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East Lansing-based Netvantage Marketing sees promise in Grand Rapids, opens satellite office

The leaders of East Lansing's Netvantage Marketing say their backgrounds in consulting gave them a desire to move web-based marketing from the sterile realm of the Internet to the more personal environment of face-to-face meetings with clients. That desire prompted the duo, Adam Henige and Joe Ford, to open a satellite office in Grand Rapids to be closer to clients here.

The new office is on the third floor above San Chez A Tapas Bistro (38 W. Fulton St., Suite 301). It's part of a group of offices under development by CWD Real Estate Investment that have private offices and shared conference rooms and a kitchen, says Henige.

Netvantage hopes construction will wrap up for an early April opening. An East Lansing employee will relocate to Grand Rapids and staff the office.

Netvantage Marketing specializes in search engine optimization, social media consulting and paid search management, says Ford. "With most of our clients, the key overarching statement we hear is 'when someone Googles our service, we don't come up,'" he says.

"We've found that a lot of people are really good at developing websites, but not good at directing people to them," says Henige. So, the company focuses on helping other companies build a web presence. If web design and development are needed, Netvantage collaborates with local companies who specialize in those services.

The client list for the four-year-old company is impressive and varied, including: Autocam Medical, DTE Energy, Hyundai, Suzuki, General Motors, University of California Berkeley and Gordon Food Service.

"We've been able to get national clients that we've never met, but we really like to give it the personal touch," Henige says. "To be able to sit down in someone's space or walk through it is one of the reasons we've been so successful so far."

Source: Adam Henige and Joe Ford, Netvantage Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Haven's new Splattered Ink Press helps budding authors self-publish, market their books

You've spent months, maybe years, writing your book and now what? Shove it in a drawer and forget about it? Splattered Ink Press has another idea -- publish it yourself and control how the finished product looks, the marketing, and maybe make a profit.

Tricia McDonald, owner of Splattered Ink Press and the writing school A Writing Passage, both based in Grand Haven, has self-published two books and has a third one out next week. She says Splattered Ink Press is a natural outcome of her five years as a writing coach.

"As I worked with writers, they asked if [self-publishing] was a service I would offer," McDonald says. "The more I thought about it, the more I realized I could help them get their books printed and on the shelves of some local book stores."

McDonald coaches writers throughout the writing process. She offers manuscript editing, book design and text formatting to prepare the book for printing, secures ISBNs and bar codes, and works with half a dozen Michigan printers who can print and bind hardcover or softcover editions. She teaches them how to approach book stores to get their book on the shelves and arrange book signings. McDonald also offers e-book conversions for download on Kindles, iPads and other e-readers.

Splattered Ink contracts with Grand Rapids illustrator Sean Wallace and with graphic designer and photographer Jacob Kubon, McDonald's son, who create visuals for book covers, inside pages and children's books.

"Traditional publishers are more likely going with celebrity names or established authors," McDonald says. "Print-on-demand authors have to buy their own books from the printer, and they end up making very little money per book. We offer a real personable experience; we're not just an online experience where the author doesn't get to talk to anyone."

To-date, Splattered Ink has produced McDonald's Life With Sally - Still Spinnin' Tails and her upcoming book on novel writing, Quit Whining Start Writing. She says she's working with six clients to get their books published, including a novel of historical fiction, two children's books, a memoir and Dog 281, by Michigan writer Janet Vormittag, editor of Cats and Dogs Magazine.

McDonald will speak on writing and self-publishing at the West Michigan Women's Expo on March 9, 10 and 11.

Source: Tricia McDonald, Splattered Ink Press and A Writing Passage
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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It may not be paradise, but Grand Rapids' Creston area will have its own islands

When we think of islands with trees fluttering in the breeze and lots of water, we probably don't picture Grand Rapids' Creston business district. But after receiving a $146,667 Transportation Enhancement grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Creston is moving forward with plans to bring seven water quality islands (with trees) to its main thoroughfare.

Seven small water-retention islands with trees and native plants will be located at intervals down the center of Plainfield Avenue NE, between Leonard and Dean streets. The islands will create a boulevard and will serve several purposes: to capture and retain stormwater runoff to keep pollutants from running into the Grand River, to slow traffic through the business district, to make the area pedestrian-friendly and to beautify the business district in order to attract shoppers and new businesses.

The islands will be installed this summer in conjunction with a sewer separation and resurfacing project, says Creston Neighborhood Association Executive Director Deborah Eid.

