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10/05/2016 // JAMESTOWN CHARTER TOWNSHIP, MICH –Injection molded plastic components manufacturer Royal Technologies Corporation announced today they will invest nearly $33.7 million to build a warehouse and separate manufacturing facility in Jamestown Charter Township, MI, and create 66 new jobs. The company, headquartered in Hudsonville, MI, currently has three manufacturing facilities in Michigan in addition to regional operations in Texas and Alabama.

“For nearly 30 years, Royal Technologies has experienced substantial growth, much to the credit of the world class employees, leadership and business support we experience in West Michigan,” said Jim Vander Kolk, president of Royal Technologies. “Our expansion is an investment in the area’s workforce, industry and culture of continuous improvement and mutual success that exists here.”

Lakeshore Advantage has assisted Royal Technologies with expansions in the past, including infrastructure projects that brought road, water and sewer improvements to the Jamestown Commerce Center.

“We are pleased to connect Royal Technologies to the resources they need to grow in West Michigan,” said Jennifer Owens, president, Lakeshore Advantage. “Their expansion creates great jobs at a top-notch company with a reputation for excellent employee development opportunities.”

Royal Technologies was the first company to locate in the industrial park off of Quincy Street in 1999, creating what is now the Jamestown Commerce Center. The new warehouse and manufacturing facilities will be located east of the original 400,000 square foot Royal Technologies building.

Royal Technologies manufactures plastic components for a variety of industries including office furniture, automotive, and consumer products manufacturers. The company offers a wide array of services, such as project management, engineering services, product design, prototyping, validating and testing services.

“Royal Technologies’ continued investment in the community through this project is substantial for Hudsonville,” said Michelle Fare, executive director, Hudsonville Area Chamber of Commerce. “It is only with partners like Royal Technologies, supporting and investing in the community, that we continue to be a destination for families to live and work.”

Jamestown Charter Township has offered support to the project in the form of a 12-year P.A. 198 property tax abatement to support the company’s growth locally.

“Royal Technologies is an anchor in our community and we are delighted that they are growing. They have a stellar reputation and are an excellent partner with which to work. Congratulations, Royal!” Said Ken Bergwerff, Jamestown Charter Township supervisor.

Royal Technologies was awarded a $400,000 performance-based grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help offset construction costs and to ensure a long-term sustainable relationship to West Michigan and its workforce for years to come. Royal Technologies chose to expand in Michigan over another location in the U.S.

“Royal Technologies’ expansion in Michigan rather than other locations means well-paying jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the state’s manufacturing talent,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers incentives and programs on behalf of Michigan Strategic Fund. “The decision by Royal Technologies to invest here offers further evidence of Michigan’s manufacturing leadership and our commitment to helping companies grow and generate new jobs for our residents.”

Royal Technologies is also receiving a grant from West Michigan Works! for $92,000 to assist with employee recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training.

"West Michigan Works! Is focused on providing a pool of qualified talent for our region's employers," said Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan Works!. “We're pleased to support Royal Technologies’ expansion and the growing West Michigan economy."

Individuals interested in careers with Royal Technologies should visit


9/30/2016 // ZEELAND, MICH – Leaders from Lakeshore Advantage, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids’ Start Garden presented “Building a Regional Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” at the International Economic Development Council Annual Meeting this week in Cleveland, OH. The team was chosen to present methods and lessons learned to a gathering of international economic developers that included how to combine efforts to grow and retain entrepreneurs with long-term sustainability and private sector participation. 

“To successfully support new businesses and ideas, you need to be nimble like a new business. This means working together, building on strengths, filling gaps and using resources efficiently.” said Jennifer Owens, president, Lakeshore Advantage. “We’re honored to have been chosen to present our model on a global scale, so that other regions can apply what will work for them for the benefit of their entrepreneurs and communities.”

The West Michigan regional model for supporting entrepreneurs and innovation includes the Holland SmartZone, a satellite of the Grand Rapids SmartZone, and the programming, resources and lessons learned each share. The City of Grand Rapids SmartZone has contracted with Start Garden to lead West Michigan innovation and entrepreneurship efforts. The organizations work together to create entrepreneurial programming and events, while efficiently deploying resources and eliminating effort duplication through systems and communication. The Holland SmartZone is administered by Lakeshore Advantage. 

“Simplification is key in creating an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs are supported in achieving their next milestone. With regional resources working together, we can focus on providing startups needed services for their success,” said Mike Morin, CEO of Start Garden. “When business ideas come to life, it’s a win for everyone.”

