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Midtown : West Michigan In The News

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Supporters say Grand Rapids Uptown prime for Corridor Improvement District

A Corridor Improvement District could provide the means for four Grand Rapids business districts to raise big money for beautification and infrastructure revitalization.

Census data shows Grand Rapids gained residents, migration south slows

The sluggish housing market and other economic woes have had a beneficial side effect for Grand Rapids: a population increase, which results in a healthier economy.

Grand Rapids named among top 66 cities nationwide for buying a home

A national study has found that Grand Rapids is one of only 66 major housing markets nationwide where purchasing a home could cost less than renting an apartment and homebuyers could build substantial equity in just 12 years.

$20B Great Lakes cleanup lauded as economic driver by state lawmakers, researchers

Coming on the heels of the signing of the Great Lakes Compact, which safeguards Great Lakes water, state legislators, top researchers, and area business leaders advocated for a 20-year, $20 billion strategy to clean up the Great Lakes; a venture that promises to create jobs and bring billions in statewide tourism and manufacturing.

Policy conference to give region a voice for prosperity, jobs

In mid-September, business and civic leaders from all over West Michigan, and lawmakers from all over the state, will gather in Grand Rapids to discuss and dissect economic policies that matter to the region and will set it on a course for prosperity and jobs.

Road Rally sets up finish line in Grand Rapids, 60-plus cars expected

Auto enthusiasts can join the excitement this October as over 60 cars race into Grand Rapids, the finale of a cross-country road rally designed to raise publicity for missing children rescue. The rally also gives West Michigan an end-of-the-season economic boost.

Grand Rapids CVB names new leader

Grand Rapids’ growing reputation as a preferred city for conventions brings tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars into the local economy, and with that growth in mind, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has selected a new leader with a proven track record to continue the momentum.

Housing bill may save Michigan homeowners from foreclosure

As the West Michigan faces the foreclosure crisis and homeowners fight to keep their families in their homes, a new federal bill could rescue up to 15 percent of those homeowners and help to stabilize a struggling economy.

Vote for Michigan!

Football season hasn’t even started, but Michigan and Virginia are head-to-head in spirited competition.

Grand Rapids, Lakeshore rank in top 10 metro areas for fast-growth companies

A study showing that West Michigan’s fastest growing companies span all industries and employment ranges contradicts conventional thought that Michigan’s future lies in targeted industries or in pulling in new, untested entrepreneurs.

Backers say Grand Rapids streetcar could bring $400M in development

A recent feasibility study of the proposed streetcar system for downtown Grand Rapids says the streetcar could spur $400 million in development by way of restaurants, stores and more—which means more jobs for the region.

Michigan’s population growth of young adults outpaces nationwide average

It’s time to dispel the brain drain myth: stories of Michigan’s young people hitting the road after graduation and never looking back may have some merit. But a recent study says that during the same time state officials were worried about the loss the population of young adults was on the rise, outpacing the rest of the country.

GVSU to offer Chinese studies major, doctoral of nursing practice

China continues to grow as a worldwide force and demand for healthcare management professionals continues to rise in West Michigan. So one West Michigan university recently responded by establishing the region’s first degree program in Chinese language and culture, and a separate doctorate program in nursing practice.

Manufacturers’ demands for skilled workers outnumber college grads

Michigan manufacturing is in the midst of a conundrum: the number of jobs is decreasing while manufacturing output is increasing. The solution could be engineers with high-level tech and manufacturing skills.

Pure Michigan sells Great Lakes tourism to international market

The push to bring out-of-state travelers and their wallets to Michigan reached beyond U.S. borders this week when a state tourism official played host and tour guide to a cadre of European travel agents in hopes of encouraging overseas travel to the state.

Wheelchair-bound vets soon to have access to century-old veterans’ park

Amid a city-wide push to upgrade parks and enhance the quality of place for all residents, one century-old veterans park that many residents haven’t even heard of is getting a major facelift thanks to some private organizations.

Michigan signs Great Lakes compact

As states across the nation experience water shortages, the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces are enacting new policies to sustain the region's robust supplies.

Ford International Airport adds non-stop international flights

As West Michigan continues to attract professionals from other countries to work in its healthcare and life sciences industries, the availability of international travel options is key to keeping those talented workers mobile and connected.

