Lakeshore Advantage Announces 2016 Economic Successes

Posted in News on January 31, 2017

Zeeland, Michigan – Lakeshore Advantage, the non-profit economic development organization for Ottawa and northern Allegan counties, released the region’s year-end economic successes to a gathering of over 100 business and community leaders at a private investor gathering this month. The meeting featured special guest Steve Arwood, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“There’s a long list of projects that happen in this community, and that’s not by accident,” said Steve Arwood. “West Michigan is setting the example through your local economic development efforts for the rest of the state.”

2016 Regional economic successes include:
• Twenty-six business expansion projects, resulting in $205 million in private investment and 1,052 jobs.
• Nearly eleven million dollars in government funding leveraged for area businesses, employees and the community.

An example of this funding includes the 34 companies that attained $1.37 million in Skilled Trades Training Fund grants to upgrade the skills of new and existing employees, with support of West Michigan Works!.

• Launching and supporting 102 human resource professionals through round table and educational sessions.
• Supporting 225 entrepreneurs through programming and education, and mentoring 29 entrepreneurs to navigate their next business milestones.
• Officially achieving Holland SmartZone status to dedicate resources to entrepreneurial efforts.
• Meeting with 375 local business leaders to listen to successes and challenges, and create valuable connections for growth.
A digital version of the full report is available online at:

Addressing the investors at the event, Mike Ramirez, chair of the Lakeshore Advantage Board of Directors said, “Because of your work and investment, the Lakeshore Advantage accomplishments of 2016 are also yours to celebrate.”

Among the major business expansions announced in 2016, the Kent Quality Foods’ new facility in Jamestown Township represents the largest single project investment at $34.8 million. JR Automation’s expansion in Holland Township is on track to create 250 jobs, the most jobs created for a single project in 2016.

“Having the supporting structure of Lakeshore Advantage, MEDC, Michigan Works! and Holland Charter Township allows JR to focus on our operational business growth in Michigan,” said Bryan Jones, CEO, JR Automation. “West Michigan and the talented people who choose to work at JR are huge contributors to our continued success and expansion.  We are excited to offer hundreds of new job opportunities to both experienced engineers and new grads.”

Lakeshore Advantage reports a return on investment of $170 for every one dollar invested in the organization in 2016. 

About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit economic development organization that catalyzes resources to drive economic growth in West Michigan. Lakeshore Advantage works to maintain a robust primary business base at all stages of development, from startups to large world-class corporations. Lakeshore Advantage is the administrator of the Holland SmartZone.

Lakeshore Advantage links area companies with the tools and resources needed for continued growth. In 2016, Lakeshore Advantage assisted with 26 growth projects resulting in over $205 million dollars in new private sector investment and 1,052 new jobs.