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The economies of Michigan: Niles-Benton Harbor

By the numbers

$6.2 billion

Size of local economy, 2013


Percent economic growth, 2012-2013.


Rank, among 14 metropolitan
regions in Michigan, in terms
of one-year growth


Rank, among 382 metropolitan
regions in country, in terms of one-year change in GDP


Rank, among 14 Michigan regions,
in overall economic size


Rank nationally, in terms of economic size.
(The region, comprised of Berrien County,
has nearly 156,000 people, ranking 258th in population.)

The Business Buzz

This small region in southwestern Michigan enjoyed the second highest annual increase in regional GDP in Michigan at 4.5 percent in 2013.

The most significant gain occurred in the manufacturing sector of durable goods - items like household appliances, machinery and automobiles. The sector rose 12.5 percent from 2012 and it reached the highest output in the last 14 years. That's a 7.2 percent increase from 2007. Finance and insurance sector saw a gain of 7.7 percent and construction grew by nearly 6 percent. Real estate and rental and leasing fell 6.3 percent to $517 million, one fourth less than 2007.

Victoria Pratt, president and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance, a Berrien County economic development organization, said local business leaders have good news to share..

“What we are hearing is that their orders are up. Their sales are up. They are working at much higher levels in the past year than they have in the three or four years prior to that,” Pratt said. “There are manufacturers in tool and die, plastics, mold-makers who are very busy.

The bad news? “They have a high-class, woe-is-me problem. Now, woe is me is, 'I'm running out of workers. I'm running out of space,'” she said.

Top 10 industries: Region awash in big gains

The Niles-Benton Harbor's economy is dominated by manufacturing, including appliance maker Whirlpool, a sector that recorded a nearly 12-percent climb from 2012 to 2013. Manufacturing comprises nearly a third the economy.

Sector 2013 GDP
(in $ millions)
Percent of economy Peak year Change (2013)
from peak
Change from 2007 Change from 2012
Manufacturing $1,946 31.5% 2010 -0.3% 4.3% 11.6%
Government $658 10.6% 2008 -7.9% -1.6% -2.7%
Educational services, health care, and social assistance $589 9.5% 2006 -23% -24.6% -2%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing $587 9.5% 2013 0% 4.6% 2.4%
Professional and business services $394 6.4% 2013 0% 10% 2.5%
Retail trade $367 5.9% 2003 -14.4% -5.5% 0%
Wholesale trade $250 4% 2004 -14.4% -3.1% 3.7%
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services $200 3.2% 2005 -6.9% -2.6% 3.8%
Construction $157 2.5% 2001 -37.7% -25.5% 5.7%
Other services, except government $138 2.2% 2001 -32.8% -34.4% -6.7%

Although it's not an "industry" by federal definition, government services were included in the list.

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