"This particular design for boulevards is unique," Eid says. "This is the only project in the state, as far as I know, that has these islands, so we could get some statewide attention from that."

Eid says the City of Grand Rapids, Creston Neighborhood and Business Associations, and The North Quarter Steering Committee worked together to incorporate construction of the water quality islands into MDOT's plan for resurfacing the roadway. The work is part of the larger master plan for the Creston area and fulfills some of the vision of the Green Grand Rapids plan.

In order to qualify for the MDOT grant, community partners raised some $158,000 in just 40 days, which includes funding of a 20-year endowment fund for maintenance of the islands.

The public is invited to a meeting and pancake breakfast to discuss the project with city engineers and a landscape designer from Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, the company handling the landscape design. The meeting is March 10, 8:30 to 11:00 a.m., Second Congregational Church, 525 Cheshire Dr. NE. Adults: $6; Kids 5 to 12 yrs. $3; 4 yrs. and under FREE. Family price: $15.

Source: Deborah Eid, Creston Neighborhood Association
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Goodwill launches upscale resale boutiques in East Hills and downtown Grand Rapids

These aren't your grandmother's Goodwill Stores. These are upscale resale shops that will showcase a definitive fashion sense and boutique style.

Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, Inc. has plans to launch two new boutiques that will show off some of the hip new and gently used items donated to the resale giant, including merchandise that has been repurposed and upcycled. The stores, called blue, will open in April in downtown Grand Rapids' MoDiv (40 Monroe Center Ave. NW) and in East Hills (974 Cherry St. SE) with a focus on women's vintage and retro designer apparel, shoes, jewelry and home décor.

"When customers walk in, they'll be blown away by what we have to offer and the look and feel of the shops," says Goodwill's Chief Communications Officer Jill Wallace. "The blue boutiques will have new apparel mixed in as well, and the apparel will have a more chic-funky-glam look. We're really looking for the market to be women between ages 20 and 40."

Wallace says this is Goodwill's first foray into the boutique business. While the merchandise will have slightly higher prices than the traditional Goodwill Stores, the stores will have bargains and all proceeds will go to fund Goodwill's workforce training and placement programs.

"Last year, we placed about 1,300 people [in jobs], and the higher [sales] margins bring more money in for these programs," Wallace says. "Goodwill is one of the world's largest recyclers of textiles through reselling, diverting five million pounds of textiles, including shoes, from Grand Rapids-area landfills every year.

"I think the boutiques will open people's minds to what you can find at any Goodwill store," she says.

Wallace says she expects both stores to open mid-April and says grand opening events are being planned.

Source: Jill Wallace, Goodwill Industries
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Free-market group, Acton Institute, buys downtown Grand Rapids' "WMCAT Building" for new HQ

The downtown Grand Rapids building often known as the "Wim-CAT Building" will soon undergo a facelift and transformation that will meet the needs of its new owner, the Acton Institute.

The Acton Institute, a faith-based proponent of free-market economies worldwide, will relocate from leased space in the Waters Building to the historic two-story structure on the corner of Fulton St. NE and Sheldon Blvd. The building's current tenants, West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), will continue to occupy the building's second level. Acton Institute will move into the main level and basement.

"We're growing internationally and domestically, and have over 40 staff, so this means we will have space for meetings, technology and lectures," says John Couretas, director of communications. "We also have an office in Rome and affiliates in Brazil, Austria, Zambia and Argentina, so we're doing events all over the world and a lot of that is managed from Grand Rapids."

Design plans are in the beginning stages, but Couretas says the space will include a multi-purpose meeting and lecture space, as well as accommodations for Acton's documentary and video curricula, in addition to office space. He expects the new location will provide room for educational events for students, seminarians and clergy who enroll in Acton's programs, as well as enough space for future growth. Couretas says the institute's largest event, Acton University, attracted 625 participants from 69 countries to Grand Rapids in 2011.

"We wanted to stay downtown and invest in downtown Grand Rapids, and this was an ideal place for us," Couretas says. "Obviously, we're going to be one of many organizations and investors that are helping Grand Rapids create a vibrant downtown for the future. That's an effort where there's a lot of shared activity going on. It's a much bigger picture when you look at downtown as a whole, and we're big believers in the downtown of Grand Rapids."

A construction start date has not been determined.

