Up North: Lake, Newaygo, Osceola & Mecosta | West Michigan Photo Project

When someone says, “a little town up north”, everyone has a different idea of what you mean.

For folks in West Michigan “Up North” includes towns like Newaygo, Reed City, Fremont and many others.

Living and working in a “small town up north” doesn’t mean limited opportunity for residents however. Some of the largest manufacturers in the world have setup shop (and continue to expand) in the rural counties north of Grand Rapids.

Combine with expanding opportunity with the lower cost of living (housing, food, taxes, etc), you might just find your own little piece of rural heaven “Up North”.

Lake County

If you’re a fan of fishing and hunting, Lake County is the spot you need to visit. The Pere Marquette River dominates the world of trout fishing. Because of the rural community, small business and events dominate the economic landscape.

Stealthcraft Boats

Looking for a drift boat? Don’t know what a drift boat is? It’s a specialized boat that does not have a motor. It simply “drifts” down the river for the best possible fishing experience. Founder Mike Batcke has formed a team of 25+ staff that build boats for customers around the globe (they were building one for someone in Argentina while I was on site).

Brown Trout Sculpture

Baldwin, Michigan has the largest brown trout sculpture in the world. Standing at 25 feet tall, it was built and installed in 2018 to pay tribute to the importance of fishing in the local community.


Since fishing is such an important part of the Lake County community, why not host a festival to celebrate all things “Trout” related?

Well that’s exactly what Troutarama is and there is something for everyone including a kid’s fishing competition, a horse power pull, grand parade and the “famous” Scottville Clown Band.

Newaygo County

Newaygo County brings together international business, water sports and all kinds of “Americana”. Large manufacturing continues to grow in the area and the Croton and Hardy Dams continue to provide water entertainment throughout the year on the Muskegon River.


With over 60 years of automotive manufacturing under it’s belt, Magna calls Newaygo it’s home for it’s Mirror division. With over 500 employees at this facility alone, this Newaygo County manufacturer ships its products across the globe.

Bucher Hydraulics

Ever been on a tractor with a hydraulic system? If so, more than likely Swiss manufacturer Bucher Hydraulics was the one who made the actual parts and hydraulic unit.

From automotive to office furniture, Bucher in Newaygo provides jobs for 125+ employees and they continue to expand.

Downtown Newaygo

The Muskegon River flows through downtown Newaygo and creates opportunity for fishing, tubing and other water sports. The downtown area continues to grow year after year, but the summer months see an influx of visitors coming to the area for fun on the river.

Gerber Food Festival (Aka The National Baby Food Festival)

Gerber, the company that is famous for baby food has it’s origins in Fremont, Michigan. That means in the summer months, they sponsor a citywide festival that brings out the best in the community.

Osceola County

The county furthest north in the West Michigan Photo Project has Reed City as it’s main economic hub. Though the area is rural, it does house several large businesses that continue to drive the economic growth of the community.

Reed City Group

An injection molding manufacturer, Reed City Group creates world class high performance molds (for the tool and die industry) and industry-leading hydraulic presses. In business since 1959, Reed City Group is a staple in the community when it comes to manufacturing.

Reed City Depot

Recently renovated and updated by the Reed City Chamber of Commerce, the Reed City Depot serves as offices and rental space for events. The Depot is located where the White Pine Bike Trail and the Pere Marquette Trail intersect, providing bikers with a central hub on which to navigate between trail systems.

Mecosta County

With 100+ lakes, rivers and streams; with the Muskegon and Little Muskegon rivers winding their way through, Mecosta county is an outdoor adventurers spot. Anchored by Big Rapids and home to Ferris State University, the business community continues to thrive.

Ferris State University

With 14,000+ students, Ferris State offers small class sizes (average 16:1 student to teacher ratio) and having professors teach classes (rather than graduate students), Ferris State University is the 9th largest university in the state.

This is part 5 of our 5 part series about the Michigan Pure Business Photo Project. To see learn more about the West Michigan Regional Photo Project, click the link below.

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