Since 2010, Lakeshore Advantage has compiled an annual report on the economic outlook of Ottawa County. This year, it decided to enlist other agencies to add data from Muskegon and Allegan counties.

The 2017 West Michigan Lakeshore Region Business Intelligence report found the Allegan-Muskegon-Ottawa region outpaces the U.S. Midwest in business growth, sales, research and development by wide margins.

The lakeshore also scored higher for community strengths, such as quality of life, employee work ethic and business climate.

Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage, said her organization agreed to collaborate with counterparts in the other two counties at their requests.

“We have a very strong regional collaborative, and Ed Garner, who actually just left Muskegon Area First, realized this was a valuable tool and wanted to extend it to Muskegon,” she said. “We also got a heads-up from Allegan County and they said, ‘Yeah, we want to be in, too.’ Then the Grand Haven chamber wanted in, too.

“They collected their data, then provided it back to us, and we analyzed it.”

The expanded geographical footprint allowed for comparison of the West Michigan Lakeshore Region to the U.S. Midwest, defined in the report as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

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