Governor signs Centers for Energy Excellence bill, Holland biofuel project could benefit

In response to the push from business and legislative leaders to develop an alternative energy agenda for Michigan, state leaders are creating a new program that will target specific areas of the state for an influx of federal, state, and local funding for alternative energy research and development.

Handful of Grand Rapids developments could spur investments of $146.5M over next five years

Grand Rapids redevelopment has leveraged billions of dollars of investment in the past two decades, and another $146.5 million is on the drawing board if just six proposed projects come through.

New energy policy hits Gov. Granholm's desk

With proposals on the table from several companies who want to bring billions of dollars of wind, solar, and biofuel energy projects to the state, lawmakers sent a number of bills to the governor for consideration, bills that would provide the financial incentives to lure those businesses, the jobs, and the money to Michigan.

Pure Michigan campaign drives record numbers of travelers to web site

Experts say that 65 percent of people who visit Michigan’s tourism web site visit the state, spend money, and provide a vital boost to the economy, and that’s promising after the state tourism site logged two record-breaking days of traffic.

Michigan nears agreement on Great Lakes Compact

After years of debating new laws to promote sustainable water withdrawals, Michigan lawmakers reached agreement on a deal this week, which will move the matter to the governor’s desk for signing.

Milwaukee paper says West Michigan stands out on Lake Michigan Circle Tour

Planning a roadtrip on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, a driving route that carries travelers along the scenic shoreline ringing Lake Michigan? One Milwaukee travel writer suggests a ferry ride to Muskegon’s sights and then a short inland trip to Grand Rapids’ art galleries, museums and eateries makes the trip well worth the time.

$9.3B healthcare industry responsible for 147,000 West Michigan jobs

While a lot of the healthcare growth can be seen in the new construction along Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, there’s even more growth driving Kent and Kalamazoo Counties’ economies, and experts don’t see an end to it.

Film industry incentives pump $233M into state economy

In the midst of criticism of state legislators for creating costly tax incentives to lure filmmakers to the state, one state representative and a filmmaker encourage residents to let the story play out, citing some $233 million already brought into the state—some of that in West Michigan—as well as new jobs.

Small West Michigan businesses ready to cash in on film industry incentives

As the debate over the wisdom of creating the most aggressive incentives in the country to entice Hollywood’s film industry to bring their millions to Michigan heats up, film industry small businesses are gearing up to cash in on filmmakers’ needs for crews, facilities, and logistics that work.

Cascade Engineering names first distributor of residential wind turbines

An innovative new residential wind turbine could revolutionize how wind energy is harvested in the U.S. and the product is ready to enter the market via its first distributorship, a West Michigan company.

University of Minnesota presents study findings on E. coli in Lake Superior fish

E. coli created by goose and gull droppings and human wastewater may be the cause of E. coli in fish in Minnesota’s Superior Harbor, but researchers say the fish are safe to eat.

Gas travel incentives include waterfront destinations with sun and fun

With fuel costs rising, many Michiganders are opting for vacations close to home and one organization aims to help that idea along by offering some enticing incentives that help defray gas expenses and keep more money in travelers’ pockets.

Ohio joins Great Lakes Compact to sustain robust regional water supplies

As southern and west coast states slowly run out of water, many fear the Great Lakes’ seemingly unlimited quantities loom large on their radar. So, state by state, Great Lakes legislators have said no to diverting this precious resource.

Battle Creek editorial calls for action on Great Lakes restoration plan

$20 billion is a lot of money, but, according to one study, an investment of that amount to clean up the Great Lakes could generate nearly three times that amount in jobs and economic investment.

NY group launches boat tour to encourage Obama, McCain to restore Great Lakes

The United States’ largest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes, is threatened by pollution, invasive species, loss of wildlife and fish habitat and other dangers. Now one forward thinking New York coalition has launched a boat tour to Great Lakes ports in the hopes of garnering national attention and a promise of action from presidential candidates.

In Utah, notice of Meijer Gardens

Grand Rapids continues to bring the works of world famous artists to its local galleries, and those exhibits are drawing national attention to the city’s love for creative endeavor. That, in turn, encourages art lovers from outside the region to spend time and money seeing the sights.

