179 New Jobs Coming to West Michigan with Three Business Expansions

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Navico Group expanding production of its Attwood marine products in Lowell, adding 80 jobs; Aspen Surgical Products creating 75 jobs at Caledonia headquarters, builds on state’s work to position itself as a leader in the life sciences and medical device industry; Automation systems provider Koops expanding in Holland, creating 24 jobs


LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced three business expansion projects expected to create a total of 179 new jobs and generate a total capital investment of $40.7 million have received support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The projects are in Lowell, Caledonia Township and Holland.

“Today’s investments will create 179 good-paying jobs and invest more than $40 million into communities in West Michigan, building on our economic momentum,” said Governor Whitmer. “I applaud these three companies for their decision to invest here in Michigan. Let’s keep working together to win projects that bring good-paying jobs to every region of the state. Together, we will keep growing our economy, helping businesses expand, and building a bright future for Michigan.”

“The decisions by these companies to expand in Michigan highlight the strength of our future mobility, life sciences, and advance manufacturing industries, and further demonstrate Team Michigan’s commitment to delivering long-term economic growth for all Michiganders,” said MEDC Sr. Vice President of Regional Prosperity Matt McCauley. “These projects are wins for the entire state. We are grateful to the Governor, legislators of both parties and local officials for their continued support of our efforts. These investments reflect our commitment to ensuring that Michigan becomes an even better place for each of our 10 million-plus friends and neighbors to live, work, visit, play, and create futures. We will continue working to earn investments and support our people as we encourage businesses of all sizes to make it in Michigan.”

Navico Group, a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE:BC) and the world’s leading supplier of integrated systems and products for the marine and RV industries, is investing in its Lowell operations, where it will create two Centers of Excellence in metal fabrication and electrification.


The investment will increase quality, capacity, and efficiency, as well as improve product manufacturing capabilities.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $32.7 million and create 80 jobs with the support of a $480,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites throughout the U.S. and around the world due to the company’s presence and strong employee base in the state.

“We are excited about this investment, which is a significant step in our commitment to being a leader in metal fabrication and electrification for the industries we serve,” said Brett Dibkey, Navico Group President. “The new manufacturing capabilities that we are implementing in the Lowell facility will enhance product development agility and speed-to-market.  We appreciate MEDC’s support and look forward to the positive impact this project will have on both our business and the Michigan economy.”

The metal fabrication Center of Excellence will be equipped with the latest laser and robotic fabrication technology to aid in the development and production of high-quality products for the marine industry.  Most of these products will come to market under the Attwood brand. The new state-of-the-art battery lab and assembly capability will aid in the design and development of custom power solutions for the nearly 20 end-markets that Navico Group serves with brands like Mastervolt and RELiON Battery.

The lab will enable engineers to develop and test end-to-end battery technologies, from bespoke battery management systems to emergent cell chemistries. The establishment of this battery facility will bolster the global expansion of Navico Group’s electrification efforts and become the second electrification Center of Excellence in addition to the company’s Amsterdam facility.

“The decision by Navico to expand its manufacturing capabilities to enhance its Attwood product line in Michigan underscores our state’s leadership in future mobility and electrification, and demonstrates our commitment to continue prioritizing the development of sustainable, accessible mobility solutions for air, land, and water,” said Michigan’s Chief Mobility Officer Justine Johnson. “We’re pleased to join our local partners in supporting this expansion, and look forward to working with the company as it helps play a key role in Michigan’s comprehensive approach to mobility solutions development.”

The project will bring immediate, well-paying jobs to the region with a large and expanding recreational marine supplier and will help secure the company’s continued presence and future investment in Michigan.

“The Right Place is thrilled to have been a partner in Navico Group’s Attwood expansion,” said Olivia Lanctot, business development manager at The Right Place and project lead. “This expansion is going to allow them to bolster their R&D efforts, paving the way for new innovations in marine mobility. Their commitment to staying and growing in our region proves that Greater Grand Rapids is the place to be for advanced manufacturing & technology companies. We’re excited to see what comes next for them.”

In addition to supporting the state’s work to position itself as the global leader in future mobility and electrification, the project also boosts the state’s sustainability efforts, as green efforts are also a large focus at the Lowell facility. It is the first Navico Group site to reach zero-waste-to-landfill status, meaning 90 percent of its waste materials are being recycled, reused, or otherwise eliminated.

The city of Lowell anticipates approval of a 12-year, 50-percent tax abatement in support of the project. Information on careers with Navico Group/Attwood can be found here.

“The city of Lowell is looking forward to continue supporting Navico Group with their Attwood expansion,” said Lowell City Manager Mike Burns. “The city council always wants to find ways to see businesses come into our city, continue to grow and stay. We are pleased that a long-time corporation in our community wants to continue investing their business in our community.”

