Dan Hain, who will be the head brewer, has a degree in natural resources management and is currently working in manufacturing operations for a small company in Grand Haven. Jen Hain will provide the business and bookkeeping support for Fetch Brewing Co. A native of North Muskegon, she is in personal banking in Muskegon.

Fetch Brewing Co. hopes to be open this summer seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight with reduced hours on Sundays. Off summer season hours could be reduced to five days with the business closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“With a large swath of West Michigan’s lakeshore being devoid of a brewery, we want to open a community brewery which would help bridge that gap,” Dan Hain said. “We are confident we can find enough committed investors to make our small business dream a tasty reality and find enough local customers to keep the facility up and running for the foreseeable future.”

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Brunswick helped form Muskegon's industrial foundation; bowling headquarters continues here

 By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
on January 11, 2013 at 6:46 AM, updated January 11, 2013 at 8:17 AM

 

MUSKEGON, MI – Brunswick Bowling sits among the companies that are the titans of Muskegon’s famed industrial history.

Just as the Sealed Power Corp., Continental Motors and Central Paper Co. (most recently Sappi Fine Paper) have done in the past, the worldwide leader in bowling equipment and products is taking down its local, historic manufacturing facilities.

Brick-by-brick, the 280,000-square-foot bowling equipment manufacturing plant on the north side of Laketon Avenue at Seaway Drive is being demolished by crews from Clifford Buck Construction Co. and Melching Inc. By spring, gone will be the any vestige of the production facilities that began in 1906 when Brunswick moved its bowling and billiards manufacturing operations to Muskegon with 87 employees.

But the large office and warehouse complex on the south side of Laketon Avenue will keep Muskegon at the center of Brunswick’s bowling world. Some 175 employees remain working for the company in Muskegon, where the worldwide management, research and development, marketing and warehousing of Brunswick Bowling Products are headquartered.

Brunswick came to Muskegon in 1906 as part of the economic development in the post-Lumber Era. Community leaders at that time sought industries to replace the wealth from lumbering, which had fled West Michigan by the turn of the century.

Brunswick was lured to Muskegon, as were other historic Muskegon industrial firms, through the community’s famed Industrial Fund, which offered the company $62,000 toward the construction of a new plant for the promise of industrial jobs. One-time Muskegon lumber baron Thomas Hume was instrumental in bringing Brunswick to Muskegon.

RELATED: Century-old Brunswick bowling plant in Muskegon to be razed as land is cleared for redevelopment

Brunswick was founded by a young Swiss immigrant in Cincinnati in 1845 and quickly became a maker of billiard tables, then known as the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Co.

Today, Brunswick is a global corporation headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill., north of Chicago. Besides bowling and billiards, the company also has brands in fitness equipment, marine engines and recreational boats.

Brunswick owns equipment maker LifeFitness, 32 recreational boat brands including Lund, SeaRay and Bayliner, along with boat engine makers Mariner and Mercury. The publicly-traded corporation has $3.7 billion in annual sales and 15,350 worldwide employees.

“Over its history, Brunswick was a huge corporation here,” said Anne Dake, curator of the Muskegon Heritage Museum. “They have made billiard tables, records and even toilet seats out of Muskegon.”

Muskegon operations peaked with 2,700 workers in 1929, when the the company had 1.3 million square feet of facilities. To survive the Great Depression, the local workers began to produce radios, soda fountains, school furniture and other products.

During the World War II production era, Brunswick produced guided missiles, fuel cells and assault boats. But by 1960, the plant was basically back to bowling technology, producing the latest in automatic pinsetters.

The slide in Muskegon manufacturing during the Rust Belt years in the Upper Midwest also hit Brunswick. The company began to pull its manufacturing operations out of Muskegon in the 1980s, making pins, pinsetters and scoring equipment elsewhere – many times overseas.

The last bowling ball was made in Muskegon in 2006 as the final 110 production workers lost their jobs. Ball manufacturing was moved to Mexico, where it remains today. The pinsetting equipment is now being made in Hungary, according to Vice President of Operations Brad Gandy.

A piece of Brunswick’s Muskegon industrial history will remain here with a display in the Muskegon Heritage Museum in downtown Muskegon.

Last winter, museum volunteers were given an A2 automatic pinsetter that was produced in Muskegon in 1961. The working unit was assembled in the industrial-oriented museum and remains a working reminder of the precise craftsmanship of Muskegon workers.

“The company has been marvelous as they designed, installed and will maintain the pinsetter,” Dake said. “But we must realize that they will still have a big presence in Muskegon.”

