Job loss in West Michigan mixed with fraction of growth

Posted at 6:56 PM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 19:07:02-05

WEST MICHIGAN -- A number of businesses around West Michigan announced layoffs and closures recently while some companies announced growth.

Today, FOX 17 learned GE Aviation is laying off 74 engineers. Company spokesperson Richard Gorham confirmed this is affecting the Cascade Township facility.

Retailer Kmart closed two locations in December. One store was in Plainfield Township and the other was in Byron Center.

SAF Holland, which makes truck and trailer parts, recently announced it will close its Holland and Muskegon plants. That affects 230 people. Kellogg's is laying off 250 people in North America and said the majority work at the headquarters in Battle Creek.

Sears at the Woodland Mall is also slated to close. The Sears announcement came the same week Macy’s cut 6,200 jobs nationwide at 68 stores. That includes Lakeview Square Mall in Battle Creek.

However, General Motors brings some good news. This week, the company announced it plans to add 7,000 jobs in the U.S., including 450 axle jobs in Michigan. It's not known if these jobs are coming to West Michigan or not.

The Right Place, an economic development firm, works closely with the manufacturing and information technology sectors.

"We, as economic developers, expect a certain amount of uncertainty and volatility. As a matter of fact, there are a number of projects we're working on and many of them are being delayed. Not all of them, but many of them," Birgit Klohs with The Right Place said.

Klohs said a changing political landscape often has an influence on sectors like manufacturing.

"We don't know what trade agreements are going to be renegotiated whether it's NAFTA or whatever it is. West Michigan is a huge exporter both of manufactured goods as well as food process goods," Klohs explained.

More good news on the jobs front: Klohs said a high-tech company is planning to open in Caledonia and will provide 25 jobs.

Art Van Furniture said people looking for sales or delivery driver positions are welcome to apply.