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Government : Innovation + Job News

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JetCo Solutions taps networks to hire

Grand Rapids taking the lead in pedestrian and cycling friendly streets

The City of Grand Rapids adopted a "Complete Streets" resolution at a recent meeting. This resolution provides a commitment by city planners and engineers to use a more holistic approach on all future transportation projects by taking into account not only the needs of motorized vehicles, also but pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchairs and public transit.

This resolution was greeted enthusiastically by Tom Tilma, executive director of the Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. "We are thrilled with the commitment of the mayor, city commission and the work of the planners and engineers. The city of Grand Rapids is being a leader by adopting the resolution."

Tilma explains that "designing a complete street will encourage more walking, cycling and transit use and will promote a more active community with more vibrant retail districts."  He also is believes that these type of initiatives will make the city more attractive to "millennials and knowledge workers" who embrace a more active lifestyle.

The first tangible result of this resolutions will be the pilot program of "slimming down" Division Ave. this summer. "I think people are going to surprised on how well it will works," says Tilma, who also indicates that even if changes are not permanent on Division Ave., the city is committed to this process in targeting neighborhoods throughout the city.

The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition is a grassroots organization that is dedicated to transform metro Grand Rapids into a safer cycling community. To learn more about this organization, including an upcoming conference on cycling, you can visit their website here.

Source: Tim Tilma, Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs Editor

Youth program blasts off with $350,000 grant

"It's a win-win scenario," Lynn Heemstra, Executive Director Our Community's Children (OCC) enthusiastically proclaims when asked out the $350,000 grant provided to the organization from U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.

Heemstra explains that with the grant dollars, OCC will be coordinating the Leadership and Employment, Achievement and Direction (LEAD) program, a "really cool initiative" that offers relevant work experience for 90 Grand Rapids city residents, ages 15-21, by partnering with a broad spectrum of businesses throughout the city.   

These businesses, part of the Mayor's 50 program, will provide employment mentorship and a learning experience. The LEAD program then focuses on an educational experience by learning about neighborhood economies, entrepreneurship and leadership. The program also complements the cities two-year youth master plan, which is focused on preparing a more skilled and creative workforce.

Heemstra strongly encourages city-based businesses to apply for the Mayor's 50 program, saying, "This is a wonderful opportunity to invest in the next generation of workers by offering a positive work experience."

For information on the Mayor's 50 program, visit their website here.

To learn more about the LEAD program and for application instruction, you can visit the site here.

Source:  Lynn Heemstra, Our Community's Children
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs Editor

Local collaboration leads to local innovation

John Rumery

The City of Grand Rapids
and Local First recently announced their collaborative program, MyGRCity Points. The innovative and free program rewards customers who use the city's Single Stream Recycling Program and volunteer in the community. Points earned can be redeemed at local businesses for discounts on products and services.

"This is the first time Local First has partnered with the city of Grand Rapids," says Elissa Sangalli Hillary, executive director of Local First.   
While working on the details of this program behind the scenes for several months, national organization CEOs for Cities learned of the program and wanted to get involved.  CEOs for Cities is a non-profit organization that works with urban leaders to "catalyze the advancement of the next generation of great American cities." With CEOs for Cities' support, this program has the opportunity to be recognized on a national level.  This, in turn, then can elevate Grand Rapids' profile as an innovative leader in community engagement.

According to Sangalli Hillary, many of the Local First members are "excited by the support the city is showing to locally owned businesses." Besides the positive benefits of recycling and volunteerism, this program has the potential to increase visibility and foot traffic for locally-owned businesses in the various neighborhoods throughout the city.

Blending technology and incentives, the program is fairly simple to understand and administrate. Within the next few months, customers will be able to go online and register for a free MyGRCity Points account.  Once registered, participants can start earning points by participating in wide variety of activities such as using the single stream recycling program, helping to organize community events and volunteering for a wide variety of activities, which will be identified through the website. Individuals then can redeem points at participating local businesses for discounts on products and services. The entire program will be administered online.

The program is scheduled to roll out in three phases, beginning with the recycling program.   The goal is to be fully implemented by the end of 2011. For more information you can visit the website http://points.grcity.us

Source: Interview with Elissa Sangalli Hillary, City of Grand Rapids Media Release and CEOs for Cities website.

John Rumery is the Innovation and Jobs Editor for Rapid Growth Media. He is an educator, board member of AimWest, WYCE music programmer, entrepreneur, raconteur and competitive barbecuer living in Grand Rapids, MI.  He can be reached at InnovationandJobs@RapidGrowthMedia.com

 For story tips you can e-mail info@rapidgrowthmedia.com

Local agent launches website to help simplify the understanding of health care reform

John Rumery

For Rodney Vellinga, launching http://www.healthreformsimplified.com/ was a simple solution for a complex problem.  As a licensed health insurance professional, he has followed the rollout of the Health Care Reform Bill that began its phased implementation January 1 of 2010.  His conclusion; what this bill means to individuals and small businesses is very confusing to understand.  

Vellinga states that the bill, which will be rolled out in phases through January 1, 2014, is not only "very complex" but also "people are very busy and it is hard to get a handle on what is going on".    He states that even among professionals in that industry, the future implications of this program are mostly speculative.

To help solve this problem Vellinga initially started a LinkedIn group focused on the health care bill.  He then launched his website that features information and free webinars on Friday afternoons which will address various health care related issues such as the impact this bill will have on individual policy holders.  "You can read about health care reform but it more understandably if it is discussed through a dialogue in simple language".  

Vellinga points to the recent introduction of the Michigan High Risk Insurance Pool which goes into effect in October as an example of a program that is probably better understood through a discussion rather than through a reading of the official program details.  

Vellinga makes it clear that this forum and his webinars will be apolitical.   It is not intended to discuss the pros and cons of the bill, but will be a practical discussion of the laws.  He views his target markets as being the self-insured, H.R. professionals, small business owners, especially those without a human resources department, and other health insurance agents.    

Vellinga is cautiously optimistic about his new site. There should be no lack of interest in this type information.  Many reports have the uninsured in Michigan of being around 1.2 million people with projections that it will continue to grow.   But learning about the impact of a government program still requires effort and in the case of his site, individuals will need to devote time on a Friday afternoon to engage in the discussion.

John Rumery is the Innovation and Jobs Editor for Rapid Growth Media. He is an educator, board member of AimWest, WYCE music programmer, entrepreneur, raconteur and competitive barbecuer living in Grand Rapids, MI.  He can be reached at InnovationandJobs@RapidGrowthMedia.com

 For story tips you can e-mail info@rapidgrowthmedia.com

Three area manufacturers awarded $3.3 million in federal funds to make clean energy products

Three small West Michigan manufacturers were among nine selected statewide to receive federal grants and loans totaling $20 million as "seed" money to nurture the development and manufacture of clean energy products, a growth industry Michigan is trying to foster to diversify its auto-intense economy. The  share to West Michigan companies totaled nearly $4.2 million in grants and loans.



Michigan sponsors photo contest in celebration of historic preservation month of May

Professional and amateur photographers in metro Grand Rapids have until June 1 to submit photos that showcase Michigan's architectural heritage in a new photo contest called "Old is the New Green." Eight regional winners will be awarded several things, including a getaway to an historical Michigan destination.

GVSU launches new website to help business owners and entrepreneurs

Grand Valley State University has launched a new website, www.gvsu.edu/businessresource, to help entrepreneurs, business owners and economic developers find helpful community resources to grow their companies.
22 Government Articles | Page: | Show All
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