Architect: Via Design
Construction manager: Pioneer Construction

Source: John Couretas, Acton Institute
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Trillium Haven Farm eyes Grand Rapids' Eastown for fresh-produce restaurant

The owners of Jenison-based Trillium Haven Farm are making drastic changes to their Community Supported Agriculture operations in order to open a new farm-to-table eatery in Grand Rapids' Eastown.

The restaurant, called simply Trillium Haven, could open at 1429 Lake Dr. SE in the Kingsley Building this June with a focus on bringing seasonal fresh vegetables to customers through both the items on the menu and boxes of fresh veggies CSA members will pick up at the restaurant.

Husband and wife team Michael VanderBrug and Anja Mast currently serve some 450 farm members, who prepay for organic produce and pick it up from the farm weekly, June through October. The couple will reduce the number of memberships to just 30, and drop production acreage from 23 acres to 12. The change will allow them to focus their energies on food production for the restaurant and other outlets they supply.

"We didn't start out to be CSA farmers as the be all and end all," Mast says. "We're interested in opening businesses that connect people. Most of the produce grown here is shipped all over the U.S. -- we need to get more people interested in vegetable eating in Michigan."

The 4,000-square-foot restaurant will have locally grown meats on the menu, but the main focus will be vegetarian and vegan dishes prepared from organic in-season vegetables grown on Trillium Haven Farm, as well as fruits from other farms in the area. An open kitchen will allow customers to see how the food is prepared in the wood-fired oven. Tables and a bar, all hewn from barn beams, will keep the atmosphere casual.

The bar will offer local micro-brews and Michigan wines.

To get financing off the ground, Trillium Haven is offering 20 memberships to the restaurant for $1,200 each. Members will receive a $1,200 gift card to be used at $100/month at the restaurant, free cooking classes, invitations to taste test new dishes and more.

"One of the interesting components of this is that instead of us imposing on the community the foods we think they would like, our membership members will be our tasters and they'll be telling us what they want in a restaurant," Mast says.

Source: Anja Mast, Trillium Haven
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids appoints task force to identify solutions for city's street crisis

The Grand Rapids City Commission has appointed a Sustainable Streets Task Force to identify solutions for what a city press release identifies as "the City's street crisis."

The city reports that its general operating fund will run out of money for streets in fiscal year 2014. The Sustainable Streets Task Force's recommendations will guide the city's Transformation Investment Plan in development of investment recommendations in the face of drastically reduced funding that will cover the cost of work on main thoroughfares only unless other funding sources or budget realignments are identified.

The task force consists of some 40 business and community leaders, including three city commissioners, many of whom participated in the 21st Century Infrastructure Task Force a decade ago.

"The hope is that they will be able to provide multiple recommendations to the city commission that cover everything from level of service, the quality of our streets and benchmarks for quality, and also funding ideas to support that level of quality," says Planning Director Suzanne Schulz.

"It's not a good situation to be in, and one we don't want to be in, but the state has cut $100 million in tax revenue sharing, and we're trying to support police and fire services, street lighting; it's been a really tough policy decision," Schulz says. "The general fund should be putting in $3 million to $4 million for streets. It put in $3 million last year, is putting in about $1.5 million this year, and will go down to zero [for streets] in 2014."

Schulz says a couple of big concerns are that the general fund money has been used in the past as matching grant funding to leverage grants, and that the project to separate the storm and sanitary sewers, which provided funding for some new streets in conjunction with that work, is drawing to a close.

The task force will meet twice a month and will make a state of the streets presentation to the city commission on May 15. Community meetings in May and June will provide information to the public. Over the summer, the task force will investigate alternatives and possible solutions and will take the information to the community for ideas and feedback in the fall, followed by a final presentation to the City Commission by December.

Editor's Note: A few days after completing the interview for this article, reporter Deborah Johnson Wood received and accepted an invitation to sit on the Sustainable Streets Task Force.

Source: Suzanne Schulz, City of Grand Rapids Planning Department
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

GVSU's Annis Water Resources Institute to build $3.4M field research facility on Muskegon Lake

A new $3.4 million field research facility on the shore of Muskegon Lake will bring new environmental research laboratories, classroom space and dock space to Grand Valley State University's Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute.

The AWRI, which studies freshwater resources and provides education and outreach to preserve those resources, will raze an outdated warehouse structure on its complex at 740 W. Shoreline Dr., Muskegon. In its place, a new two-story building will be constructed next to the existing Lake Michigan Center that will increase the research and educational capacity of the institute.

