| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed




Government : Innovation + Job News

18 Government Articles | Page: | Show All

Local nonprofit lands military medical product contract, adds jobs

Thanks to a three-year contract with the U.S. Army and a partnership with Israeli medical supplier PerSys Medical, Holland-based nonprofit Kandu will be creating 30-40 new jobs for individuals who many times are considered "unemployable."

According to Tom Vreeman, CEO at Kandu, this new book of business has been years in the works, but is fully aligned with their business model as a medical device contract manufacturing facility. "It took about three years to get this contract. I was at a special forces medical trade show that the Department of Defense puts on when I met PerSys, who was looking for a U.S. manufacturer for their high-performance bandages."

Vreeman says their organization invested in creating a clean room manufacturing facility, which is essential to compete for medical device businesses, after years of servicing the automotive and furniture industry. The bandage assembly business is their second contract for U.S. Military medical products.

The Kandu business model provides both employment opportunities and training for individuals that have been considered "unemployable," primarily as the result of disabilities.  

To learn about Kandu, you can visit their website here.

Source: Tom Vreeman, Kandu
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

JetCo Solutions taps networks to hire

JetCo Solutions' recent job search was profiled in Rapid Growth Media here.  Eschewing the usual channels to identify and interview candidates, the local firm took the road less traveled and filled two out of the three positions.

"We've never done a traditional job search," says VP Sue Tellier. "We added one full-time person, a  proposal manager and technical writer. We were very fortunate to connect with him through the community."

Tellier, a Detroit native, continues to explain how their firm filled this position. "West Michigan is surprisingly close-knit. Once we pushed this out in social media and general networking, we were able to get connected and make the hire."

JetCo also filled a part-time position for a research person in the same way, and continues to look for an account manager, which they hope to find before the end of the year. "The skillset we are looking for includes being able to quickly understand government procurement and have over-the-top customer service skills," says Tellier.

For anyone in the job market today, Tellier also offers this advice: "Learn to network effectively. It is not about the number of connections, but more what you do with the connections you have."

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

Source: Sue Tellier, JetCo Solutions
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

JetCo Solutions' growth means new sales, technical writing jobs for Grand Rapids

JetCo Solutions says its proactive and reactive processes for helping clients sell to the government has put the company on a growth track. That, in turn, means finding people to fill three new job positions the company just opened.

JetCo Solutions helps clients find government contracts for their product or service, works through the bidding process with them, helps them manage the proposal and follows up after submitting the proposals, says VP Sue Tellier.

"The capabilities are quite specific," says Tellier. Tellier's husband, Jon Tellier, founded the company in 2006. "We spent a lot of time trying to find the person with the perfect background, the perfect skills. But we've found that what we prefer is someone with the raw skills, someone who is not rigid, that we can train."

Tellier says the company will bring on a technical writer in the next two months. JetCo is also looking for two account managers to be "the main face" of the organization. And while experience is preferred, it's not a requirement.

The company is open to hiring a recent college graduate who has a degree in technical writing, says Tellier. And though she'd like to hire sales managers with procurement experience, she says that if someone understands how the federal budget works and how agencies spend money, they can teach the procurement piece.

JetCo Solutions has a diverse clientele, says Tellier, and does not take on clients who could compete with each other. Clients include companies from a number of industries, including healthcare staffing, a flooring contractor, defense contractors, air quality services and a lighting manufacturer.

For more information on JetCo Solutions, click here.

Source: Sue Tellier, JetCo Solutions; Kim Bode, 834 Design & Marketing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids City Clerk looks to hire an estimated 300 election workers

With local and statewide elections scheduled for May 8 and August 7, and the presidential election on November 6, Grand Rapids City Clerk Lauri S. Parks says she's looking for 200 to 300 people to work at the polls.

Some 500 election workers are already on the books, Parks says, and not all existing and new workers will be needed in May and August. But at least 200 new workers will be needed in November to accommodate a greater voter turnout for the presidential bid.

"An applicant must be a registered voter in Kent County and they have to be available to work on election day," Parks says. "They also have to come to mandatory training prior to working, and indicate whether they are a republican or democrat, because when we place the workers we have to have political balance at the precincts."

This year, a few polling precincts will have electronic poll books, so Parks says the city is looking for some of the applicants to have experience operating computers. Over the next couple of years, the city will transition all polling locations to e-poll books.

Parks says she always has more workers available than are needed because she needs to fill in for workers who have family obligations, vacations or illness. Others only want to work certain elections.

The election day workday begins at 6 a.m. and ends sometime after the polls close at 8 p.m. and the closing work is complete. Workers get breaks for lunch and supper, and earn $125 per day.

"It's a wonderful experience; people really enjoy it," Parks says. "They're always surprised at how detailed everything is that goes into the election and how many checks and balances are already in place."

To apply, pick up an application at the City Clerk's Office, 300 Monroe Ave. NW, 2nd floor (City Hall) or click here.

Source: Lauri S. Parks, Grand Rapids City Clerk
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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.

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 Health Car Reform Simplified 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

Sharon Hanks

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.

