Strategically located on Michigan’s west shoreline, Muskegon is an old economic powerhouse dating back to the mid-19th century. The economic strength was then driven by lumber and shipping. As the 20th century unfolded, lumber declined and was replaced by diverse manufacturing, with good access to auto markets to the east and a number of major manufacturing markets across Lake Michigan. As a manufacturing center specializing in foundries and machining, the area declined somewhat in the last half of the 20th century but has enjoyed a resurgence due to its attractive summer climate and extensive water and beach amenities.
Tourism is big in the area. Developmental zones and new industrial parks have attracted some new business to the area, and employment is on the upswing. The new prosperity has brought improvements to the schools and downtown. Endowments have supported some above-average arts amenities. Michigan’s Adventure, supposedly the largest amusement park in the state, adds entertainment and tourist appeal. The area is on the upswing and the cost of living is low, but some may not like the climate. Additional city services are available in Grand Rapids 30 miles southeast or in Chicago 3 ½ hours southwest. Milwaukee and Chicago are also accessible by the Lake Express high-speed ferry, a nice 2 ½ hour ride that is a bit expensive. Norton Shores is a mainly residential community with some industry and agriculture presence, 5 miles southwest.
Muskegon is located on the Lake Michigan shore at the mouth of the Muskegon River, about 100 miles north of the southern tip of the lake. The area is flat with coastal grasslands, marshes and sand dunes giving way to forested hills to the north. The climate.is continental and heavily influenced by Lake Michigan. Summer days are mostly cool and breezy with pleasant evenings and some thunderstorms. The lake effect prolongs spring and fall, giving gorgeous fall seasons especially in the hardwood forests to the north. Fall and winter can be especially cloudy, and the location along the lake brings frequent clouds, winds, and snow. However, bitter cold outbreaks are less frequent than in Wisconsin or central parts of Michigan. Persistent clouds may break for days at a time when cool, dry air arrives from the north. First freeze is early October, last is May 1.