"One reason we needed an additional building is because during the summer months we bring in 15 to 20 graduate students and are packed to gills," says AWRI Director Alan Steinman. The students are in addition to the institute's 65 staff members.

"Right now, our research labs are totally full," Steinman says. "Our new labs will be designed to look at climate change and invasive species for the 21st Century, so can target the issues and try to come up with solutions."

The 14,800-square-foot building will meet LEED certification criteria and will include, besides the laboratories, a mesocosm (tank) facility, offices for researchers and graduate students and a boat-loading bay for its two research vessels, the D.J. Angus and the W.G. Jackson.

"For every new research scientist we bring in, there tends to be the creation of two to three jobs," Steinman says. "As we move to a knowledge-based economy, having a knowledge-based institution on the lakeshore is always a good thing. This will lead to the creation of jobs, both in the construction [of the facility] and in the growth of the institute."

Construction will begin in August 2012 and wrap up in December 2013.

Architect: Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber, Inc.

Source: Alan Steinman, Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute of Grand Valley State University
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Holland upcycle boutique, Found, brings vintage clothes, home decor to Grand Rapids' East Hills

Inside a new vintage and upcycle boutique in Grand Rapids' East Hills shopping district, the friendly banter and easy laughter of the shop's three owners fills the air with a sense of fun.

Found, a cozy 700-square-foot shared space with Gingko Studio, is the inspiration of Susan Langejans who started her first shop, also called Found, in Holland (203 E. Eighth St.) three years ago. Within the past year, partners Abby Hoppen-Albers and Kelley Howley have come aboard, adding their specialties of upscale vintage clothing and shoes (Hoppen-Albers) and antique industrial furniture (Howley) to Langejans' design and upholstery talents.

The desire to open a second shop in Grand Rapids came about because "we kept hearing 'drive all the way to Holland' from customers," says Hoppen-Albers. "This is an up-and-coming area and we wanted to get our foot in the door here."

Found offers a mesmerizing blend of vintage-inspired new items, like jewelry, and genuine vintage items that have been re-purposed or upscaled to fit into modern lifestyles. Those items include party dresses and everyday clothing, framed vintage prints and needlework, lamps, upholstered furniture, and metal filing cabinets, desks and lockers.

"With Heritage Hill nearby, people are redoing their homes with vintage furniture and décor," Howley says. "We heard that Mary Ignatoski (Gingko Studio) was renting out the front of the store, so we ramped it up and were open in December in time for Shop Hop."

"I think more and more people now are really appreciating the quality of clothing and furniture from the past," says Langejans. "We're keeping things from being tossed aside."

The store will have a Valentine's Day sales event Feb. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring a photo booth.

Winter hours are: Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Source: Susan Langejans, Abby Hoppen-Albers, Kelley Howley, Found
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photographs: Deborah Johnson Wood

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Grand Rapids launches "Quality of Life" game to gather ideas for Michigan St. corridor improvement

First it was the Green Grand Rapids initiative's Green Pursuits game in 2008 that provided citizen feedback on improving the city's green spaces. Now, following that same successful and fun avenue for collecting data, Grand Rapids city planners have launched Quality of Life, a board game to gather ideas on how the users and residents of Michigan Street would like to see the corridor improved.

The city's planning department devised the game hoping that Michigan Street businesses, drivers, employees, residents and other stakeholders will gather with friends to think about, talk about, and mark on the game's board anything that would help improve the corridor from the E. Beltline to the Grand River.

"It starts with an ice breaker about why you use the Michigan Street corridor, what you like and don't like, and you share that with the other players," says Planning Director Suzanne Schulz. "You structure conversation around what things are on Michigan Street, you write down the answers and get them back to us."

The game includes a corridor map game board, instructions, game pieces, colored markers and sticky dots. Players will travel the corridor on the game board, thinking and talking about infrastructure, traffic, housing and other aspects of the street. They'll place the sticky dots on the map to indicate what improvements -- green spaces, trees, businesses and services, traffic controls, etc. -- they'd like to see and where.

"The game gives everyone a framework to have a good discussion about what the future holds," Schulz says. "At the same time, it gives the city some really good information to understand what our goals should be for the corridor. This is a regional corridor and we want to make sure it operates that way, plus represents all the users in the area."

The corridor improvement steering committee began a planning process last fall to determine what improvements are needed to serve businesses, the Medical Mile and others who use the corridor.

