Lakeshore Advantage analysis of 120 company interviews dives into growth areas, barriers and opportunities
9/19/2019 -ZEELAND, Mich. – Employers in Allegan and Ottawa counties are growing in a healthy regional economy, with 73% of employers reporting plans to expand in the next three years, according to the 2019 Economic Update report released today by Lakeshore Advantage.
“These conversations require trust between the company leaders, our partners and our team.” said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage. “We are grateful for area leaders who share their stories and perspectives that result in this report. This information continues to steer our priority initiatives as the region’s local economic development organization.”
The 2019 Economic Update report includes other company growth indicators. Of the companies interviewed:
• 69% reported that market share of their key product was increasing
• 89% reported increasing or stable sales
• The number of respondents reporting some international sales has increased 12% over the last three years
The report is an analysis of 120 senior-level executive interviews with primary employers in Allegan and Ottawa counties from June 2018 through May 2019. The report features primary research and secondary data to show key points about the economic health of area employers and the region as a place to do business. Along with the report, Lakeshore Advantage presented stories of business growth, growing pains and economic growth opportunities at a preview investor event at Perrigo on September 17.
“Perrigo was thrilled to host this year’s Economic Update Preview from Lakeshore Advantage,” said Steve Ramus, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Perrigo. “As the largest employer in Allegan County, and with facilities in both Ottawa and Kent, Perrigo is directly aligned with Lakeshore Advantage on enhancing the economic vitality in the region.”
The top reported barrier to growth is availability of labor supply, with 79% of respondents reporting this as a barrier. This number is down slightly from 81% reporting labor supply as a barrier to growth last year. One in three companies reported anticipated negative impacts from tariffs. Both of these topics continue to be addressed through economic development and local chamber of commerce initiatives, programming and events.
Growth opportunities include the region’s manufacturing, construction and professional, scientific and technical services industries. From 2013-2018, these industries grew by 20%, 25% and 20%, respectively. Manufacturing accounts for 30% of the jobs in Allegan and Ottawa counties, and manufacturing jobs pay 35% higher wages on average than the average across all jobs.
Lakeshore Advantage, Allendale Area Chamber of Commerce, Hudsonville Area Chamber of Commerce, West Coast Chamber and The Chamber, Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg, were the partnering organizations that conducted the company interviews. Here are some insights from the partnering Chamber organizations:
“The West Michigan Lakeshore Region Economic Update tells an important story about “Why Manufacturing Matters” as well as opportunities and barriers to growth along the Lakeshore,” said Joy Gaasch, President of The Chamber, Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg. “It is also a reflection of the great collaborations of organizations working together with their respective communities throughout Allegan and Ottawa counties and a must read for those communities to celebrate successes and work together to address barriers to growth throughout the region.”
“Being kept up to date on growth opportunities and growing pains is a good practice in vigilance for us at the West Coast Chamber,” said Jane Clark, President of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. “To know our businesses’ pulse in this economy gives us opportunity to provide exactly what will best serve them at their current growth stage.”
“The goal is to be aware of and then work to help remove the red tape that businesses experience so that they can flourish in our community,” said Janessa Smit, Executive Director of the Allendale Area Chamber of Commerce. “Lakeshore Advantage’s work has huge value in that awareness and that direct business assistance, and we are grateful to participate in compiling data for them to aid in the success of our region.”
“We are so thankful that Lakeshore Advantage conducts the local research each year with our primary employers,” said Michelle Fare, Executive Director, Hudsonville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Having access to data on the specific strengths and challenge areas of our own community is vital for our long-term planning as communities.”