12/23/2021 // ZEELAND, MICH – Lakeshore Advantage, the economic development organization that assists employers with growth opportunities in Ottawa and Allegan counties, released their 2021 projects and achievements today.  The non-profit organization celebrated successful support of 21 expansion projects creating 694 new jobs in 2021.

“What this data shows is the resilience of our communities,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage President.  “Even amid uncertainty and change, our employers grew and flourished in our vibrant economy and that is worth celebrating.  We applaud all the companies who were able to expand this year and are pleased to be an extended member of their team to support their growth.”

The largest expansion project supported this year was Request Foods’ expansion, which includes a $205M investment that will create 198 jobs in Holland Charter Township.  This major expansion will allow additional capacity for production of frozen prepared entrees, side dishes, and specialty food items.

“Request Foods is excited to continue our history of successful growth in West Michigan by investing over $200M over the next few years, in four major projects in Holland Charter Township,” said Menaka Abel, Request Foods Chief Financial Officer.  “Our investment is expected to create up to 198 new jobs, with most of our new team members residing in Ottawa County (Holland Township).  While we received enticing offers to expand in other states, our commitment to Michigan, coupled with our desire to ensure Holland is recognized as an area of choice to live and work, precipitated our decision to expand locally. We are grateful for the cooperation we have received from Holland Charter Township, Ottawa County, and the State of Michigan officials – along with the support we have received from Lakeshore Advantage and our partners at Warner Norcross + Judd, which enabled us to bring our expansion plans to fruition.”

Another key expansion project supported was Harbor Steel’s new operations in Holland Charter Township, investing nearly $2.5M in land and building improvements.  This company’s growth will help to ensure the region’s manufacturers have the steel components needed to produce products.

“The Holland community has been home to Harbor Steel since 1986.  The humble beginnings of a start-up operation to our fifth expansion are a testament to this vibrant and dynamic marketplace,” said Stephen B. Heneveld, COO, Harbor Steel & Supply.  “The business-friendly environment and the dedicated workforce have been vital to our success and longevity.  Our team is genuinely excited for the future and this new chapter in our West Michigan story.”

Other key annual achievements for Lakeshore Advantage include:

  • More than $61.6M in additional funding from local, state, and federal partner organizations to support 271 employers
  • Distributed $1.8M in grants to small businesses
  • Engaged in a regional Industry 4.0 awareness campaign that will continue in 2022.
  • Assisted 62 startup companies helping them raise $16.6M in investment support

“Our team and region have much to celebrate over the past challenging year.  These successes would not be possible without the collaboration of our public, private, and education partners,” said Owens.  “We will need that partnership even more in the new year as we set the course for what is sure to be a revolutionary year ahead.”

As Lakeshore Advantage looks forward to ensuring long-term economic success, their three-year picture includes having West Michigan known and recognized as an Industry 4.0 leader, an innovation center for the startup community, and an increase in diverse and emerging workforce with strides forward in affordability and accessibility of higher education.

To view Lakeshore Advantage’s 2021 Successful Projects and Achievements handout, go to our website HERE.

About Lakeshore Advantage
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit local economic development organization started in 2003 by forward-focused business and community leaders to ensure current and future generations want to live and work in our vibrant economy.  Lakeshore Advantage assists primary employers, from startups to large world-class corporations, in West Michigan’s Allegan and Ottawa counties.

In 2021, Lakeshore Advantage supported 21 business growth projects, resulting in $259.9 million in private investment and 694 new jobs.  We assisted 271 primary employers in 2021.  In addition, we supported 62 startup companies and administered a small business grant program that injected $1.8 million into the local economy.  More at www.lakeshoreadvantage.com.

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