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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 » News


Muskegon County jobs picture to brighten in 2012, Upjohn Institute predicts

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 7:31 AM     Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 11:17 AM

Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle The Muskegon Chronicle
erickcek.jpgGeorge Erickcek

The annual Ecomomic Outlook for Muskegon County from Upjohn economist George Erickcek shows overall a 1.3 percent increase in employment this year. Erickcek's annual economic forecast was presented to a packed Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce Business for Breakfast event Friday at the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor.

The Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Institute analysis shows the 2012 job growth should come from the goods-producing sector, which should have an employment increase of 2.7 percent. The service sector also should see a 1.5 percent gain in jobs.

But it is the government sector that should continue to loss employment with a 1.7 percent decline this year, Erickcek said. State and local governments have been hurt by declining revenues since the 2008 beginning of the Great Recession and have cut staff.

Muskegon County's flat job picture in 2011 was a tale of two sectors. The goods-producing sector was up a solid 3.4 percent in employment, while the goverment sector declined 3.2 percent. Services was also down but only a modest 0.5 percent.

The Upjohn forecast for 2013 is less robust than this year. An overall 0.9 percent increase in jobs forcasted for 2013 is a combination of a 0.4 percent increase in goods-producing and a 1.4 percent in services but still a 1.6 percent decline in government jobs, Erickcek said.

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A new L3: Historic Muskegon manufacturer becoming a leader in wind energy

Published: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 8:09 AM     Updated: Saturday, January 21, 2012, 10:23 AM

Dave Alexander | 
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By Dave Alexander | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it MLive.com

MUSKEGON — L3 Combat Propulsion Systems' move into utility-scale wind turbines would put its magnet-motor technology on steroids.

GamesaWindTurbine.JPGContributedA Gamesa is a Spanish wind turbine manufacturer and wind farm developer that has joined the Michigan Wind Energy Consortium. The company is investigating a commercial wind farm at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.

But before any wind energy equipment is produced in the company's Getty Street plant that is the historic home of Continental Motors, L3 has joined a Michigan Wind Energy Consortium to develop the industry in the state.

The group was co-founded by L3 and Rockford Berge in Grand Rapids — the wind energy logistics, construction and operations company between Rockford Construction and Spanish-based Berge. The consortium is investigating the development of a Michigan Energy and Technology Center on Muskegon Lake.

The electric generator needed for a wind turbine would be a huge piece of equipment compared to L3's development of small electric motors that are part of its new GreenTaxi system. The electric-motor taxiing system for jetliners, along with wind turbines, are new commercial products that could complement L3's historic military production.

L3's operations in Muskegon are accustomed to producing large equipment through its production of engines, transmissions and suspensions for tanks and military vehicles.

L3 Magnet-Motor — a German-based research and development company L3 acquired in 2006 — has been exploring wind turbines for its advanced magnet technology for some time. The magnetic direct-drive generators could be produced in Muskegon, L3 Combat Propulsion President Michael Soimar said.

“Magnet-Motor is a pioneer in direct-drive turbines, and we'd like to promote that business in the United States,” Soimar said. “It is tough to convince some people to go in that direction as there is such a debate on the wind issue.”

But direct-drive technology would eliminate the need for the turbine gear boxes, which have leaked oil and been the cause of fires, Soimar said. L3 Magnet-Motor would be looking for a turbine manufacturer as a partner on a direct-drive unit, he said.

While L3 was exploring developments in the wind turbine industry, wind energy burst on to the scene in West Michigan with a controversial plan for wind farms on Lake Michigan and a land-based development at the Muskegon County Wastewater Management System.

All of the wind development activity led to the Michigan Wind Energy Consortium, which is being co-chaired by L3 Marketing Director Philip Chizek and Rockford Berge's Bruce Thompson.

The consortium's concept for a Muskegon-based Michigan Energy and Technology Center was announced in November. Besides L3 and Rockford Berge, the consortium includes Consumers Energy, Energetx Composites, Verplank Trucking, Sand Products Corp. and Gamesa — the Spanish turbine manufacturer and wind farm developer investigating a project at the county wastewater site.

Joining what has become a private-public wind development effort in Muskegon has been the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and local economic development agencies Muskegon Area First and The Right Place in Grand Rapids. The city of Muskegon and Muskegon County officials have joined the discussions, Chizek said.

“Alternative energy has a bright future in Muskegon with research and development, manufacturing and port activities,” said Cathy Brubaker-Clarke, economic development and planning director for the city of Muskegon. “We want to be partners with these companies.”

The consortium has divided into eight working groups to tackle various issues surrounding the Michigan Energy and Technology Center such as attracting a turbine manufacturer, land-use issues along Muskegon Lake, grant funding, energy storage and interface with the electrical grid, Chizek said.

“The MEDC has absolutely stepped up, along with the local agencies,” Chizek said. “Everyone is helping make this happen.”

By the end of spring, the group should be able to update the community on its progress, Chizek said. A specific site for the energy center has not yet been identified.

“This is going to become a phased approach over many years,” he said of the Muskegon Lake energy center. “The bottom line is to show how to repurpose Muskegon's port. We have some of the best deep water … it's a best-kept secret.”


A New L3: Innovative "GreenTaxi" has big potential in global aviation market

Published: Friday, January 20, 2012, 6:27 AM    
Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle MLive.com

MUSKEGON — When L3 Combat Propulsion Systems President Michael Soimar speaks about his company's GreenTaxi initiative, there's a sparkle in his eye.