West MI primed for wind, solar energy innovations, experts say

As Michigan’s political leaders drag their feet on creating a workable policy that spurs development and jobs around alternative energy one West Michigan business leader says emerging energy technologies and Michigan’s geography are a perfect match—including a possible wind farm in Lake Michigan—and a recent energy symposium in Holland launched a new conversation.

Growth in staffing companies suggests growth in West Michigan businesses

Unemployment took another jump this week, but the West Michigan job news scene isn’t all bad with current trends showing that staffing agencies are placing more and more employees in positions that range from highly-skilled trades jobs to research positions, and that means that there are manufacturing and knowledge jobs to be had.

GVSU communications students launch PR business on-campus

A new college student -founded and -led PR firm based on a college campus helps students learn the joys and pitfalls—things they can’t learn in the classroom—firsthand, and since they’ve already landed clients, maybe they’ll be encouraged and stick around to start businesses here after graduation.

Michigan advocates say push ahead with Great Lakes protection efforts

The forthcoming federal money for cleaning up, stopping the spread of invasive species, and remediating toxic hot spots or wildlife habitat in the Great Lakes region falls woefully short of what's need to accomplish goals established way back in 2005, and Michigan’s top brass says it time to stop waiting to take action. Is anyone listening?

Hertz taps Grand Rapids firm to design China locations

Just as design leaders across West Michigan are gathering to form the first national initiative for design as an industry, one local design firm lands a groundbreaking design contract to create the model retail location for an international rental car firm’s venture into China.

Michigan residents give Grand Rapids high marks compared to southeast side of state

Closing the gap of perceptions between residents on the east and west sides of the state is an important step in unifying opinions, politics, and economic strategies.

Greenville’s United Solar Ovonic to add 400 jobs

A statewide push to delve deeper into alternative energy solutions just got a jumpstart with the announcement that a leading global manufacturer of solar laminate products will hire record numbers of West Michigan workers.

Grand Rapids touted as ‘must do’ road trip by Indianapolis publication

Auto travel and high fuel costs don’t often mix, but this Indiana travel writer says making the drive to discover West Michigan’s vibrant art scene, bar and restaurant hotspots, and the family activities along the lakeshore is worth the time and money.

Great Lakes’ water conservation will spur waves of entrepreneurial opportunities

As potable fresh water becomes more scarce, Great Lakes states are in a unique position to meet the demand for designers, manufacturers, retailers and creators of ‘green’ water technologies; and that means opportunity, money, and jobs for the only region where 35 million people depend on Great Lakes water.

Feds could approve $2B funding to create alternative energy jobs in Michigan

Michigan has the ability to compete in the alternative energy industries, but the lack of tax incentives and funding for research is holding companies back and high prices for hybrid cars are preventing green-minded consumers from buying…until this proposed legislation goes through.

Middle East expansion may be on horizon for West Michigan businesses

West Michigan’s competitive edge as leading manufacturers and tradesmen will serve it well in the burgeoning Middle Eastern market, and experts are standing by, ready to help companies cash in on some of the $1.6 trillion dollars waiting to be invested in equipment, knowledge, and technology West Michigan companies can provide.

First-ever regional policy conference planned for West Michigan

West Michigan business and community leaders are frustrated with not being heard in Lansing, and the first-ever regional policy conference aims to set a new precedent for establishing expectations of lawmakers, creating position statements and opening a line of communication that promotes economic development and prosperity across the region.

GrandWalk project continues steady move forward

As the sustainability movement catches on around the globe, one small industrial area in West Michigan has been the focus of decades of discussions around green business practices, green education, green restoration, and green manufacturing and now real ‘green’ is flowing with the promise of greener things to come.

Spectrum Health daycare rises on former Bishop’s Furniture property

Quality childcare close to a parent’s employer is a key issue for attracting and retaining outstanding healthcare professionals to West Michigan, and a benefit of working for one of the area’s most prominent healthcare facilities.

Boaters, marinas reap benefits of rising lake levels

Falling water levels have plagued Michigan lakes, leaving boaters unable to reach their docks and marinas footing the bill for dredging, but not so this year.

U.S. Farm bill funds alternative energy, farmers’ markets

A new federal farm bill could bring millions to West Michigan to fund the development of commercial biofuel plants, subsidize farmers with specialty crops, and provide discounts to senior citizens who purchase fresh food from farmers’ markets.

