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$8.5 million Holland Home Breton Rehab & Living Center overhaul to bring 10-15 jobs with new center

Construction is finally underway for the new $8.5 million expansion project at Holland Home's Breton Rehabilitation & Living Center, scheduled for completion in late 2015. 

When finished, the privately funded overhaul will include a 4,560-square-foot rehabilitation center and a 13,390-square-foot, 15-bed memory care assisted living unit and bring 10-15 new jobs to accommodate the increased capacity. 

Mina Breuker, chief operating officer of Holland Home, says many of these new positions will be in the new memory care assisted living unit for what she calls "universal workers," who are expected not only to work with residents from both a customer service angle and clinical knowledge base, but also know food service techniques and light housekeeping. 

"They do everything," Breuker says. "It's like a home – we do everything, our own laundry, cleaning and that type of thing. Employees take ownership and for the right person, it's a very rewarding work environment." 

Part of the nonprofit's Breton Woods campus, the memory care assisted living space will be a "deinstitutionalized version of the typical nursing home," with more spacious private rooms and bathrooms with communal dining and living areas and a residential style kitchen. The new assisted living facility will also house a den, spa, nurse station, staff office, and separate clean and soiled linen rooms. 

Breuker says the assisted living unit will also feature a built-in ceiling track lift system that will make it possible for a single person to perform a safe transfer of a resident from the bed to a chair or to the bathroom, making the personal care process much easier on both staff and residents.  

She says with completion slated for fall 2015 she expects Holland Homes will be filling up those assisted living facility positions over the course of next summer to allow for any in-house training required for the new hires. 

To learn more about openings at all of the Holland Home locations, visit http://hollandhome.org/employment/. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images courtesy of Holland Home 

Welcome to your local, neighborhood butcher shop: E.A. Brady's is open for business in Eastown

Although it took a bit longer than expected to be ready to serve their customers, brothers Aidan and Evan Brady are proud to announce that E.A. Brady's Local. Pastured. Meats. is open for business.

When you enter the shop, which is located at 1413 Lake Drive SE in Eastown, be prepared to be greeted by big smiles from the brothers, who most likely will be behind the counter breaking down whole cuts of meat and trimming up the final product before it's displayed in the front cases.

It is fair to say the store is still a work in progress, as the brothers work on filling their cases and adding new shelves to display accessories such as cookbooks, cutting boards, seasonings, and utensils, but there is no lack of product to chose from.

The cases feature hand cut and trimmed beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, with everything being sourced from within about 175 miles of the shop. You can expect to find the traditional cuts of meat such  as pork chops, lamb chops, T-bone steaks, tri-tips, beef briskets, whole chicken and chicken quarters. You can also expect to find more unusual cuts such as "bavette," which is similar to skirt steak.

The shop also has an interesting fresh sausage selection, which includes the usual suspects, brats and Italian, but also a variety of chicken sausages and a lamb-based sausage product known as "merguez" which Evan describes as "spicy, but not hot spicy."

Aidan Brady says customers can expect something different each time they come into the store as the brothers continue to build out their product offerings, which will eventually include house-smoked products such as jerky and snack sticks.

As they get started, the brothers are being supported by one part-time staff member and a trainer from Brooklyn's Fleisher's Grassfed and Organic Meats, where Evan was an apprentice. Once the trainer moves on to another store, Aidan says they anticipate adding another butcher to the team.

To learn more about the store, you can visit their website here or their Facebook page here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Local brewery crafts crowdfunding campaign with local technology

Hudsonville's Pike 51 Brewery has announced a crowdfunding campaign to support expanded production capabilities, increase distribution, and purchase more equipment to create additional specialty brews.

The brewery, which grew out of Hudsonville Winery, opened in 2012. In the two years of operation it has experienced steady growth and has increasingly been recognized for the quality of its beer. To keep up with the momentum, Rob Snider, co-owner, says the organization needs additional funding. "Our crowdfunding goal is $50,000 which will help build our production levels up," says Snider. "We have had good success with quality.  We've entered our beers in nine competitions and had them place eight times. Our product is good but we can't make much."

The decision to  use crowdfunding is a result of changes in Michigan law that make it easier for individuals to be investors through crowdfunding portals. It's also a referendum on customer loyalty to the brewery, says Snider: "We needed to fund more equipment. We saw other breweries do it, and it is a good litmus test to see what customers think of us."