L3 Combat PropulsionCapt. Bernhard Zinser, a Lufthansa Airlines technical pilot, uses a joystick to move the Airbus A320 on the new GreenTaxi system from L3 Combat Propulsion Systems in Muskegon.

The exciting potential of the new product might have something to do with the fact that the electric-motor taxi system for commercial jets could be added to about 10,000 aircraft flying worldwide today.

“We are sitting on an incredible opportunity,” Soimar said of the Muskegon-based defense contractor that has been in a recent slump due to the ending of two wars and constraints of the federal deficits.

The GreenTaxi was rolled out to the aviation industry in December when a prototype system was installed in an Airbus 320 in cooperation with Lufthansa Airlines. The L3 Magnet-Motor device was temporarily installed in the aircraft's main landing gear wheel hubs for the test run on the Frankfurt Airport tarmac in Germany.

“The intention is to build this product in our Muskegon plant,” Soimar said. “Our Magnet-Motor people designed the technology. We will industrialize it, but the brains and credit go to them.”


L3 Combat PropulsionFrom left, Wofgang Engler, Airbus A320 chief engineer, Josef Kalla of German Aerospace Research and Manfred Heeg, president of L3 Magnet-Motor, look at the GreenTaxi system as it was demonstrated late last year at Frankfurt Airport in Germany.

L3 Combat Propulsion's GreenTaxi project is an example of the innovation in the manufacturing sector that Gov. Rick Snyder is looking for from Michigan companies. New developments like the GreenTaxi help communities like Muskegon, according to Cathy Brubaker-Clarke — the city of Muskegon's economic development and planning director.

“I think this is a plus for the community and not just for L3 as it looks for alternatives for its own company,” Brubaker-Clarke said.

The GreenTaxi system is the first nondefense product coming out of the L3 Combat Propulsion in generations. In 2006, L3 purchased Magnet-Motors — a German research and development company — to use the company's motor and generator technologies for both military and commercial applications.

Magnet-Motors' knowhow is also behind L3 Combat Propulsion's exploration of utility-scale wind turbines. L3 has joined Grand Rapids-based Rockford Berge to begin exploring the development of a Michigan Energy and Technology Center on Muskegon Lake.

Soimar knows the European market well, as he is a former member of the faculty at the Technical University of Bucharest. In Romania, he became an engineering expert in engines before coming to the United States to work in industry.


L3 Combat PropulsionMagnet-Motor technology is at the heart of L3 Combat Propulsion Systems' new GreenTaxi system.

The European countries are driven by the high cost of fuel — $10 a gallon for gasoline, Soimar said. The cost of energy has accelerated the European push for alternative and renewable energy, he said.

“They have to save fuel everywhere they can,” Soimar said of the early development of the GreenTaxi concept.

Moving huge aircraft at slow speeds for extended periods of time at large, congested airports gave birth to the GreenTaxi idea. It is an electric-wheel drive system for commercial jetliners. The system can be retrofitted into existing planes or be standard equipment on new aircraft, L3 Marketing Director Phil Chizek said.

The GreenTaxi system consists of the electric motor in the hub of the plane's rear wheels, a joy-stick cockpit control device, a cooling system and electronic controls that draw on the aircraft's existing auxiliary power supply. The auxiliary power unit — a small turbine that produces electricity — also powers the jet's navigation, communication and air conditioning systems.


L3 Combat PropulsionLufthansa staff watch the demonstration of the GreenTaxi at Frankfurt Airport late last year.

Standard procedure is to have the commercial jets running their main turbine engines as they move around the airport before takeoffs and after landings. This is the most inefficient use of the jet engines, and they produce the most pollution while idling, Soimar said.

“The use of those turbines today at airports is a killer … a fuel sucker,” Soimar said.

The advantages of GreenTaxi are many: fuel savings, reduction of greenhouse gases, noise reduction, less wear on brakes, reduced engine maintenance and improved turnaround time while on the ground.

“Right up in the cockpit, the pilot is in complete control of the airplane through the electric hub,” Chizek said of the successful product test at the Frankfurt Airport. The Lufthansa Airbus 320 had a GreenTaxi installed, tested, disassembled and the jet returned to service within 10 days, he said.

L3 Combat Propulsion is now assembling a GreenTaxi team of customers such as the airlines and aircraft manufacturers, Soimar said. The goal is to get the GreenTaxi certified for commercial use on airline planes.


Integricoat Looking to Expand

Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle By Brian McVicar | The Muskegon Chronicle

Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 10:22 a.m.

A Norton Shores manufacturer could be getting a new home.

Spring Lake-based Judson Properties has received permission from the city of Norton Shores to build a 48,300 square-foot manufacturing facility at 1160 Judson. City Administrator Mark Meyers said the facility is being built for Norton Shores-based Integricoat, Inc.

Integricoat could not be reached for comment. In a 2004 story published in The Chronicle, the company was said to have produced “powder-coated metal components for the automotive and furniture industries.”

According to state records, Integricoat currently is located at 650 Airport Place in Norton Shores. Graham Howe is listed as the company's registered agent.

City officials said it's their understanding that Integricoat is moving and will cease operations at its existing plant once the new one opens. It's unclear whether the company is planning on adding employees.

Mayor Gary Nelund said he's pleased that Integricoat is choosing to build its new facility in Norton Shores.

“They needed to expand,” Nelund said. “My understanding is they needed more space.”


fortu Holding AG of Basel Switzerland appoints new CEO

fortu Holding AG names Albert A. Esser as new CEO

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