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Continued growth expected in core West Michigan business segments

Courtesy: The Right Place

Continued growth of west Michigan business segments is expected in 2016.

That's according to George Erickcek of the W.E. Upjohn Economic Institute.

He says growth was seen in all core industries, which include furniture, healthcare and administrative and support services – and notes particular growth in construction, paired with the Grand Rapid-Wyoming area’s shortage of building stock.

Presenting at the annual The Right Place economic summit, Erickcek did something new with the numbers this year – a direct comparison with nine other metropolitan areas across the nation with similar builds and populations.

He says the Grand Rapids area provides the best employment conditions of the 10, and notes its attraction to young professionals as a key future strength.

“Your young people are right alongside Charlotte and Portland and Rochester; that’s truly remarkable. And that is a sea change for Grand Rapids.”

Erickcek says on the macro level, 2016 may be a slow or sluggish year – particularly in the international marketplace.

“We could be slowed down because of our trading partners – something that I think is the number one big concern that we have. I don’t think we can go alone, we need to have strong trading partners, and we may not have those coming into ’16.”

Erickcek says local and state challenges include growth in export services and infrastructure spending.

He says although the manufacturing industry is strong locally, a challenge to future growth may be in combatting stigma or misperceptions of the career for young people.

Erickcek adds nationally and locally he wants to see reforms in the secondary education structure and the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which he says will go far in addressing economic inequalities.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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