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Water Runs Through Us: Muskegon's port more than just shipping business but also a tourist draw

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012, 6:55 AM Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012, 6:55 AM

MUSKEGON, MI – Jim Fuhlman spent more time than he’d like to admit watching
the ships on the Mart Dock from his seventh floor room in the Shoreline Inn.

BBC Elbe ship enters Muskegon Channel   

The BBC Elbe prepares to enter the Muskegon Channel around 7 am
Sept. 27. The BBC Elbe, a 469-foot German ship, was the third of seven foreign
ships carrying wind turbine parts going to the Mart Dock on Muskegon
Lake. 


Here with his wife, Sharon, the Fuhlmans were in Muskegon at the beginning of
October visiting family. There aren’t 462-foot ocean-going cargo ships unloading
huge turbine blades and tower sections back home in Cedartown, Ga. between
Atlanta and Chattanooga, Fuhlman said.

“It was intriguing,” Fuhlman said of the commercial ship operations going on
below his hotel balcony. A retired office furniture plant manager, Fuhlman said
shipping is an area of business that he really never understood but has always
drawn his attention.

“With the size of those blades, it all happened in slow motion,” he said of
watching the Amstelborg and Marlene Green dock, unload and cast off from the
Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake. “That this dock adapted from sand and gravel to
these blades is rather amazing and shows the ingenuity people have.”

The Fuhlmans didn’t come to Muskegon and stay at
the Shoreline Inn and Conference Center because of the ship activity on the Mart
Dock, but it sure enhanced their visit. Muskegon learned – and for some
relearned – the significance ship activity in its harbor can have on tourism
as seven cargo ships made their way to Muskegon this fall with the turbine
components
.


MLive and The Muskegon Chronicle is looking at tourism this week as part of the ongoing “Water Runs Through Us” series                              that explores the community’s deep, historic relationship with its water resources and what that means for the future.


The North Star Steel issue of the mid 1970s when a manufacturing plant was
rejected on the Muskegon Lake shoreline built a community consensus of keeping
industry off the waterfront. But the industrial-type activity of Great Lake
shipping is a whole different issue.

 
BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

Nikole Hanna | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Wind turbine towers are unloaded
from the BBC Elbe at the West Michigan Dock and Market Corp.’s Mart Dock in
Muskegon, on Thursday, September 27, 2012. The BBC Elbe, a 469-foot German ship,
is the third of seven foreign ships carrying wind turbine parts. 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.
BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon gallery (10 photos) 
 

  • BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

  • BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

  • BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

  • BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

  • BBC Elbe Arrives in Muskegon

Not only does shipping activity become a compatible use directly adjacent
to a waterfront destination like the Shoreline Inn with its hotel, lakefront
restaurant and marina but it actually bolsters business, according to Shoreline
Inn General Manager Doug Pollock.

The Shoreline Inn’s tremendous fall season with solid business in September,
October and now November was not caused by the surge in Mart Dock ship activity
but certainly that didn’t hurt, Pollock said. The ship arrivals not only
thrilled guests but the hotel and its restaurant was the off-hours location for
ship crews and dock workers handling the cargo, he said.

“I don’t see any hindrance being next to a commercial dock but we have
actually seen it be a positive influence on our business,” Pollock said. “You
look at what you have and align your business with it.

“We don’t want to fight it but go with it and make the most of it,” Pollock
continued. “This fall the Mart Dock got some great publicity and we got more
business. That is best for both businesses and the community.”

No community in Michigan has leveraged the public fascination with Great
Lakes commercial shipping more than Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula,
which is home to the Soo Locks. The shipping locks on the St. Mary’s River
between Michigan and Ontario Canada have been a huge tourist draw for generation
of ship lovers.

 
A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

Ken Stevens | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it The view from the bridge
aboard the 420-foot, ocean-going cargo ship, BBC Balboa that is currently docked
at the Mart Dock in Muskegon. The German ship arrived at the dock just before
daybreak Monday with a shipment 24 wind turbine blades, some of which are still
on the ship pictured below. Crews will remove the remaining blades when weather
permits them to resume work.   

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.
 

  • A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

  • A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

  • A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

  • A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

  • A tour of the German cargo ship BBC Balboa

  • Sault Ste. Marie draws 500,000 people a summer to its community because of
    the Soo Locks, Soo Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Hoath
    said. People will stand for hours on the multi-level observation deck in the
    park along Water Street watching the lake freighters move through the locks that
    connects Lakes Superior and Huron.