The game is free and is available now from the planning department at 1120 Monroe NW. Players should return the completed game to the planning department by March 2.

Source: Suzanne Schulz, Grand Rapids Planning Department
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Mary Free Bed plans $48M expansion of rehabilitation hospital in Grand Rapids' Heartside

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has plans to build a 115,000-square-foot addition connected to the west side of its existing hospital near the corner of Wealthy St. SE and Jefferson Avenue SE in Grand Rapids.

The four-story structure will rise above the property now used for Saint Mary's Health Services parking along Jefferson Avenue, allowing for an enhanced parking area under the structure, says Mary Free Bed CEO Kent Riddle. Included in the $48 million construction cost is a complete revamp of the existing 80-bed hospital to all-private patient rooms.

The entire project will bring another 40 private beds to the hospital campus, larger therapy rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, and family-friendly gathering areas and overnight accommodations.

"Families are an integral part to the rehabilitation process, and currently, if parents are staying with children [who are patients], the parent has to sleep in the room on a cot," Riddle says. "Also, patients coming from outside Kent County have families that need to stay in the area, so we're looking at adding 10 rooms where families can stay overnight or just have a place to get away from it all."

Riddle stresses that everything is still in the early planning stages, and while there's a general vision guiding the process, details have yet to be hammered out.

The main thrust of the vision is to provide beds for patients who no longer need acute care, but who still need around-the-clock care and rehabilitative therapy.

"Patients already come to Mary Free Bed from around the country and Canada," Riddle says. "We're seeing an increase in patients from the east side of the state and other areas outside our typical regional area. The new facility will allow us to have even more sub-specialization in therapies for pediatrics, amputees, stroke rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation and oncology, pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation."

Riddle expects the construction to be completed by late 2013.

Source: Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital; Mary Ann Sabo, Sabo Public Relations
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

$32 Million Transit Operations Center Set To Roll

Doubling the number of transit riders in 10 years requires a lot of planning and some large investments in infrastructure. And with riders on The Rapid reaching a record high of 10.8 Million in the last year, a greatly enhanced and larger operations center could not have come at a better time.

The Rapid, Grand Rapids' transit authority, marked the opening of its newly renovated $32 Million Wealthy Operations Center this past week. The three-year project was made possible with a combination of $10.7 Million in Federal stimulus money and $17 Million in Federal transportation funding dollars.

To mark the occasion, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Senator Carl Levin made a special visit to participate in the ribbon cutting. As Ray LaHood pointed out, "The $10 Million for this project that came from Federal stimulus dollars did exactly what it was supposed to do: create jobs."

Carl Levin spoke about the reputation for collaboration in the area, saying, "West Michigan is known for working together. The biggest example of this is the 6 cities and suburban areas that make up the Interurban Transit Partnership (ITP), a feat that the Detroit area has not been able to accomplish."

The renovation project doubled the size of the old operations center to approximately 280,000 square feet, providing space for a much larger fleet (over 150 busses) and for future expansion of services. With the design work of ProgressiveAE and construction management from The Christman Companies, many "green" features were added to the building including large skylights to greatly reduce the need for artificial lighting, a 40,000-square-foot green roof (the largest in West Michigan), a water reclamation system for bus washing that saves 9 million gallons of water a year, and 95% of construction and demolition materials being diverted from landfills.

The facility also contains operations staff, driver training facilities and will soon house an on-site fitness room.

Writer: Jeff Hill
Source: Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transport; Carl Levin, Senator; Jennifer Kalczuk, The Rapid


Seva Yoga opens larger studio, yoga store in East Grand Rapids

A larger yoga studio and more space for a boutique dedicated to the yoga lifestyle is not what Seva Yoga owner Michele Fife expected for a company just five years old. But in November, she moved her yoga studio and retail shop from an upstairs space in the back corner of a building on Wealthy Street SE to a 1,800-square-foot space (2237 Wealthy St. SE) that overlooks the fountain in East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village.

"This is my third move in five years. I started with a very small studio because I was being conservative, and 12 months later, I expanded into a larger space and stayed there four years," Fife says. "I'm constantly amazed. I had always worked for someone else since I was teenager. Until I opened the studio, it never popped into my head that I could make a living running my own business."

