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Crains Grand Rapids Business Brief

Crain's Grand Rapids Business

* Michigan's declining health & economic impact

* Meijer Sports Complex capital campaign

* Holland's LG Energy Solutions plant future N. American HQ?

Mark Sanchez: We are not doing well in terms of our personal health for each of us. We have high rates of obesity, cancer, common chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and so on. And it's really not good for the health of this state because ultimately this can affect the economy. It affects it not only what employers and people are paying for their health premiums, because it's medical claims that really drive health premiums, and a number of chronic health conditions are what really are have been for many years driving health claims higher. Bottom line, this is a report from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan and Ann Arbor-based Research and Consulting from Altarum. It's been doing a series of reports this summer about just the status of the economy and status of Michigan. Bottom line, Michigan as of 2022 ranked 39th for health outcomes compared to other states. That's down from 32nd in 2008. And just to throw a couple more numbers at you, we're high compared to other states in terms of some of those health issues. As of three years ago, this is the data they collected from a number of sources. 35% of Michigan residents were obese. That's compared to 31%, almost 32% nationally and 33.5% versus other Midwest states. So, it's high everywhere, but we're really high. Michigan has an incidence rates of diabetes of 12.3%. versus 10.5% or 10.6% across the U.S. and 10.5% in neighboring states in terms of cardiovascular disease. One in 10 Michigan residents has cardiovascular disease, 8% nationally, 8.5% across the Midwest. So, we're higher in these incidence rates of obesity, which has a lot of health ramifications and these chronic illnesses. Why does this matter? Because as the gentleman who spoke last week with the Citizens Research Council, he talked about if people aren't healthy, they're not as productive at work. They have higher absenteeism. They have a lower productivity rates. They're not, well, they're not living life to the fullest and not as productive. So, there's a lot of reasons for this, but it's a real issue that's been actually occurring for many, many years as these incidents rates have steadily risen. And now here's just kind of a singular report that really puts the focus on the health status of the people here in Michigan.

Patrick Center: How much of this falls on the individual? How much of this is an influence or lack of influence by healthcare providers to be proactive, to provide programs of being proactive in one's healthcare?

Mark Sanchez: Well, you know, we've seen that proactive approach for a long time now, both in the wellness components of health coverage, as well as your health systems or physician practices trying to be more proactive. And in fact, the Citizens Research Council report says Michigan has a really good system of health care providers. They're high quality, they're strong. But there are other issues going on. That's only accounting for about 20% of what's going on. There's what's known as the social determinants of health. lifestyle and other behaviors that are major drivers of poor health outcomes. You look at issues such as access to fresh and healthy foods, community safety, poverty, transportation to get to the store to buy things, and yes, lifestyle choices, lifestyle options, and lack of exercise, a lack of good dietary habits. All of these things combine to affect health. And again, bottom line. We're not a particularly healthy population here in Michigan. So yes, your healthcare providers have been preaching this, talking about this for many years about trying to get on top of this and get people to take better care of themselves. They have access to healthcare. Another good positive out of this report is Michigan's got a relatively low uninsured population. Part of that's due to the Medicaid expansion many years ago. So, there are a number of factors in this report and there are some positives. But the negative is overall, we're not a particularly healthy population.

Patrick Center: In your first sentence of the story, the spotlight shines on this; significant racial health disparities persist. What are the causes? What are the recommendations?

Mark Sanchez: That's again, also an issue of the access to a healthy foods, food insecurity, poverty. as well as access in some markets to care where you have these low-income markets. You don't have as many doctors, as many care centers in those markets. So, what do you do about it? That's an issue to focus more on. We've seen again health systems trying to put more attention to that, and it's not just your urban centers, but also in rural markets across the state. There's a kind of a lack of access to care that's needed and a lack of access to physicians. We do have a physician shortage going on, a nursing shortage going on, the staffing shortage that's not only affecting healthcare, but the entire economy. So those are issues as well, that you've got these persistent inequities going on in healthcare. You hear a lot of talk about it. You do see a lot of effort on a lot of fronts to address this, and it's particularly come up and gotten much more attention out of the pandemic. But these are hard issues to address and resolve.

Patrick Center: We're talking with Crain's Grand Rapids Business senior writer, Mark Sanchez, the fundraising campaign for an $11 million expansion of the Meijer Sports Complex, a $1 million lead gift. This is a big project taking place. It's Plainfield Township, but it's right on the Rockford border. Big money coming in, some big ideas that will be addressed.

Mark Sanchez: Yeah, this is information that West Michigan Sports Commission put out late last week. It's an $11 million campaign to expand that Meijer Sports Complex up near Rockford. And they've passed that halfway threshold, $5.8 million raised so far of the $11 million goal. And they got a big $1 million gift from Meijer that, you know, a lot of times when you see these major capital campaigns, those organizations can take those lead gifts and major gifts and leverage those and go to other potential benefactors and say, ‘This organization believes in us and what we're doing and the cause and the mission.’ And that helps to validate what they're doing and for the project. So, this campaign's been going on, that complex up by Rockford's been around, I think almost nine, 10 years. Brings a lot of folks to town each year. There is an economic impact that sports travel. So, they want to expand it and expand all of those amenities there. And so far, they're off to a pretty good start in their capital campaign.

Patrick Center: Pickleball. A number of courts will be constructed there along with some very high-end softball and baseball diamonds as well. But there's a big investment in pickleball here.

Mark Sanchez: Pickleball, 20 pickleball courts. You know, we're an aging population and especially your older folks have taken to pickleball. We've seen this really emerge in the last few years. So, there's going to be 20 pickleball courts there, including a championship court. And there will also be things like, again, you said the amateur baseball and softball fields, you'll have some new bleachers. We have some new synthetic turf installed on the championship baseball field, new concessions, restroom. So, it's quite an extensive project there planned up at the sports complex in Rockford. And again, folks are responding well to this capital campaign and they're more than halfway there toward their $11 million goal.

Patrick Center: Expansion there, expansion in Holland, LG Energy Solutions, the battery plant there. There's talk of potentially that site becoming LG's North American headquarters.

Mark Sanchez: Yeah, you know, LG Energy Solutions doing a big $1.7 billion expansion of the lithium-ion campus there in Holland and Lakeshore Advantage, the economic development group in the area, had a tour last week, Developer Day. And my coworker here at Crane's Grand Rapids business, Kate Carlson, joined and the folks from LG Energy talked a little bit about the potential. for Holland to become the company's North American headquarters as it scales up that battery production across the country. That could bring a good influx of white-collar senior level executive positions into Holland. It's an advanced manufacturing, the type of manufacturing you want. And Holland is among eight plants in the U.S. and Canada that algae is investing in. And there's probably some competition for this headquarters. So, it's a potential, it's a possibility. They talked a little bit about it on that Developer Day tour last week in Holland in Allegan and Ottawa counties and stay tuned. We'll see where this process goes.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.