While there are no minimum investments, $50 will earn supporters a bottle of a private bourbon barrel brew, which will not be made available to the public. The campaign will end in mid-December 2014, and will be supported by Grand Rapids-based PayItSquare.com by OST as the fundraising platform.

Brian Anderson, business development manager at OST, says supporting local businesses is a great use for PayitSquare.com. "Our platform is really perfect for this type of crowdfunding," Anderson says. "It is completely free to set up a page. We only charge fees when people make their contributions online, and the fees are the lowest in the industry. We are thrilled to be supporting our local friends and neighbors."

The campaign features a wide variety of levels of support which can be viewed here. To learn more about Pike 51, visit their website here or their Facebook page here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Catering and personal chef business focuses on food and family

The Everyday Chef and Wife is a family affair, literally and figuratively.

The catering and personal chef company is run by chef Jason McClearen and his wife Kate, who handles marketing, promotions, and everything "creative."

The business, which is  based out of the Downtown Market's kitchen incubator, provides catering services for weddings, corporate events, and special affairs and serves as a personal chef for families looking for an affordable alternative to dining out.

Chef Jason describes his style as "gourmet comfort food," "handmade and homemade," and  "nice but simple." He says the inspiration to start his business came after one too many bad weddings ("We got tired of eating real bad wedding food") and an intense desire to remove himself from the daily grind of working in restaurants. "I've worked restaurant jobs," he says; "late night, long hours. But I decided I wanted to be home with family more."

One of the biggest opportunities for the two-person business is expanding the personal chef business, which both owners say is a matter of changing perception of personal chefs and avoiding the comparison to "private chefs" who work exclusively for a family or a company and are not something many families can afford.

"There is a stigma that no one can afford a personal chef," says Chef Jason, who is adamant that actually it is a very cost effective way to "go out for dinner" while staying at home.

To learn more about The Everyday Chef and Wife, you can visit their site here and Facebook page here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Mary Free Bed YMCA will be first of its kind in 'universal design', create 40 new jobs

The YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids broke ground last week on its new $30 million facility in Cascade Township – a massive 116,220-square-foot LEED-Certified facility funded through an investment by its community partners at the Mary Free Bed Guild that will be the first of its design on a national level. 

The new Mary Free Bed YMCA will replace the existing 35-year-old Cascade Township building and will incorporate traditional Y health and wellness activities and programs with a new level of "universal design" to create an integrated facility suited to the needs of individuals with ability levels that fall anywhere on the spectrum. 

The 36-acre campus will include an indoor aquatics center, sports courts, group fitness classrooms, fitness area, indoor track, teaching kitchen, greenhouse, and learning classrooms as well as an outdoor sports complex with sports fields, tennis courts, an activity trail, children's playground, wheelchair softball field and a farm-to-table program – complete with an on-site community garden and greenhouse. 

Ron Nelson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, says the new healthy living center is the manifestation of many existing partnerships forged between the Y and similarly invested area organizations, including the Michigan Nutrition Network, among others. 

"We've also been talking with various organizations, from school districts through West Michigan Environmental Action Council to the Innovation High School as part of the Kent Intermediate Unit - just to a variety of organizations that have an interest in conducting programs and activities or have a similar interest in investing in the disabled population," Nelson says. 

With scheduled competition of fall 2015 still about a year out, Nelson says they expect the new facility to create 40 new jobs, though the number won't be a concrete one until the building is closer to opening. He says the majority will be part-time positions for fitness instructors and personal trainers, as well as in aquatics, maintenance, membership services, and office/clerical work. . 

Nelson says the YMCA will most likely hold a job fair to recruit these new hires, but details on that won't be announced until about six months out from the opening date.  Progressive AE is serving as the architect on the project and Rockford Construction will manage the construction.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images Courtesy of Terry Johnston Photograph

Grand Valley grad combines passion and pastime with new Grand Rapids Beer Tours service

If you take a ride in one of the 15-passenger Grand Rapids Beer Tours vans, co-owner and tour guide Brain Haik will tell you about a lot of Grand Rapids beer and brewing company history you might not have already known.  

For example, he knows that Founder's Brewing Co. got the name we know it by today because of their original beer bottle labeling, which featured black and white portraits of the city's founding members with the word "founders" printed above. He can tell you how Grand Rapids Brewing Co., back when it was first established in 1892, was the largest brewery in the Midwest that produced more beer annually than Founder's does today, or how, in the decade or so leading up to prohibition, Grand Rapids was host to over 16 breweries. 

