Grand Rapids Regains Manufacturing Glory
The Midwest is known for its friendly, welcoming people. As it turns out, it’s developing a renowned reputation for its open-arms job market as well.
Human resource consulting firm ManpowerGroup just put Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the top of its Q3 2017 Employment Outlook Survey, and they’re not the only ones taking a closer look at the manufacturing boom-town. Forbes recently listed Grand Rapids as the number-one U.S. city for raising a family and for manufacturing job growth.
Many of these accolades are thanks to the city’s uniquely diverse and burgeoning manufacturing sector.
In an industrial region known as the “rust belt,” this may come as a surprise to some. However, according to the Forbes article, with impressive statistics like a 5.4% job growth rate in 2016 and an unemployment rate of 3.3%, there’s no denying Grand Rapids is leading a manufacturing revival.
The advantages of diversity
So, what is it about Grand Rapids that sets it apart from other industrial regions? Primarily, it’s the diversity of businesses that call the city home.
Before this boom, Grand Rapids’ golden era was securely rooted in furniture manufacturing. When orders dried up after the stock market crash in 1925, America’s “Furniture City” floundered as manufacturers were forced to shut their doors. Later, troubles in the automotive industry affected Michigan and surrounding regions.
However, unlike nearby areas, Grand Rapids manufacturers rebounded by diversifying the city’s production portfolio. According to the Forbes article, Grand Rapids’ industrial work force has grown by 29% to 110,800 workers since 2010. And while the city is still home to its fair share of auto parts and furniture manufacturers, it also has food, aerospace, defense, and health care companies on its roster.
Good news for manufacturers
With such a wide array of offerings, the city is attracting laborers and skilled workers from all regions and backgrounds. Adding to its appeal is the fact that, in addition to vast numbers of eager employers, Grand Rapids boasts a low cost of living as well as highly touted schools and medical facilities, making it an ideal place to live.
Grand Rapids locals can see the benefits of industrial competition and soaring employment rates in their above-average population and birth rate booms. However, this good fortune offers some positive lessons for the manufacturing industry as a whole. With a little diversity, flexibility, and adaptability, manufacturing can be a lucrative endeavor — not only for those looking for jobs but also for those who are interested in providing them.