One in five Muskegon County jobs are tied to its blue water economy, which capitalizes on 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Water Supply for Agriculture and Manufacturing
Muskegon County’s vast water resources are vital to luring high-paying agricultural and manufacturing companies. In addition, farmers have plenty of water resources to irrigate their land, and manufacturers have available water to cool machinery, generate steam and carry out many industrial processes.
Abundant Fresh Water for Research
Muskegon houses the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI), a research organization under the umbrella of nearby Grand Valley State University. AWRI scientists study water systems such as Lake Michigan, Muskegon Lake and White Lake. The scientists do ecological research and various aquatic science projects to bolster and preserve freshwater resources here and beyond.
Deepwater Port & Five Commercial Dock Facilities
The Port of Muskegon handles more than 1 million tons of freight, aggregate, coal and salt every year, with the port doing business on Muskegon Lake that connects to Lake Michigan. The port has five commercial docking facilities. The largest bulk commodities shipped into Muskegon are limestone, cement and slag used in the construction industry. Those goods shipped into Muskegon mainly serve industries throughout West Michigan.
Twelve recreational marinas operate on Muskegon Lake, and eight marinas are on White Lake. In addition, Muskegon Lake has more than 20 charter fishing operations, and White Lake has 12. Water recreation opportunities abound, and all kinds of companies are moving here as a result. For example, Hemisphere Design Works, the largest manufacturer of kayaks in the world, moved its headquarters to Muskegon in 2018.
During warm weather months, Lake Express Ferry carries passengers from Milwaukee to Muskegon and vice versa in just 2 1/2 hours. The 80-mile trip across Lake Michigan also allows passengers to transport their cars or motorcycles, thereby providing easy connections to major interstates once docked — all while avoiding Chicago traffic congestion. Spacious first-class cabins are available to rent during voyages, and most pets are welcome.
Muskegon’s clean freshwater beaches attract tourists, and many arrive aboard cruise ships. The large vessels travel along Lake Michigan and then dock on Muskegon Lake, via the ships Aquastar, Pearl Mist, Victory Cruise Lines and Le Champlain. Aquastar is the most popular cruise ship used by passengers to and from Muskegon, while Pearl Mist always docks at Heritage Landing, which serves as a spacious park and outdoor event venue.