Point is, Haik knows his stuff. 

With an undergraduate degree in history and geography from Grand Valley State University and past experience working at Founder's Brewing Company, he opened Grand Rapids Beer Tours over the summer with the intention to combine his talents and passions – history and Grand Rapids breweries – and give people a safe way to experience a city that has not only a dynamic beer scene, but also the history to match. 

Grand Rapids Beer Tours offers five different types of public and private tours that generally include transportation to and from three to four Grand Rapids breweries, offering an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at brewery operations with at least one of the locations on each tour. At $50-65 per person depending on the type of tour, the cost also covers all beer samples or tips along the way. 

"People are realizing again the beer is pretty awesome and it tastes great and it's an interesting beverage to drink," Haik says. "It's had a bad name in the past – wine is always considered more of a 'fine' drink – but I think we're starting to see more people look at beer as in the same category as wine, if not more so, because there's way more different kinds." 

He says Grand Rapids Beer Tours is the most "catered beer tour in town," adding that so far business has been good, with about 80 percent of his customer requests being for private tours – bachelor and bachelorette parities, birthday parties, or employee outings for companies. 

"Obviously, it's not a 100 percent original idea; other companies are doing it," he says. "But other ones that recently opened up in town might transport people to and from breweries, but that's it. With us, we do the entire tour. We'll talk about the beer styling and about the history of Grand Rapids brewing and the breweries themselves. A lot of things that other places might not."

Visit the Grand Rapids Beer Tours website for more information on pricing and booking a tour. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images courtesy of Grand Rapids Beer Tours 

Jeff Royce named president of Iserv

The Iserv Company has announced that it has named Jeff Royce as president. Prior to the new position, Royce served as director at GR Current, a West Michigan technology incubator.

Royce is the first president to be named to Iserv since the firm's acquisition over two years ago by Boston-based 382 Communications.

Since the company has experienced steady growth in sales and personnel over those two years, the decision was made to create a leadership position in West Michigan. "It's a new role," Royce says. "It made more sense to have someone be here every day."

Royce says he anticipates it will be business as usual as he settles into the new position. His focus will be growing brand recognition and expanding new services. "The opportunities are limitless for Iserv," says Royce. "With a combination of the experience and talent of the existing team, combined with the financial commitment from Boston to upgrade and bring new products and services, it is a very exciting time for Iserv."

Looking back on his tenure at GR Current, he sees several parallels between the two positions. "GR Current allowed me to build a team of talented and passionate individuals that in turn created a culture that allowed GR Current to accomplish things I never envisioned," he says. "I see a lot of similarities with my team at Iserv and am looking to help create the same results."

Headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, Iserv is one of the nation's most experienced technology providers. Meeting the needs of a growing customer base for over 19 years, Iserv has evolved into a full-service integrated connectivity and managed services provider.

To learn more about Iserv you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor.

Beer O'Clock brings together Grand Rapids' finest with new art crawl ArtPrize map

As the end of September catapults the city of Grand Rapids into its annual frenzy of citywide art installations, the trio behind Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids hopes to bring together the best of what Beer City, U.S.A. has to offer during its annual ArtPrize event with its new “art crawl map.”

Available as a PDF printout on Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids’ website, the art crawl map features a guided route through seven major ArtPrize venues with stops at 12 bars offering happy hour deals along the way. 

Daniel VanderMolen, who worked with Tyler Doornbos (North Sea Studio) and Megan Streng to create and launch the Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids website last March, says the idea came to the group during last year’s ArtPrize event.

“We talked about how last year when we went down, we didn’t have a real specific route for what we wanted to do and just kind of ended up going around aimlessly,” VanderMolen says. “Because we're Beer O'Clock and our big thing is happy hour, or going out and grabbing a drink, we figured if we could create a map that would take people through ArtPrize in a more specific way and hit up some of the hot spots while still getting to hit up some of our other favorite things, like the best happy hour deals, it would be the perfect mix.” 

VanderMolen says the team cross-referenced the most popular ArtPrize venues – like the area outside of the B.O.B. and DeVos Place – with some of the best happy hour deals in the city, coming up with locations that include Sundance Bar & Grille, One Trick Pony, Rockwell Republic, Pyramid Scheme and Bobarino's at the B.O.B., to name a few. 