Heat Transfer International (HTI) of Kentwood, Innotec Inc. of Zeeland, and Polar Seal Window Corp. of Grand Rapids, were selected from among 40 applicants statewide to share in federal monies available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Their awards total $3.3 million in grants and $750,000 in loan guarantees made possible through the Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing (CEAM) program.

"This will allow us to do some really creative stuff in Michigan that isn't happening anywhere else in the world," says HTI president Dave Prouty of the $2.2 million grant and $550,000 in loan guarantees awarded to his Kentwood company at 4720 44th St. SE.

"In Michigan, we're the only company that's designing and manufacturing biomass power systems and one of only two or three in the United States," Prouty says. The biomass gasification systems transform waste materials, such as farm manure, sewer sludge, paper or wood remnants (forest slash) into a gas that powers a turbine to create electricity.

The grant will allow HTI, which has 20 employees, to purchase machinery to build its own alternative energy systems instead of relying on other companies -- many outside the state -- for help in making the final product. It will also give HTM greater control over the manufacture and quality of its biomass systems and allow its engineers to bring the final product to market faster.

Prouty expects HTI's influx of federal stimulus funds to allow it to hire from between 60 to 100 employees over the next five years, many of them highly paid engineers, CAD designers and skilled trade workers.

According to the announcement from the office of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Innotec will use its $1 million federal stimulus money and $200,000 loan guarantee to manufacture PCB-free LED integrated lighting panels.

Polar Seal Window will use its $100,000 federal grant and $100,000 loan guarantee to manufacture a new energy efficient commercial window framing.

Source: Announcement issued by the office of Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Dave Prouty, president of Heat Transfer International, Kentwood

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.com. She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.


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

Sharon Hanks

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.

"We wanted to bring awareness to the historical architectural treasures of Michigan," says Mary Lou Keenon, a spokesperson for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, which is sponsoring the contest along with the State Historic Preservation Office. "There are several prizes involved."

The National Trust has declared this year's theme to be "Old is the New Green" in recognition of the significant role historic preservation plays in more environmentally and economically sustainable development.

Photos must be received by June 1 by e-mail at mshdaphoto@gmail.com or by mail at the Lansing office. Those interested in particulars on the contest can view more here.

Eight regional winners will be notified by June 7 to receive either a gift card or one of three grand prizes which includes a trip to one of three destinations in the state: the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit, the Park Place Hotel in Traverse City and the Stafford's Perry Hotel in Petoskey.

Source: Mary Lou Keenon, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Lansing

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.com. She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.


GVSU launches new website to help business owners and entrepreneurs

Sharon Hanks

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.

The site lists a directory of 35 web sites for a wide range of organizations, departments, services and training, with 17 links to entities housed within the university. This listing of the resources is in keeping with GVSU's commitment to providing a comprehensive support network to the business community and economic development officials.

Jennifer Deamud, communications and marketing manager for the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center located at GVSU, says this collection of resources has been available in the past, but the portal provides the community with one convenient website to navigate and access the specific assistance they need.

"Another purpose is for use internally," she says, noting that employees of these organizations now have a convenient way of looking up information and refering callers to an appropriate agency or resource.

Among the organizations are the Annis Water Resources Institute, Career Services, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Family Business Alliance, Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC), Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center, Sustainable Community Development Initiative and the Van Andel Global Trade Center.

Other links cover such topics as seminars, product launches, networking opportunities, patents/licensing, export assistance and many more.

Source: Jennifer Deamud, communications and marketing manager for the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center at GVSU

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.com. She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids Police Department gets new crime-mapping system


By Sharon Hanks

Grand Rapids police are hoping its new crime-mapping system introduced last week encourages residents to be more proactive when it comes to fighting crime in their neighborhood.

The Internet-based systems allows users to see what kinds of crimes are happening throughout the city over a 90-day period, including information about the offense and when and were it occurred. To see the site, go here.

The information is based on complaints filed with the police department and will be updated twice a day, according to Officer Phil Porter who works in the department's crime analysis unit. He says the city is the first in the state to offer residents up-to-date crime information online

"We're expecting the public to be better acquainted with the crimes in their neighborhood and more aware of what's happening," Porter says. Residents can attempt to find crime patterns themselves by viewing the map. If they know, for example, there are several car thefts in their area, they'll be more on the lookout for suspicious activities.

"If they see something that they think is worth us knowing about, they'll report it," he says. At the site, residents can also sign up for daily e-mail alerts.

Source: Grand Rapids Police Officer Phil Porter.

Sharon Hanks is the innovations and job news editor at Rapid Growth Media. She can be reached at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

Still time to apply for Census jobs; up to 1,600 jobs open in Kent/Ottawa counties alone

While the job market is tough, the good news is that there is still time to apply for one of the U.S. Census Bureau's hundreds of thousands of part-time, temporary jobs that will be filled in the next few months.

Terry Satchell, a U.S. Census Bureau office manager in Grand Rapids, says hiring is underway to help gather information for the 2010 Census. Every ten years, the U.S. government is required to count every man, woman, and child in the country. It's a massive undertaking that requires the work of nearly one million individuals.

