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Has Grand Rapids Become Michigan’s Economic Engine?

A new article in Crain’s Business Detroit shows that while Detroit and the East Side of the state continue to stumble out of an economic recession, the west side, paced by Grand Rapids, is rolling along.

Powered by a growing manufacturing sector, and a thriving small business community, Grand Rapids is fast becoming Michigan’s economic engine, according to the article, entitled “Michigan’s Economic Axis Tilts West”.

“The east side of the state has not recovered as fast as the west side of the state,” Brian Long, director of Grand Valley State University’s supply management research told Crain’s. He has surveyed West Michigan purchasing managers for 38 years and has chronicled the region’s economic recovery.

The article went on to explain:

The Grand Rapids region, comprised of Kent, Ottawa, Barry and Montcalm counties, enjoyed the most robust job growth — 21 percent, more than 90,000 jobs — between 2012 and 2015. And though it has some of the lower average wages in the state, they rose a healthy 3.6 percent over the same three years, second best among the state’s 14 metropolitan regions.


While it’s been a well-worn path for many in the Midwest to head to Chicago and Minneapolis, more young workers are heading to the largest city in West Michigan, where the downtown has enjoyed a revival with the addition and expansion of higher education and health care industries.

This would be rocking good news, if wasn’t for that pesky thing about low wages.

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