Growing up in Detroit, references to Muskegon were rare. Even among my Holland relatives. When I was young, I was told it was a “working-man’s town” or simply a “struggling industrial town”. Apparently, its been struggling for several decades. Economic growth for the city was down 13% last decade, with manufacturing and construction being hit especially hard.
Although long overdue, Muskegon is finally taking strong steps to revitalize their downtown and diversify their economy. For instance, the Rapid Growth Media points out that the city is getting a full makeover. In particular, they note the demolishing of an old downtown mall, the opening of two downtown breweries, and the relocation of a popular farmer’s market to downtown. The latter is a nearly $4 million project that includes “a performance stage, a certified commercial kitchen for startup food companies, and an ice skating rink”. Moreover, the shoreline is being redeveloped with new residences and businesses.

Sustaining this good news means taking proactive steps to court investment. Accordingly, GVSU’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) announced this year that they’re supporting a Muskegon Angel investment group. The group will seek to attract investment in advanced manufacturing, technology, water-related issues, and food production  Indeed, MAREC itself continues to grow as an anchor to the city’s smartzone 

It should be somewhat self-evident that Muskegon’s fate is not inconsequential to Grand Rapids. As an investment factor, West Michigan’s regional economy is far more important than the health of any one city. So while GRAPE begins with “Grand Rapids Area….”, GRAPE’s speaker events will begin to be held in Muskegon (the first on December 5).


Post by John M Potter, GRAPE Host.