Should any art crawlers lose their PDF printout during their travels or find themselves wanting to join in halfway through, VanderMolen says Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids has an additional 1,200 print-outs of the map that will be placed in key locations throughout the route.   

“We actually walked the map before we went and finalized the print for it,” he says. “We went in and talked to all different bars and talked to them about if it was something they would be interested in, and the reaction from just the bars alone was fantastic. We're pretty confident that it's going to have a good response.” 

Click here to visit the Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids website and print out your own art crawl map. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images courtesy of Beer O’Clock Grand Rapids 

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Atomic Object forges unique, permanent partnership with Ann Arbor start-up

Grand Rapids software developers Atomic Object are investing more than just money in the Ann Arbor start-up Local Orbit this time around. 

In addition to a $100,000 pledge to the budding company for their next round of funding, longtime Atomic Object developer Micah Alles will join the Local Orbit team as its new chief technology officer, signifying the beginning of what looks like a beautiful friendship. 

“This is not, ‘I’m going to do a job and go away and maybe come back later to help with another job.’ This is a continuing relationship,” says Local Orbit CEO Erika Block. “Micah is our CTO and he’s in it for the long haul in both the investment relationship and advisory relationship.” 

As the new Local Orbit CTO, Alles will leverage Atomic Object’s tools, processes, and culture to bootstrap and mentor a growing team of Local Orbit software developers - something Alles has experience doing at Atomic Object since he joined its team in 2002. 

“We have a strong culture and very attractive practices and processes that make it a really great place for developers to work,” Alles says. “Especially for the best developers in the country. I have a lot of experience leading and building teams within Atomic Object, too, so what I'm able to do is that same thing but for Local Orbit internally.”

Local Orbit, which offers the tools and software platform to help connect local farmers and local food businesses to “create stronger, more efficient food networks that can meet the demand for food produced closer to where we live,” still looks very young next to the 15-year-old Grand Rapids-based Atomic Object. 

However, it’s the newness of Local Orbit’s prospects that has Atomic Object seeing an opportunity to invest in not only a company, but also a way of doing business. 

“Atomic Object always makes our client’s problems our problems, so we always feel invested in their success,” Alles says. “With this partnership, we have one of the greatest chances we have ever had to see that through to the greatest success our clients can have. Not only are we initially helping Local Orbit continue to build their own platform with our product development team as we have for many clients before, but we also have the opportunity to help shape and build the culture and continue to build on that moving forward.” 

Perhaps due to a work-relationship that has been budding for some time now, Block says the partnership between Local Orbit and Atomic Object has been almost organic in nature. 

“What’s been really interesting is that probably because we've built a relationship prior to this partnership, our culture and our way of looking at business and the world and software development and using technology to solve problems in big markets, is something that, in the initial stages of our partnership, has been very seamless,” Block says. “There's a lot of mutual respect for each company's management processes and for the talent we've each been able to bring together.”

Right now, Local Orbit is looking for an “Atomic-quality software engineer” to join its re-imagined team, while Atomic Object is looking to hire new software developers at all three locations. For more information on job openings at either company, visit Alles blog or Atomic Object’s job page.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Image courtesy of Atomic Object/Micah Alles

Buzzed Inn leaves the lights on for solitary bees

In the urban and suburban landscape, where old trees are culled from property, lawns are impeccably manicured and pesticides are applied liberally, where can a solitary bee find an old beetle hole to call home?


Thanks to eco-entrepreneurs and artisans Kate Sandahl and Gordy Baylis, native solitary bees, important pollinators who, like their more famous cousins the honey bees, are in decline, now have affordable and comfortable options for housing at Buzzed Inn, Solitary Bee Hotels.

Sandahl and Baylis make handcrafted, colorful "bee hotels" designed specifically for solitary bees. They are built to last several seasons and are easy to use and maintain.  Sandahl recommends that bee houses be placed in any green space, usually in or near a flower garden. She says they should be hung securely 3-6 feet off the ground and preferably facing east or southeast.  

"In the beginning of winter, late November, bring it in to the garage or shed and the bees will be dormant," she says. "You then bring them back out in late March." Sandahl says you know when the houses are occupied because the holes are mudded over or plugged up with leaves.

Currently the duo sells houses at the Fulton Street Artisan's Market on Sundays. They are also approved vendors at the Fulton Street Farmers Market and at the Metro Health Farmers Market and are occasionally at those markets. They plan on doing a few craft and art shows over the fall and winter months. The hotels also are sold online at www.buzzedinn.com.

