Lakeshore companies have positive outlook – Grand Rapids Business Journal

Employers on the lakeshore said they had a great 2022 and have big plans for the next three years.
According to an industry trends report this month from Lakeshore Advantage, 97% of companies in Allegan and Ottawa counties increased or maintained market share. Building on that, 60% of those companies are expecting to expand within the next three years.
“This feedback and insight of more than 100 senior business leaders is invaluable to ensuring our economic development efforts and initiatives are focused on the real-time needs of our area employers,” Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens said. “In the new year, we will continue to work side-by-side with our primary employers to help ensure this forecasted growth and remove barriers standing in their way now or in the future.”
There were 34 successful expansion projects, according to Lakeshore Advantage, with the average project costing $8 million and an average of 19 jobs added.
Lakeshore Advantage surveyed 120 companies for the industry report. The largest employers in the region include Gentex Corp., Haworth, JBS USA, LG Energy Solution, Magna Mirrors, MillerKnoll, Perrigo, Request Foods, Shape Corp. and Tyson Foods.
Other key takeaways from the Lakeshore Advantage industry trends report:
In the two-county lakeshore region, 30% of jobs are tied to manufacturing, including furniture and related products, fabricated metal product, food, and computer and electronic product manufacturing. Five local food processors have invested $1.5 billion during the past three years.
The report expects manufacturing job growth will be 2% higher in the region than the national average.
In terms of challenges, companies remain concerned about supply chain disruptions and access to talent for hires. Hiring for skilled positions proves to be a significant hurdle, as 69% of companies said recruiting has been an issue.
Raw materials and semiconductor chips and electrical were the supplies disrupted the most. Because of the disruptions, 40% of those with issues have brought outsourced goods and services back in-house.
Lakeshore companies are in need of engineering, production and machinist help. Along the lines of hiring, 70% of companies are preparing to utilize smart manufacturing technologies, but staff expertise to implement them is a major hurdle.
Beyond the hiring issues, 80% of companies reported supply chain disruptions. While in 2021 the disruptions were largely international, this year they were regional and national.
“Forty percent of companies who reported supply chain disruptions indicated they plan to bring outsourced goods and services back in house,” said Lakeshore Advantage Vice President of Business Solutions Amanda Murray. “They’re mostly bringing machining, painting and anodizing back in house. We’re also seeing more vertical integration as companies identify how they can adapt and take more control over their timelines.”

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