A Grand Valley State University economist found that the West Michigan economy continued to grow in October, but at a slower rate.

GVSU's Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business, surveyed local business leaders during the last two weeks of October.

"Even though the West Michigan economy has flattened, we are still modestly better off than the U.S. economy as a whole," said Long. "As long as sales for auto parts, office furniture and aerospace remain near record levels, the West Michigan economy should continue on the path of slow growth."

Long said automotive parts producers are still near full capacity, although the rate of plant expansion seems to have slowed. He said the office furniture business is still near an all-time high, and local firms are still finding new ways to grow. The aerospace industry is smaller than automotive parts and office furniture, but new orders remain driven by the major players in the industry like Boeing and Airbus.

Long said one weak spot that may be emerging is the capital equipment industry, where foreign competitors are discounting prices because of the softer sales in China and Western Europe. Local industrial distributors reported no major problems.