Newsmakers of the Year

Throughout the year influential people, organizations and developments in our area have had huge impact on our local economic growth and our state’s overall progression.

Many accomplishments should be noted in 2014. Take a look at the $100-million expansion announcement made by Jackson National Life earlier this year. Initial plans included a 260,000 square foot addition adjacent to the existing facility along with an additional 80,000 square-foot Data Imaging Center on the property. This project will bring an estimated 1,000 jobs to our area and will generate significant growth in tax revenue for the city. Jackson is situated close in proximity to several top-tier universities and nearby metropolitan areas for staff recruitment. It was decided by leadership at Jackson that mid-Michigan was the perfect location for this expansion project.

Others have taken advantage of the Lansing comeback as well. Cooley Law Stadium started a $23 million plan to upgrade the facility and develop the outfield while, Michigan State University’s (MSU) Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (F-RIB) is underway and began its construction plans in June and started the building process in July with the first concrete pour. And the historic Knapp’s Building in downtown Lansing also celebrated its grand re-opening in November.

Each of these developments and many more not listed here is why Lansing surpassed Ann Arbor in economic growth. In early 2014, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) released its 2013 Year End Project Report announcing that LEAP projects have helped the private sector create 2,105 direct private sector jobs and $466,824,000 in direct investment for the Lansing area.

Not only is the mid-Michigan area thriving from an economic standpoint, it has garnered some additional milestones in 2014. The MSU Spartans won the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988, winning 24-20 against Stanford. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing), who is term-limited and finished her service to our state in December, spurred a discussion and debate about women’s access to insurance. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan launched Right to Health, a non-profit focusing on women’s health care. It’s mission is to educate and inform women of the laws being passed or considered that could have a negative impact on women. The Right to Health organization will provide facts and information needed in order for individuals to take a stand.

Taking a look back at 2014, newly reelected Governor Rick Snyder has a lot to discuss as well. Detroit is emerging from bankruptcy and Michigan’s legislature is looking at a long-term, comprehensive plan to improve its roads and bridges. This plan will ensure $1.2 billion in additional funding through a proposed constitutional amendment to increase the state sales tax to 7 percent. Additional options that would include changing the 19-cent per gallon gas tax and 15-cent per gallon diesel tax to a wholesale tax. These taxes would increase by 2 percent each year for three years. These changes are subject to a statewide vote.

At the end of December, Gov. Snyder announced the new Department of Talent and Economic Development and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency in an effort to keep Michigan a national leader in talent development and skilled trades. This transition fits with business leaders in our state who are eager to receive additional worker retaining options to fill available jobs and boost the economy, said a recent EPIC-MRA poll.

As 2014 comes to an end, it’s natural to look back, but it’s also an opportunity to look forward.

Sparrow Health System is planning to build a brand new stand-alone cancer center and office building on East Michigan Ave. This building will include a five-story, 132,000 square-foot office building with commercial retail space on the first floor. Sparrow also has plans to build a three-story 73,000 square foot medical office and drive-through pharmacy in the area of Lansing’s Frandor Shopping Center.

In addition, Gillespie Group’s Outfield project is also well underway. Just north of Cooley Law School Stadium, home of the Lansing Lugnuts, this mixed-use building will feature approximately 80 residential units accompanied by approximately 6,000 square-feet of commercial space giving residents spectacular views and a unique, modern living space connected to a ballpark.

With new residents coming to the city, MSU Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) has long-term growth plans as well. In order to meet the demands of its growing membership (an average increase of 5 percent each year), MSUFCU will be constructing a second building on the headquarters’ campus in June. The 186,350 square foot building will be three floors, will include a basement and should accommodate 564 additional employees.

Internal changes for MSUFCU include Patrick McPharlin, president and CEO announced his retirement after 41 years of service and leadership. Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer April Clobes was named his successor in March.

Ron Boji, President at Boji Group and owner of a number of large office buildings in downtown Lansing is rumored to have major plans for a new development in 2015. More information about this announcement will be available in the February issue of GLBM.

An opportunity to tell the state of progress made in our region, 2015 Newsmaker Mayor Virg Bernero will bring back the Lansing-area reception as part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Policy Conference in May 2015. There is much to talk about and the Mayor said it best in the article he wrote last month, “Metro Lansing is ahead of many communities in that we have regionalized our economic development efforts through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, rather than competing with one another as municipal adversaries.”

All Newsmakers should agree that if we are to continue growing locally and on a statewide level, we all must work together to help mid-Michigan realize its full potential.

2014 Newsmakers

Bob Trezise


Gretchen Whitmer


Rick Snyder


April Clobes


Virg Bernero


Patrick Gillespie


Ron Boji


Tom Bres





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