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Lansing’s Sunny Horizon: Economic outlook appears bright for 2019

As 2018 is coming to a close, one of the most-studied forecasts is the economic outlook for the upcoming year. According to a CNBC article published at the end of summer, the Co…

As 2018 is coming to a close, one of the most-studied forecasts is the economic outlook for the upcoming year. According to a CNBC article published at the end of summer, the Congressional Budget Office projected the U.S. economy to accelerate before slowing in 2019. The growth rate is expected to be well below the Trump administration’s 3 percent target.

While the forecast for the nation’s economy is expected to take a dip, the Lansing area is poised to continue its post-recession comeback.

President and CEO of Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) Bob Trezise said Lansing’s economy is “as hot as it gets,” even in comparison to Detroit’s comeback and Grand Rapids’ thriving arts scene.

“Our region has elevated from No. 98 to No. 21 in the country for gross domestic product (GDP) growth of our high-tech industry,” Trezise said. “We led all of western Michigan in 2017 in GDP growth as a local regional economy, and Lansing was one of only two major cities in the U.S. Census Bureau population growth in 2017 – the other being Grand Rapids.”

As president and CEO of Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tim Daman works closely with the local business community, leaders, public policy, advocacy efforts, infrastructure, talent and meeting the needs of the chamber’s 1,100 members.

“When I access our economy, I look at the number of projects that are in the pipeline,” Daman said. “Right now, when we add up all the development projects throughout our region here, we’re close to – if not over – $3 billion. When I think about the growing and changing economy for our region, I continue to see great optimism.”

Michigan’s second-largest sector is agriculture, and with the new $500 million-plus twin ag-tech complex in St. Johns, Daman believes the future looks good.

“I look at a half a billion dollar investment in the energy area from the Board of Water and Light as they continue to move toward being coal-free by 2025,” Daman said. “Those are significant projects that are going to take place over the next 36-48 months that are going to continue to drive our economy.”

These long-term construction processes, like the developments going in downtown East Lansing, will not only change the skyline of the city, but also influences the economy for decades to come, according to Daman.

“While we’re making decisions and planning projects today, we’re really impacting and affecting the next 20 years of this local economy,” Daman explained.

“It’s very optimistic, with where we’ve come – not only in the past 12 months, but I’d really look at the past 10 years,” Daman said. “We have advanced, we’re growing and we’re seeing population growth in the city of Lansing. Young professionals are looking for that urban type of living environment, and we’ve been able to bring some of those residential units. I think the grocery store that Gillespie Group is doing is going to be significant to continuing those amenities that need to be there for downtown.”

Although some cities cling to a certain industry and profit from one sector, Lansing is a wide-ranging economy, embracing and benefiting from many different avenues.

According to Daman, Lansing is unique in the fact that it is equipped with a variety of sectors, many of which are growing in unique, developing districts. Old Town, REO Town, downtown Lansing and East Lansing all have separate identities, but bringing them together is what will bring even more growth.

“As a region, the importance of bringing communities closer together is so critically important to our economic success,” Daman said. “I think some of the developments you’re seeing in downtown East Lansing and in the corridor are going to be instrumental.

“What’s happening in East Lansing right now is so significant,” he added. “You have a community there that has struggled to really change who they are in their identity. We have some of the largest cranes in the sky this region has seen in the last 30 years, and that’s something to be really celebrated.”

On top of a changing area skyline, McLaren’s hospital and cancer center and urban Meijer grocery store, the city of Lansing also recently announced a new sports opportunity.

“Lansing Mayor Schor announced that Lansing is joining the likes of Toronto and Orlando in landing a new professional soccer team that will play downtown in the Cooley Law School Stadium,” Trezise said.

“We are home to perhaps the world’s largest orthopedic manufacturing sector, and we have a huge, growing aerospace industry. And there are additional industrial plants going up around the region, downtown developments everywhere and more,” Trezise said. “The bottom line is that I believe the Lansing region may contain the state’s single-most diverse economy, and one that is booming.”


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