Seva Yoga has 12 yoga instructors that offer classes and one-on-one yoga sessions in a variety of styles: Kripalu, Anusara, Ashtanga, Yin Yoga classes, Vinyasa classes and gentle yoga classes. The boutique offers lululemon yoga-inspired athletic clothing, books on yoga and vegetarian and vegan cooking and eating, ayurvedic aromatherapy oils, Banyan Botanicals, plus yoga mats and other products.

"There is a variety that I like that about my studio," Fife says. "It's a blend of many different yoga styles, so we can represent everything. We have package pricing, but for any of our classes people can show up and just pay whatever they can afford. It takes a certain amount of trust that I can do something like that and believe that the business will be alright."

Fife says she's registered through Yoga Alliance to teach people how to be yoga teachers, and conducts those classes in the studio. You can follow her video segments on WOOD TV's new ABC channel, WOTV 4 Women, where she is the wellness expert.

Source: Michele Fife, Seva Yoga
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Proposed Grand Loop bike park in Grand Rapids gears up to add Richmond Park trails

The proposed Grand Loop bike park in Grand Rapids could get more traction soon when park proponents meet at Richmond Park to review trail possibilities and estimate costs.

The Grand Loop would use a series of existing off-street and on-street urban bike trails to connect a number of Grand Rapids parks in each quadrant of the city, where pump tracks and natural mountain bike trails would be developed or enhanced. Parks under consideration are: Grand Rapids Bike Park, Ken-O-Sha Park, Richmond Park, Ball Perkins Park and some unused cemetery property near Alger and Kalamazoo streets SE.

The Grand Rapids parks and recreation department, the West Michigan Mountain Bike Association (WMMBA) and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks have been working on the concept for a couple of years, says Jay Steffen, director of Grand Rapids parks and recreation.

Ken-O-Sha Park saw some trail work last fall, and in the next couple of weeks, Steffen and others will walk the Richmond Park trails to determine what work needs to be done and approximate costs before applying for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Passport Grant, Steffen says.

"We'd like to work with the WMMBA to make some of the trails more formalized," Steffen says. "When I say that, I mean there have been trails blazed in wooded areas that probably shouldn't be in those locations because of environmental issues. We'll work with the group to develop areas where there won't be so much environmental damage."

Steffen says the concept of connectivity was a key theme in the Green Grand Rapids Master Plan and the Five Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan completed about two years ago.

"Many of the on-road facilities also correspond with The Rapid's stops, so they are very much interconnected," Steffen says. "I believe Grand Loop is one of those quality of life amenities that has the ability to attract and retain people in Grand Rapids. Once it's completed, it will provide new, better and safer biking facilities for the biking community. It doesn't just accommodate the on-street bikes or off-road bikes; it's a good mix of both."

If the DNR grant is approved, Steffen says work could begin on the Richmond Park trails in spring 2013.

Clear here for an interactive map of West Michigan bike trails.

Source: Jay Steffen, Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Director
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Ferris State University adds first pharmacy college to school choices on Grand Rapids' Medical Mile

Future doctors, nurses, clinicians and medical researchers have had education and training opportunities along Grand Rapids' Medical Mile for several years. And now, Ferris State University says it has added the area's first pharmacy college to the growing mix of healthcare training options along Michigan Street NE.

University, city and state leaders will cut the ribbon to a new 26,000-square-foot, $9.1 million pharmacy education hub on Friday, Feb. 3., when the College of Pharmacy will officially open its doors to its new location on the 7th floor of 25 Michigan NE.

Pharmacy students have been part of the Grand Rapids healthcare landscape since the 1970s, says Steve Durst, college of pharmacy dean, but students have been located around the city for clinical training, and haven't had a central hub for training, studying and collaboration with neighboring training programs.

The school, which opened unofficially in early January, is home to some 150 third-year and 80 fourth-year pharmacy students.

"Michigan Street has three healthcare programs with Michigan State University's College of Human Medicine, Grand Valley State University's Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and now Ferris's College of Pharmacy," says Dean Durst. "This brings with it a great opportunity for collaboration, particularly focused on inter-professional education and understanding how to work on a medical team, as well as having the Van Andel Research Institute for research opportunities and graduate education."
    
Durst says first- and second-year pharmacy students will still study on Ferris's Big Rapids campus.

The new facility offers a combination of typical classrooms and large classrooms, with technology to connect a number of Ferris locations for distance learning. Gathering spaces for a handful of students as well as a student lounge equipped for larger groups give students spaces to connect with each other and study. The facility also offers a clinical skills room where students can receive hands-on training.

Source: Steve Durst, Dean, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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