Kara Wood, economic development director for the City of Grand Rapids, presented on the importance of public/private participation to achieve long-term sustainable growth and how innovation knows no boundaries, despite the SmartZone’s geographical tax capture. Owens and Morin discussed their working relationship, including how to achieve regional cooperation and how to leverage service providers to grow a healthy ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs at all stages of business development. 

About SmartZones
SmartZones are specially created "certified technology parks" designated by the State of Michigan, designed to spur the growth of technology-related or research-oriented businesses and employment opportunities. Holland received their satellite SmartZone designation in November 2015. Lakeshore Advantage is the administrator of the Holland SmartZone.
Start Garden:
Holland SmartZone:



9/21/2016 // HOLLAND, MICH – Business leaders are invited to spend next Friday morning connecting with some of over 30 support organizations ready to help move their companies and ideas forward. The Lakeshore Business Resource Connect is a free event hosted by Lakeshore Advantage, the area’s economic development organization, and sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“I challenge all area businesses, no matter their size, if they’re looking to grow, or are facing an obstacle, to attend the event and leave with the goal of making at least one connection to help them overcome whatever hurdle they’re facing,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. 

Lakeshore Advantage is organizing this event to offer all area companies the opportunity to learn about and meet first-hand with more than 30 local and state organizations ready to help them grow. Designed with West Michigan’s small to medium-sized businesses and manufacturers in mind, this event brings service organizations all together in one place, exposing the depth of resources and opportunities available to help area businesses thrive.

Lakeshore Business Resource Connect is Friday, September 30th, from 7:30am-10am at the Pinnacle Center, 3330 Highland Drive, Hudsonville, Michigan. The event will start with an overview of the different service organizations. Business will have an opportunity to briefly meet one-on-one with the service organizations that can help them most, immediately following.

Business leaders are encouraged to register for this free event by September 22nd to have early bird preference for one-on-one meetings. A full list of service organizations attending is available at the event registration link. Most service organizations that will be present fit into these categories:
·       Access to Capital
·       Business to Business Support
·       Entrepreneurial Support
·       Manufacturing Support
·       Talent Solutions
·       New Business Development

Those who plan to attend are encouraged to register before September 22nd at


Skilled Trades Training Fund Changes in 2017

West Michigan Works! held Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) employer sessions this August, and noted below are a few details about the changes for STTF fiscal year 2017 program to secure funds to train workers. 

  • Applications are available on Sept 12th and can start being received on the 13th. 
  • Scoring is weighted (and on the application materials) and all applications will be reviewed by the State starting Oct 15th.  It is possible that the review process will take up to Thanksgiving for companies to know if they have been approved.  November is the target month for awards. 
  • Points are given if a company has never received STTF funds.  No points are given for those who have received funds from this program in the past. 
  • Applications need to be turned in to Michigan Works by Oct 10th to be reviewed and submitted to the State.
  • Max funds allowed are $1,500 per employee for classroom and OJT (wages)
  • Max funds allowed for a DOL registered apprenticeship is $3,000
  • Funds can be matched with federal dollars.


8/26/2016 // HOLLAND, MICH –For the first time ever, the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) will hold its annual meeting in Holland, MI, August 15-17, 2017. The announcement was made at the annual statewide gathering of economic development professionals this week in Detroit via a video and presentation given by Jennifer Owens, president of the area’s non-profit economic development organization, Lakeshore Advantage. 

“I’m thrilled to be hosting my economic development colleagues here next year, so they can experience first-hand what makes ours such a great place to work, live, learn and play,” said Jennifer Owens, who will also be the annual meeting committee chairperson. “This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how we work together to achieve economic success, particularly as the fastest growing county in Michigan.”

In the past, Holland was not considered for the annual meeting because of its limited centralized hotel room capacity to host such an event. The recent growth of the downtown Holland hotel room inventory allows for the entire MEDA group to be accommodated together for the annual meeting.

“Holland will be celebrating another first when the MEDA economic development leaders come to town and enjoy all our area has to offer,” said City of Holland Mayor Nancy DeBoer, who has agreed to be on the planning committee for the event. “I trust they will be among the first of many organizations of this size who will choose to host annual meetings, conferences and learning events in our great city because of our amenities and expanded, centralized hotel room capacity.”

MEDA's biggest education and networking event of the year is its annual meeting. This three-day conference includes educational sessions covering the most important economic development topics and issues of the time as well as several networking opportunities for the more than 200 annual attendees.

“When we choose our annual MEDA meeting host city, we look for an area where forward-thinking economic development practices are working,” said John Avery, executive director of MEDA. “I’m expecting record membership attendance next year in Holland, because of the beautiful location and the numerous examples of how partners in a region work together to create a viable, sustainable, wonderful community where businesses and residents want to be.”

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