"I've always been intrigued by gardening and I have friends who have huge gardens and know how essential bees are to gardens," says Sandahl.  

To learn more about solitary bees you can click here. To check out Buzzed Inn click here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

Richett Media opens office in thriving East Hills neighborhood

Richett Media has opened a new office. The boutique public relations firm, which was founded in November 2012, now calls 822 Cherry St. Suite 202 home.

While the majority of Richett Media's work takes place off-site with clients, the new office will provide the five-person team with a central location for debriefing, strategy discussions and powering up. "This space gives us an outlet for our meetings, brainstorming, creativity and to connect as a team," says Emily Richett-Hughes, founder.  

Richett-Hughes says she has been looking for the perfect neighborhood to base her business for almost a year, and when an opportunity to share a space with Baas Creative on Cherry St. presented itself, she jumped on it: "We needed a space where we could meet with clients while still being a part of the community. Many of our clients are based in the Grand Rapids area and a lot of work involves community outreach so it makes sense for us to plant roots and immerse ourselves in the local culture. We're thrilled to join the vibrant East Hills business district."

Looking to the future, Richett-Hughes is very optimistic. "We saw a lot of growth this past year as Richett Media went from a sole identity (me) with some contractors to a team of five. Now we're large and professional enough to offer our clients a wide range of services, but still small and flexible enough to offer them customized experiences. Our staff is comprised of a former news reporter and host, a national marketing manager, and video producers."

Richett-Hughes says she expects to add another person to the team after getting settled into the new office. "We've had a lot of interest from some really impressive candidates. That is one of the challenges I anticipate in this next year - finding a good balance for growth. Our clients consider us an extension of their teams and we don't want to lose that personal service they've come to expect," she says.

To learn more about Richett Media, you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs Growth Editor

Second Saladworks set to open near Centerpointe Mall, continues to add jobs at both locations

Local franchisees Tim and Julie Calderone will be opening their second Michigan Saladworks location at an outlot at Centerpointe Mall this October.

Tim Calderone says he expects "at least 25 new jobs" to be added with the location, which comes just a few weeks after the August opening of Saladworks in downtown Grand Rapids, where he says another 40 jobs were created.

Calderone sees the majority of these jobs as "great opportunities" for those entering the workforce for the first time. "We have a very diverse workforce," he says. "For a few people, it is a first-time job. For high-schoolers getting into the work force, we schedule around school and athletics. We also hire a few people who have never worked before."

Calderone says he hires for personality and potential and that working at Saladworks can be a first step for individuals who need a second chance: "The past is the past. At the end of the day not everyone works out, but if you have motivation, we give people opportunity. We try to mentor and coach to give people the chance to build a career and a stepping stone to other things. We tell our employees in Kilwins, you are not going to be scooping ice cream for the rest of your life."

Saladworks is the nation's first and largest fresh-tossed salad franchise concept. The menu offers made-to-order salads, soups, and sandwiches, as well as catering, online ordering and delivery. Having signed a multi-store development deal, the Calderones plan to open three Saladworks locations across Grand Rapids. The couple also opened the Kilwin's Chocolates & Ice Cream shop located in McKay Tower in 2012.

To learn more about Saladworks, you can visit their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

New web portal connects area entrepreneurs with resources

Emerge West Michigan is a new, regional collaboration between a diverse group of West Michigan businesses and organizations who share a common vision to inspire, nurture, and promote entrepreneurism, startups, and small business growth in West Michigan.

The new organization announces the launch of its web portal this week, a resource that Laurie Supinski, director, says will be one-stop shopping for entrepreneurs in seek of information on how to get started and how to grow: "It is the one place where all resources come together."

Supinski says the site will initially help identify and organize all the varied educational programs, resources, and initiatives that are already in place and providing service to the startup community in the region. It will also help connect entrepreneurs to these courses and workshops, which are focused on business plans, funding, sales and marketing, product development, workspace, events, training, and networking.

Over time, Supinski envisions the site to include information on business trends plus content and stories from area entrepreneurs that provide insight, inspiration, and recognition.

Emerge is part of GR Current and is supported by various stakeholders, including several regional Chamber of Commerce organizations, TALENT 2025, area universities, and other economic development organizations in West Michigan.

