Gov. Whitmer Announces 148 New High-tech, Manufacturing Jobs in Grand Rapids, Grand Traverse County

Thursday, October 12, 2023

• Payload CMS announcing expansion in Grand Rapids, creating up to 55 high-tech new jobs • Earfab Americas expanding, diversifying in Grawn, creating up to 93 new manufacturing jobs

LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to announce two expansion projects in Kent and Grand Traverse counties. The expansions, representing $3,615,000 in capital investment and the creation of 148 jobs, have received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“Today’s expansion by two homegrown Michigan companies is further proof that Michigan is on the move and open for business,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “We are bringing supply chains home from overseas, creating high-tech, good-paying jobs in Michigan communities, and experiencing record-high economic growth. I applaud Payload CMS and Earfab Americas for their decision to invest here in Michigan, and I am committed to helping more individuals, families, and businesses make it in Michigan.”

“Grand Rapids and Traverse City continue to prove that high-tech talent and innovation is woven into Michigan’s culture, no matter where you are in the state,” said MEDC Sr. Vice President of Regional Prosperity Matt McCauley. “We remain proud to work with companies that are making a difference by bringing job creation and providing economic support, proving that Making it in Michigan is the right choice.”

Payload CMS, Inc. provides a content management solution and application framework that allows enterprise engineering and marketing teams to build and manage digital content at scale. Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Grand Rapids, the company currently has 10 full-time employees. The Silicon Valley-funded start-up includes investors ranging from Google to the Grand Rapids-based venture capital firm Grand Ventures and was also accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator startup accelerator.

Payload is experiencing significant growth with their products being used by a wide variety of companies, therefore, the company plans to expand an existing garage attached to its current office space in Grand Rapids, where it will add 1,600 square feet to house additional employees.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $875,000 and create 55 high-wage jobs with the support of a $302,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The company chose Michigan for the expansion over competing sites in California, Florida, and New York because of its existing talent base and the strength of Grand Rapids as a leading location for tech companies to expand and grow.

The project supports a business in the target industries of tech and professional and corporate services and fosters high-wage job growth. The project will bring immediate, high-wage tech jobs to the region, further growing the high-tech ecosystem in Grand Rapids and will help solidify the company’s presence and future business in Michigan.

The Right Place has offered staff time and resources in support of the project. For information on careers with Payload CMS, visit their website.

“Payload is the tip of the spear that is turning Grand Rapids into the tech hub of the Midwest and putting this region’s technological prowess on the map globally,” said James Mikrut, CEO of Payload CMS. “While the coasts are traditionally viewed as being more entrepreneurial in the tech space, we've built an amazing team from the ground up in Michigan, where we believe there is a strong pool of high-potential creatives who want to work on highly technical products, and we're going to find them. We look forward to leveraging our partnership with the MEDC and The Right Place to help us offset some of the challenges of scouting and retaining world-class talent right here in Grand Rapids. We’re grateful that our goals are being recognized and supported by our community. West Michigan has been my home for some time, and – coupled with all the up-and-coming development projects nearby – choosing the Westside for our headquarters was an easy decision.”

“Payload CMS is a tech startup that has shown considerable growth here in Grand Rapids, helping cement the region’s prowess in this space. We are incredible honored to welcome the company’s new HQ here in Grand Rapids, and excited to see their continued growth,” said Jono Klooster, Interim Economic Development Director, City of Grand Rapids.

“I remain dedicated to supporting initiatives that promote economic growth and first-rate job opportunities throughout the district,” said state Representative Carol Glanville (D-Walker). “Grand Rapids continues to demonstrate strong growth. And with support from the MEDC, companies like Payload CMS are able to advance their commitment to and investment in the area. I am excited about this partnership and the positive impact the expansion will have on our community.”

“Payload CMS is a rapidly growing company that could choose to expand into better-known high-tech ecosystems but remains committed to the City of Grand Rapids,” said Jennifer Wangler, Vice President of Technology at The Right Place. “It’s validating to hear that our region’s commitment to being on the global technology stage is a big reason for Payload’s decision to expand here.”

Earfab Americas, a new joint venture between Traverse City-based Altus Brands, LLC, and Denmark-based Earfab ApS, have joined forces to manufacture custom-made ear protection for private labels and OEMs. This dynamic project will help expand the capabilities of this company and bolster the region with a robust workforce in the key sector of manufacturing.

The company is looking to make a production pivot to increase profitability which will result in the purchase and installation of new injection molding machines. The footprint of the project will expand to 15,000 square feet including production, packing, shipping, the construction of offices, parking, and employee lounge.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $2,740,000 and create up to 93 new jobs with the support of a $575,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The company has chosen Green Lake Township, Grawn over a competing site in Tampa, FL.

In addition to MSF support, Northwest Michigan Works! has pledged to offer up to $185,612 in workforce development and training support.

"Working with the MEDC has been a true pleasure. Their guidance on the grant process helped us to secure the funding necessary to convince earfab ApS, a Danish technology company, to locate the North American operations in Traverse City. Earfab combines AI, additive manufacturing and IoT to produce customized in-ear pieces for hearing protection, hearing aids and music devices, at scale,” said Gary Lemanski, President of Earfab Americas, Inc. “We anticipate creating close to 100 new high-tech jobs in our Grawn facility over the next three years. Northwest Michigan Works! will be instrumental in providing critical support to hire and train the people we need for our success. This is an outstanding example of how our state helps small businesses grow."

"At Networks Northwest and Northwest Michigan Works! we are excited to welcome the Altus Brands LLC and Earfab ApS partnership to Northwest Lower Michigan,” noted Terry Vandercook, CEO, Networks Northwest. “Altus Brand LLC has a long history of being an employer of choice in the region. The creation of such a significant number of living wage jobs will positively impact economic prosperity in the local area, the region, and the state."

“Altus Brands new venture with Earfab is another example of Michigan’s leadership in the outdoor recreation economy and Grand Traverse County’s globally competitive manufacturing sector,” said Warren Call, president and CEO of Traverse Connect. “With the creation of more than 90 family-sustaining jobs, this investment will support the continued growth of our high-skilled and technologically-advanced workforce, strengthening our regional economy.”

“Michigan is continuing to prioritize economic development and job creation, and I’m thrilled to see these efforts and crucial investments happening right here in Michigan’s 103rd House District,” said state Representative Betsy Coffia (D-Traverse City).

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.