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The Right Place 24th annual Economic Outlook for West Michigan

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The Right Place

Regional economic development organization, The Right Place, held its 24th annual Economic Outlook for West Michigan in a virtual venue. A sign of the times with the coronavirus pandemic spurring the 2020 recession. With a vaccine on the horizon, what’s the economic forecast for 2021.

“As we’re able to open up the economy, I think there’s certainly less risk to a continuing recession. Arguably, we were in a recession for a quarter and then we saw growth.”

Jim Robey is Director of Regional Economic Planning Services with the W.E. Upjohn Institute.

“Our own forecast really looks at positive growth in Q1 of 2021. Assuming all the stars align in that people are able to get back to work and be in-person.”

Small and medium-sized manufacturers are doing alright. But it’s those small businesses focused on personal care services and other in-person services like restaurants and retailers that are of concern.

“They are in dire need.”

Birgit Klohs is President and CEO of The Right Place. She explains in 2020 it delivered $10.5 million in small business grants to 1,200 regional small and medium-sized enterprises.

“When we started making these grants everyone figured, ‘oh, another month. Another month.’ But now we’re nine months in. And so, we have to make a differentiation between the smaller SMEs that are goods producing and the SMEs that are in the service sector, retail sector and the personal care sector and the hospitality sector, that’s a very different picture.”

Klohs says that’s where the need will be for more economic stimulus aid moving forward.