In addition to maintaining and marketing the web portal, Emerge will be sponsoring a series of community events. To learn more about this new initiative, visit www.emergewm.com for updates.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

An elegant success: Jennifer Butler Interior Design crafts beautiful interiors

Jennifer Butler Interior Design is an eleven-year-'young' firm that is hitting a very comfortable and sustainable stride as its reputation and business steadily grow.

The company, which specializes in interior design for home and commercial companies, grew from one employee to four in a one-year period beginning in late 2012. The team, led by founder Jennifer Butler, includes Amy Vande Streek, who joined the firm  as an associate in November 2012 and now handles communications and media engagement; Heather Lingbeek, a designer who was hired in February 2013; and Chelsea Stafford, who joined as a designer in October 2013.  

Serving customers primarily on the west side of Michigan, Jennifer Butler Interior Design has a very diverse skill set and portfolio, including large-scale and small-scale remodels for private residences and commercial properties such as spas, churches, athletic facilities, and offices. The firm is LEED accredited.

If what Butler senses is happening in the market place continues, the future is will be one of continued business growth.

Butler, who has a BFA from Kendall and a BA in business from GVSU, says that many organizations and families have not done anything with their spaces for several years but are now feeling more comfortable with the economy: "A lot of people were holding their cards and are now eager to move forward. 'Let's just do it. We want to remodel.'"

Butler credits her customer-centric approach to design and finding the right talent for her team as a key to her success. "Our style is listening and paying attention to the client," says Butler. "It is making it their project. We want to be there to interpret and to make it the best fit for what the client wants."

Butler says a key to building her team has been the talent pipeline from Kendall and then finding the right person. "I look for someone who is the right fit that can mesh with the team," she says.

Although she has no short-term plans to add staff, she says in the spring of 2015 she will be evaluating personnel needs again and could possibly be looking to grow her team.

To learn more about Jennifer Butler Interior Design, including her customer portfolio, you can visit her site here. You can also like her Facebook page here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor


Orion Construction grows residential and job markets in tandem with various construction efforts

As Orion Construction adds more residential living spaces to a growing list of construction projects in Grand Rapids, the company itself continues to grow alongside its development efforts in the city, too. 

“We’re growing projects, growing backlogs,” says Roger Rehkopf, president of Orion Construction. “Now that we’re into the building mode of those projects, we’ve hired several people within the last six months – interoffice people, superintendents and project managers – to look at the growth that we’ve had.”

Public Relations Coordinator Jason Wheeler says though some of the new hires at Orion Construction were based on big projects like the new Arena Place development, which boasts a total of 200 full-time construction jobs alongside an additional 30 projected employment opportunities in the retail and restaurant industry when it opens, many will remain on staff as full-time employees even after the project is completed.  

“Our workload and projects committed list is strong for 2015, so everyone who has been hired for a specific project at Orion will remain full-time after their job closes out,” Wheeler says. “They’ll head to another job.”  

Aside from Arena Place, construction efforts on three other major Orion-backed development projects has resulted in the creation of nearly 300 more full-time construction jobs. 

Rehkopf says every Orion Construction project intentionally integrates living space with work opportunities wherever possible with the intent being to create more jobs through accessible ground-floor retail space. 

“In nearly every project we have, there is some component of multi-family and retail, where somebody could have a retail space and live above it. In fact, in Eastown you could almost live beside it,” he says. “Again, they’re a kind of work, play, live concept all in the same area.” 

The construction of the 98,741-square-foot, 86-unit Gateway at Belknap has created demand for over 50 full-time construction jobs with more opportunities for job creation in the 7,500 square feet of restaurant space and 4,770 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. 

The conversion of the former Aslan Building into the 25-unit, market-rate housing complex 7th Street Lofts, brought around 40 full-time construction jobs when development began in August, while the upcoming Sept. 22 groundbreaking for Eastown Flats at 1400 Wealthy SE will create an additional 75 construction jobs with 5-10 retail positions on the ground floor. 

“We do see a lot of growth, a lot of construction opportunity,” Rehkopf says. “We think the residential market still needs additional units in downtown to be, I’ll say, in comparison to other large cities with downtown living and we think that by bringing more residential downtown that we’ll also see more growth and other retail aspects of downtown.”

Written by Anya Zentmeyer
Images courtesy of Orion Construction 

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Orion Construction adds new staff to support multiple projects 
Orion Construction’s growing project list creates need for accountant, three project superintendents 
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