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March 8, 2021
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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
(wgvu) - Global sourcing will be key for western Michigan manufacturing, but external events will make specific predictions all but futile.
Better, a new study says, to focus on improving processes and worker skills.
If you are a top-notch company, you can succeed wherever you are, concluded Melissa Anderson, who studied supply-chain issues for the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, or WIRED, program.
Anderson, a vice president at industrial consulting company IRN Inc. of Grand Rapids, interviewed or surveyed more than 30 western Michigan manufacturers with $10 million in annual revenues up to $18 billion. Her analysis studied how supply chains of companies in the region are changing, with an eye toward determining if such information could be used to predict shifts in skills demanded by local companies.
It turned out that no particular product or manufacturing process appears to be jeopardized by outsourcing, for example, but that about any company can thrive given the proper amount of attention to operational excellence and their value proposition.
Work force development opportunities did arise, however, in the need for workers with good communication skills, she said.
At the academic level, it's kind of funny that we haven't recognized a way to accomplish this. But improvement of clear communication is essential because supply chains have become so complex, she said.
That can include skills such as using jargon-free communication, improved customer interactions, collaboration, negotiation and working with external partners, she said.
The region does have agencies, institutions and other resources that can deliver such training, she noted.
The findings could reinforce other WIRED programs, including the WorkKeys skills certification initiative under way across the region, she said.
It also underscores the reality of the shift toward a knowledge-based economy, WIRED project manager Phil Rios said. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills will become even more important, he said.
That leads back to talent, he added. Those with the best talent will be the most successful.
Companies do need to have practical instruction in global trade issues, Anderson found. Even development of a forum for manufacturers to pass along acquired knowledge of the ins and outs of export would move many along toward that capability, she said.
It doesn't mean you will only operate in western Michigan, but you will be astute enough to figure out what you can do here and what you need to do somewhere else in order to remain a viable company in this community, she said.
The report is available online at

By Mark Sanchez

In opening a regional headquarters in Grand Rapids, Flagstar Bancorp Inc. is laying the groundwork for pursuing a larger share of the already crowded western Michigan banking market.
Well established in its home territory in southeast Michigan, the growing Troy-based Flagstar [NYSE: FBC] will roll out commercial banking products and business loans in western Michigan, and it plans to build up a broader branch network in the years ahead.
Amid a struggling state economy, this region offers the best opportunity for growth in the state, said Steve Nichols, division manager for Flagstar's west Michigan region.
The bank has recorded very good volume growth in the western Michigan market in recent years, leading to the new regional headquarters in Grand Rapids, Nichols said.
Grand Rapids is one of the obvious bright spots in Michigan. It's the area that shows the most promise, he said. This is where we're seeing the growth will come and we're getting ready for that.
The regional headquarters, located on 28th Street and including a new retail branch office, opened March 28.
Flagstar now has 25 offices across a 12-county territory covered by Business Review. The bank as of June 30 had $862.6 million in deposits, or a 3.48 percent market share, ranking 10th out of 62 banks in the 12-county region, according to the FDIC's annual Summary of Deposits.
Flagstar holds market shares in the mid- to low single digits in individual county markets.
With 48 offices, the newly created west Michigan region covers from Lansing to the Lake Michigan shoreline, and from the Indiana state line north to about Ludington.
Known primarily as a residential mortgage lender and retail bank, Flagstar plans to add a commercial lender in Grand Rapids and is changing its focus to include commercial deposits and business loans in western Michigan, Nichols said. Commercial banking presently accounts for a very small percentage of the bank's local business, he said.
The bank last year opened seven new offices in Michigan and plans to add six more in 2007, including the branch opened with the regional headquarters, for a total of 115.
Flagstar will seek to expand its office network further in western Michigan, with plans for an additional branch in 2008 in the Grand Rapids area, where it presently has nine locations. Planning for additional offices is under way, Nichols said.
It's a long-term investment in west Michigan, he said. As we continue to grow in Michigan, the intent is we will grow on the west side of the state more now than the east side.

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