These short-term jobs offer good pay, flexible hours, paid training, and reimbursement for authorized work-related expenses, such as mileage incurred while conducting census work.

Census takers will begin in April going door-to-door in their own neighborhoods to conduct brief interviews with households that did not return their questionnaire. The questionnaires will be mailed in mid-March.

Satchell said they are hoping to fill from between 1,200 to 1,600 jobs for peak operations in March, April and May for Kent and Ottawa counties alone.  The local hourly pay starts at $10.50 for office workers. Entry-level field employees start at $13.75, with crew leaders earning $15 an hour and supervisors getting $16.60 an hour.  Census takers work approximately 20 to 40 hours per week, primarily in the evenings and on weekends.

The Census Bureau's Jobs Web site gives information on those who may  qualify. Those interested can also call 1-866-861-2010 to learn about available jobs and to schedule an appointment to take the basic skills test.

The 30-minute multiple-choice exam tests reading, math, clerical and organization skills along with the ability to interpret information and evaluate alternatives. While it isn't necessary to study in advance for the test, interested individuals can view a sample test online to practice and prepare for the types of questions asked. Applicants for management positions are required to pass an hour-long test.
Satchell says 3,000 to 4,000 applicants have taken the test for jobs in Kent and Ottawa counties, but his office is hoping an additional 1,500 applicants complete the test at any of nearly 20 local test sites.

"We'd like to have four or five good applicants for each job because some (workers) will move on, get a fulltime job, quit or any number of things happen," Satchell says. "We're trying to get the best employees we can. It's a major recruiting effort so we'll be working very diligently.  When the workload comes, we're on a fixed schedule (for completion)."

Sources:  U.S. Census Bureau website; Terry Satchell, census office manager in Grand Rapids
Sharon Hanks is the editor of innovation and job news at Rapid Growth Media.  She can be reached at sharon@rapidgrowthmedia.

West Michigan university receives $200K to launch nanotechnology courses

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, two Grand Valley State University professors will launch the university's first nanotechnology courses next year.

Lihong (Heidi) Jiao and Nael A. Barakat have two sequential courses in development: the fundamentals of nanotechnology, and advanced nanosystem engineering.

"Nanotechnology is a disciplinary word that encompasses physics, chemistry, biology and engineering," Jiao says. "Nano means cannot see with the naked eye. We are made up of nano particles, so we have the materials in chemicals and the human body and can see the features with the help of instrumentation."

The field of nanotechnology is growing rapidly, Jiao says, and is in nearly every industry, including electronics, biomedical, life sciences research, the clothing industry and even in kitchen goods.

Manufacturers embed anti-bacterial nano particles in socks, shoes and cutting boards, she says. Electronics continue to get smaller because of nanotechnology, and medical devices that used to be huge are now small enough for implantation in a patient's body.

"GVSU students currently have no exposure to nano science or technology," Jiao says. "We want our students to stay aligned with the industry, to have a state of the art education and stay aligned with what's the future of our society. Many local industries came to a GVSU open house and expressed the need of the knowledge in their companies; it's one of the reasons we're developing the courses."

Jiao expects to launch the first course by the fall semester of 2010.

Source: Lihong (Heidi) Jiao, Grand Valley State University

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.



Grand Rapids company investigates marketing recycled roof shingles as alternative to coal

Grand Rapids' Crutchall Resource & Recycling says it's investigating the use of recycled asphalt roof shingles as a renewable heating fuel and an alternative to coal.

The company grinds used asphalt roof shingles that paving companies use for pavement, but recently company leaders completed testing for the feasibility of using the ground up shingles as a renewable heating fuel.

Crutchall sent samples to SGS Group, an independent testing laboratory in Illinois. Tests showed the shingles burn at the same BTU value as mid-grade coal, says Ellie Kane, a partner in Crutchall Resource & Recycling. Emissions testing showed shingles burn cleaner than coal but leave more ash. Kane says the company plans to have the ash tested to determine if it's recyclable.

"The Department of Environmental Quality is looking at the testing and results," Kane says. "Michigan State University, Lansing Power and Light and the City of Wyandotte are looking at shingles as an alternative fuel. We're working to see how it can be classified."

If recycled shingles are approved as an alternative fuel, Kane says Crutchall will be ready to launch its product in the renewable energy market.  

"First and foremost we should always be good stewards of what's in our own backyard," Kane says. "We ship coal in from other states; shouldn't we use sources right here in our own state? Right now we have a minimum of 30,000 tons of shingles in our recycling yards waiting to be ground."

Crutchall opened its first asphalt shingle recycling yard in June 2007 at 631 Chestnut SW, Grand Rapids. Since then the company has opened shingle recycling yards in Lansing, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Flint and Warren and has tripled its revenue.

The Michigan Recycling Coalition named Crutchall the 2009 Business Recycler of the Year.

Source: Ellie Kane, Crutchall Resource & Recycling

Related Articles
Grand Rapids asphalt recycler aims to create 67 jobs and four new locations

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

18 Government Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts