Weathering Economic Storms - Lakewood Construction

Weathering Economic Storms

Guest Post: Amanda Murray, Lakeshore Advantage

Have you had to make a quick change of plans recently for your business, your family, or those once-upon-a-time simple holiday visits? Whether it be travel, housing, tech or other, we have all experienced this truth: a host of sectors have weathered massive swings in recent years. The economy makes no guarantees.

But one thing is for certain: Michigan has a rich tradition of ingenuity and innovation, as evidenced by the hundreds of businesses with deep roots right here in these sandy soils. West Michigan’s Lakeshore is home to top furniture and related-product manufacturers, automotive industry leaders, smart manufacturing implementers and manufacturers, as well as food, and computer and electronics product manufacturers. And manufacturers aren’t the only ones growing our regional economy.

As the economy adjusts following a year declared the ‘polycrisis’, not all news in the world of economics is bad news. Research conducted by my team at Lakeshore Advantage in 2022 to understand the opportunities and obstacles to growth faced by businesses in the region indicated that leaders were optimistic about the year ahead. That’s likely due to the volume and diversity of manufacturing industries in the region which haven’t seen the same declines in market-demand as some other sectors. In fact, manufacturing was characterized as an “economic bright spot” in this recent episode of The McKinsey Podcast. Nonetheless, your business—manufacturing or not—may be facing new challenges this year.

Whether your greatest threats to growth are talent, supply chain, or infrastructure-related issues, you shouldn’t face them alone—the issues are complex, and their solutions are nuanced, often calling for collaboration between business, community, and government. As the region’s economic development organization, Lakeshore Advantage is an expert resource for employers and entrepreneurs who call, or are considering calling, the Lakeshore ‘home’. We are here to anticipate the future needs, and voice the current concerns, of your business so that it may continue to thrive in West Michigan’s Lakeshore region.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to grow in West Michigan, reach out to me and my team.

Lakeshore Advantage has two main lines of service: First, for employers in any industry who grow our region’s economy by exporting goods or services outside the region, our team will step alongside yours to tackle challenges so that your business can grow. Second, we foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem and programming so that those who see opportunities for innovative solutions to a problem, and an opportunity in the market for a new product, can become the economy-growing employers of tomorrow.

Tackling Challenges Together

Lakeshore Advantage offers traditional economic development services including site location and business expansion assistance. However, our solutions are as unique as your business. We will work with you, as an employer who grows our region’s economy, to overcome barriers to growth no matter what those barriers look like. Our core focus areas in 2023 include:

  • Creating and deploying talent development, retention, and attraction tools
  • Making smart manufacturing implementation more attainable
  • Preparing major industrial sites for development to allow for employer growth
  • Making post-secondary education more accessible

We do all of this in collaboration with local, regional, and state-level partner organizations, governments, industry thought leaders, and educational institutions.

We can work with you to provide or connect you with additional resources or support including the following:

·        Community tools to create or support inclusive policies and practices

·        Export assistance

·        Government contracting

·        Legal assistance

·        Market research & qualified sales leads

·        Workforce training

·        Social networking

·        Product research and development

·        Sale of a business

·        Supply chain diversification and/or localization

·        Sustainability/energy efficiency

·        Technology assistance

·        Virtual business development/E-commerce

Seeding the Lakeshore’s Employers of Tomorrow

Lakeshore Advantage launched our business incubator and startup hub, The SURGE Center, in February of 2022 after six years of prior SURGE programming to support area-entrepreneurs. Born out of an up-tick in entrepreneurial activity following the Great Recession in 2008, Lakeshore Advantage began offering services for product and technology startups.

We partnered with the Michigan Small Business Development Center to help those who had gotten into entrepreneurship validate their business ideas and create business plans.

Programming and services cover the full life of a startup, from concept through commercialization. Today, SURGE offers a host of resources including:

  • Bespoke stage-to-stage guidance
  • SURGE Academy with access to virtual programs and in-person coaching
  • Coworking space exclusively designed for the startup community
  • A mentor network with a dedicated group of experienced and willing-to-help founders
  • SURGE meetups, workshops, and events facilitated specifically for the advancement of West Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

The SURGE Center is where it’s at! It is here that we are building a vibrant startup community and an ecosystem of support that includes mentorship, networking events, and an opportunity for entrepreneurs to work side-by-side. The space is electric with market-frontier energy. Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m there I swear I can feel the force of innovation propelling our region into the future. Whether that feeling is unique to me or not, I highly recommend a SURGE show-and-tell where you can see and hear about the products of tomorrow. If you’re curious and want to learn more, connect with Amanda Chocko, director of entrepreneurship, or visit the SURGE website and follow along on LinkedIn for upcoming events.

While none of us can know for sure what the future holds, I am can say with all certainty that my team is ready and well-equipped to tackle the challenges and seize on the opportunities of tomorrow, with you.