    “The river and the water is the reason we are here,” Hoath said of what
    defines Sault Ste. Marie much in the same way as Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan
    define Muskegon. “The Soo Locks are a big part of our brand. People are just
    fascinated by them. It is like the Big Mac Bridge. The locks are just huge for
    us.”

    Muskegon County Community Development Director Bob Lukens has been in
    Muskegon more than a year now and he is just learning the powerful hold port
    activity has on local residents and visitors alike.

    Lukens was speaking to a bus tour group as the senior women from southeast
    Michigan saw three ships moored in Muskegon Lake waiting out rough weather on
    Lake Michigan. Questions about Muskegon’s port dominated the conversation,
    Lukens said.

    “People are naturally curious of big ships, such big mechanical devices,” he
    said. “It is like building a big building and people will watch construction.
    These women were fascinated by the freighters that come through our port.”

    When combined with a flourishing recreational boating and the Lake Express
    high-speed ferry on Muskegon Lake, commercial shipping is a huge draw for those
    visiting the Muskegon area, Lukens said. Port City Princess tour boat owner
    Sylvia Precious said the port separates Muskegon from other Michigan
    communities, even those on the Great Lakes.

    “Seeing the big ships coming in is always a thrill,” said Precious, whose
    dinner excursion boat is berthed at the Mart Dock. “I like to get on my
    bandwagon and make sure that we promote ourselves as the Port City. People want
    to get onto the water and get close to these ships. It is all great for our
    business.”

    A whole culture has grown around Great Lakes
    shipping as aficionados refer to themselves as “boat nerds,” which has given
    rise to boatnerd.com where shipping fans
    can trade information, photos and ship sightings. That curiosity and fascination
    with ships eventually got Ed Hogan into the shipping business in 1977.

    “Living on the Great Lakes you look out on the water and are curious at what
    is going on out there … so few of us actually work in the business,” said Hogan
    -- the vice president of Port City Marine Services, who began as a deck hand and
    was a boat captain before going into marine operations. “People all over the
    lakes are out watching ships where they can.”

    You can count Gen and David Sterenberg as “boat nerds.” The Grand Rapids
    couple love to get on Muskegon Lake either in their sailboat or trailerable “tug
    boat” to get a better look at the ships that visit Muskegon’s port.

    “We can see them from the water and that is an advantage,” Gen Sterenberg
    said. “It is a fascination at how such large ships move across the water. It is
    a personal interest.”

    As long as there are people with a passion for shipping, Muskegon has an
    opportunity to bolster its tourism through its port activities.

    “It is a hobby watching them,” Sterenberg said of the big ships. “Some people
    go hunting; we watch boats.”

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    Cargo ship Amstelborg arrives in Muskegon The 462-foot Amstelborg cargo ship arrived in Muskegon late
    Wednesday morning, October 3, 2012 with a shipment of wind turbine blades. The
    Dutch registered and German owned and operated cargo ship was transporting 31
    wind turbine blades to the Mart Dock in downtown Muskegon. Watch video




     
       

    Forming Technologies is latest Muskegon industry to expand; company to create 21 jobs

    By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    on October 24, 2012 at 1:56 PM, updated October 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

     

    MUSKEGON, MI – The run of industrial expansions in the city of Muskegon’s Port City Industrial Park continues with Forming Technologies LLC’s plans for its growing manufacturing business.

    FormingTech.JPG Forming Technologies LLC, 1885 E. Laketon Ave. has been producing reusable parts containers in Muskegon for eight years. The company has 68 employees and expects to hire 21 more in its current expansion.

    Forming Technologies, 1885 W. Laketon Ave. received unanimous Muskegon City Commission approval Tuesday for industrial tax abatements on a $631,000 investment in buildings and equipment that is expected to create 21 additional jobs.

    Forming Technologies, an industrial packaging producer mainly for the automotive parts sector, is one of a string of industrial expansions receiving tax incentive packages from the city. Already before the city commission this year has been GE Aviation, the Port City Group and ADAC Automotive.

    “Some say manufacturing is dead … I think just the opposite is true that manufacturing is alive and well throughout Michigan and in particular Muskegon,” Muskegon City Manager Bryon Mazade said.

    “These are not necessarily large expansions but these companies are making solid investments and creating jobs,” Mazade continued. “It’s a good sign. It’s very encouraging.”

    Forming Technologies’ David Hembree told city commissioners that his company has had a 38 percent annual growth rate in an operation established in Muskegon in 2004. A new piece of equipment has brought the company new business and will lead to the hiring of 21 new employees into entry level positions, he said.

    “With this new equipment, we will be able to grow our business,” Hembree said. “It’s been great being in Muskegon. You’ve been a great neighbor.”