The project also highlights Michigan’s travel and tourism industries. Michigan is the third-largest marine market in the country and ranks No. 3 in boat registrations. Boating has a $11.7 billion economic impact on Michigan’s economy each year, supporting more than 45,000 jobs and 1,500 businesses (source: Michigan Boating Industries Association).

“Michigan’s outdoor recreation economy is tied to our beautiful outdoor places and also to our industry-leading capabilities in technology and product innovation,” said Michigan Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Executive Director Brad Garmon. “We’re excited to celebrate Navico Group’s expansion in Lowell as they build on the state’s deep heritage of marine manufacturing, and we look forward to partnering with them to drive the global recreational boating industry.”

According to new federal data on the outdoor recreation economy, Michigan is gaining momentum in outdoor recreation-based manufacturing like boat building. The state saw a 35 percent growth in value added to GDP from outdoor recreation manufacturing from 2019 to 2022, and ranked fourth nationally in outdoor manufacturing employment growth (7 percent) and outdoor manufacturing compensation growth (12 percent) from 2021-2022.

Aspen Surgical Products, a leading manufacturer of surgical essentials and infection control products is expanding at its headquarters in Caledonia Township.

The company recently joined Symmetry Surgical to offer an expanded portfolio of trusted products essential to surgery, with enhanced efficiency and convenience from prep to close.

These portfolios provide clinicians with tools and trusted brands to advance the perioperative experience including Bard-Parker®, WriteSite®, Bookwalter®, Bovie,® and Olsen®. The company employs more than 225 Michiganders at its headquarters facility.

In October 2022, Aspen acquired Symmetry Surgical, a leading healthcare technology and solutions supplier of high-quality surgical instruments based in Nashville, Tenn. With this acquisition, the company plans to consolidate its warehousing and distribution centers into a leased space adjacent to its headquarters in Caledonia Township, where it will make upgrades to the building as well as add equipment and machinery.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $5 million and create 75 well-paying jobs with the support of a $600,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. Michigan was chosen for the project over Symmetry Surgical’s existing operations in Nashville due to the company’s strong existing employee base and world-class headquarters facility.

"We are excited to partner with the state of Michigan to announce the growth of our headquarters and the upcoming opening of our new expanded distribution center in Caledonia,” said Aspen Surgical Products CEO Steve Blazejewski. “This expansion is a testament to Aspen Surgical’s growth and success, as well as our commitment to providing exceptional service to our customers across the healthcare continuum. With over 131,000 square feet of storage space and improved technology, the new distribution center will allow us to better meet our customers’ needs and provide a streamlined experience across the Aspen and Symmetry market-leading brands such as Bookwalter®, Bard-Parker®, and Bovie®.”

This project highlights the state’s efforts to position Michigan as a leader in the life sciences and medical device industry, further helping to make Michigan a top-tier location for life sciences development and manufacturing. It will also solidify the company’s presence and future investment in the state.

The Right Place plans to assist the company in finding candidates for the newly created positions. Aspen offers competitive pay, various shift opportunities, and most benefits starting on the first day of employment. Information on career opportunities with Aspen Surgical can be found at https://www.aspensurgical.com/careers/.

“Aspen Surgical has been a cornerstone of our region's medical device community since 1999," said Eric Icard, Senior Director of Business Development at The Right Place and project lead. "This expansion reflects not only their success but also contributes to the overall prosperity of our region. Working alongside them and seeing their continued growth is truly gratifying.”

Koops, Inc., a provider of machine design and integration services, plans to expand at its existing facility in the city of Holland.

Koops specializes in factory automation systems, designing and building assembly machines and automated equipment for a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, life science, and battery. The company currently employs 244 Michiganders.

Koops’ customers continue to increase their usage of automation, and as a result, it needs to expand its footprint in Michigan which would allow the company to work on larger scale projects. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $3 million and create 24 jobs with the support of a $250,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The company chose Michigan over a competing site in South Carolina for this strategic project.

“This facility expansion is part of increasing Koops' machining, fabrication, and logistics capacity, which is critical to Koops' methodical and strategic growth plans,” said Koops Director of Strategic Growth, Eric Steenwyk.

The project would bring immediate advanced manufacturing jobs to the region and would solidify the company’s presence and future business in the state. Koops has expanded four times in Holland, including the construction of its first Holland facility, and an expansion of that building in 2018. Both projects were supported with MSF funds, and the company has met all performance requirements of the grant agreements.

The city of Holland anticipates approval of a property tax abatement in support of the project. Information on careers with Koops can be found here.

"Lakeshore Advantage is thrilled to celebrate yet another expansion by Koops Automation Systems” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “Their continued investment in the lakeshore region goes to show how much they believe in the incredible talent and many assets this community has to offer. We are grateful for the opportunity to step alongside Koops as they navigate growth and continue to bring good-paying jobs to West Michigan’s lakeshore.”

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 www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.