    Forming Technologies -- with accounting offices in Brighton, Mich. and sales operations in Mexico and Canada -- has a 40,000-square-foot building on the edge of the Port City Industrial Park with 68 current employees. Hembree said that the company is planning a building expansion for 2013.

    The current expansion includes $70,693 in real property and $561,058 in personal property investments. The city has granted the company a 50 percent industrial tax break for 12 years on the real property and nine years on the personal property.

    The tax abatements will provide the company with an annual savings of $5,663 and the city is expected to increase its annual income tax revenues $3,336 due to the increase in employment, city officials said.

    Forming Technologies is a heavy-gauge thermoformed products manufacturer. Thermoforming is the manufacturing process of using plastic sheeting in a heat-forming technique to produce products of specific shapes.

    In Forming Technologies case, the company creates material-handling products such as pallets and trays made out of heavy-duty plastic that carry various types of parts, according to the company website. The packaging containers are reusable for the parts manufacturer supplying the producer of the end products.

    The company has a large group of customers, many in the automotive parts sector. Customers include General Motors, Volkswagen, Cummings, Kubota, General Electric, Delphi, Magna Powertrain and Benteler Automotive – companies with worldwide connections and West Michigan roots.

    “We appreciate your growth and sharing your prosperity with our community,” Muskegon Mayor Steve Gawron told company officials. “Thank you for your investment.”

    Besides Forming Technologies, the city this year has seen ADAC Automotive invest $20.47 million into its Muskegon operations expecting to create 130 jobs; the Port City Group at $11.33 million with 65 jobs; and GE Aviation/Johnson Technologies at $301,000 and 24 jobs.

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    MEDC announces second year of export assistance for small businesses

    altMEDC announces second year of export assistance for small businesses

     

    Wednesday, October 17 2012

      LANSING - On the heels of Gov. Rick Snyder’s second trade mission to Asia in 12 months, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation today announced a second year of financial assistance to Michigan small and medium businesses for export-related activities through the Pure Michigan export incentive program. 

      “My recent trip to China reaffirmed that foreign countries offer new markets, distributorships and other business partnerships to Michigan companies. The Pure Michigan export incentive program helps Michigan companies tap into those markets and diversify their customer bases,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “In today’s globally interconnected world, export sales offer extraordinary opportunities for Michigan companies to grow and create new jobs.” 

      The $2.1 million in funding is from a second year of allocations to the State of Michigan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. State project award amounts vary based on the proposed project plan and budget.  

      “Through the first year of the STEP program we were able to assist many Michigan businesses with increasing their sales in foreign markets – sales that help diversify companies’ customer bases, provide longer term stability and can support higher paying jobs,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This year's STEP award, a $600,000 increase over last year, is the second largest award in the nation, reflecting the Small Business Administration's strong confidence in Michigan's successful execution of export promotion to increase international sales.” 

      The SBA STEP grant program provides direct reimbursements to qualified companies with 500 or fewer employees globally for export-related activities, ranging from foreign market research to international trade missions.  

      The program’s goal is to increase Michigan’s export sales, increase the number of new-to-export companies and introduce current exporters to new foreign markets and buyers.  

      MEDC launched the STEP pilot program in October 2011. More than 400 Michigan companies received assistance through the first year of the program, with 132 companies entering 62 new global markets. New export sales of more than $21.2 million were reported as a result of the program. 

      The MEDC’s export plan was developed through collaboration with strategic export service providers including U.S. Department of Commerce, Michigan Small Business Administration, Michigan Small Business Technology & Development Center, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University’s Center for International Business Education and Research, along with Automation Alley, Van Andel Global Trade Center, Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, and Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

      The MEDC coordinates a statewide export assistance delivery system with public and private resources to ensure company access regardless of geographic location.  

      In September, leaders from 21 Michigan companies, many of them STEP program participants, traveled to China to meet with prospective partners, distributors and buyers to increase export opportunities from Michigan to China. The MEDC, which facilitated the mission, arranged more than 100 matchmaking meetings for the participating companies. Several of the companies also met with distributors who can sell their products throughout China, further increasing Michigan exports.

      The trip occurred in tandem with Gov. Snyder’s 10-day China trade mission, where he focused on strengthening relationships and developing pathways for increasing Michigan exports to the country. 

      For complete details on how companies can apply for assistance, including eligibility requirements and the application process, please visit http://www.michiganadvantage.org/STEP/. 

      The MEDC markets the state with a focus on business, talent, jobs and helping to grow the economy. For more on MEDC and its initiatives, visit: MichiganAdvantage.org.

         

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