New GR film office targets moviemakers to boost regional economy

With one of the country’s best tax incentive programs for filmmakers now in place, Grand Rapids is gearing up for an influx of film crews who will bring out-of-state dollars to area hotels, restaurants, and other services, and will provide film crew jobs for local workers.

Illinois county leaders say fresh water supply an increasing concern

As freshwater resources dwindle, one Illinois county faces a double-whammy of immense proportions: 140,000 more people and not enough water to go around.

337 manufacturing, R & D jobs coming to Greenville

Renaissance zone tax credits and state-funded job training grants convinced one growing manufacturer to expand in West Michigan instead of Indiana, bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

Teens lead new wave of West Michigan science researchers

On the leading edge of future discoveries in medicine, social science, and mental health are seven West Michigan high-school students who just wrapped up individual three-year research projects conducted under the tutelage of some of the state’s top leaders in the medical and science fields.

Regional transit agency is expanding commuter choices

Around the globe, mass transit has proven to be an integral piece of drawing professional talent to an area and spurring millions in economic development.

‘Green’ know-how makes job-seekers more attractive to employers

With the strong emphasis on clean energy that’s sweeping the globe, many manufacturing and technical skills are transferable to alternative energy production efforts.

Local officials scramble to set clean energy ordinances

The need to have ordinances in place that will advance clean energy endeavors in West Michigan instead of prohibit them is on the rise and township and county officials are scrambling to create those ordinances to regulate the construction of wind farms, wind turbines, and test equipment.

Seeds for wind farming planted on Fruit Ridge

As West Michigan manufacturers and alternative energy leaders slowly move the region toward production of clean energy components and equipment, a Spain-based company has already been at work for two years securing wind rights from farmers in northern Ottawa County.

Goodwill embraces WIRED’s career readiness certificate

A national work readiness training program is taking hold in West Michigan, and one company that provides assistance to persons with vocational barriers touts the program as a key component in developing skills to make workers more employable.

West Michigan must re-think old theories on design, creative services

One local company says its time to rethink the outdated emphasis on large creative services companies and embrace a more diverse means for designers to fulfill customer needs.

Grand Rapids ranked 8th on national list of growing real estate markets

The housing market may be down, but one national magazine’s research says that the Grand Rapids market is growing and yields a substantial return on investment.

GVSU expands programming to leverage growing medical, life sciences sector

The growing life sciences and medical sector in West Michigan will soon needs workers and one university has stepped up its a proactive approach to positioning future workers to meet the industry’s needs.

GR planning director advocates for increased density, less surface parking

By adopting new zoning practices that promote population density and mixed-use clusters, Grand Rapids planners have been able to focus on the way property is used, spurring revitalization in targeted areas and best use practices for lands and neighborhoods.

Vanpooling gets green light from MDOT

Rising fuel costs and a statewide push to reduce energy consumption have West Michigan residents searching for alternative, less costly means of getting to and from work, and, for some, vanpooling may be the solution.

GR Chamber marks 10 years of healing racism

Cultural diversity is a key factor in creating a welcoming and attractive environment that draws talented professionals from a variety of backgrounds to West Michigan, and one group is celebrating a decade of promoting cultural growth by breaking down racial barriers.

Nonprofits, city unite to strengthen GR neighborhoods hit by foreclosures

Area nonprofit housing developers have invested millions in revitalizing Grand Rapids residential neighborhoods and now they’re stepping up to help the city save hundreds of homes left in the wake of the recent foreclosure epidemic.

Wind turbines a possibility on two Great Lakes

Amid a nationwide movement to harness wind power and reduce greenhouse gases, three Wisconsin developers have launched a feasibility study for establishing wind farms offshore in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Influx of med students expected to boost GR economy

Housing, entertainment, banking, and retail are just some of the industries expecting to reap the benefits of some 400 medical school students who will relocate to Grand Rapids each year to attend the MSU College of Human Medicine.

Tourism funding increase may become longterm investment

If a recent allocation of $45 million in tourism promotion monies garners a significant return on investment, the funding boost could become the state’s proving ground that garners the tourism industry longterm funding.

Med tech firm announces 3,300 new jobs in southwest MI

In the wake of one of the country’s largest pharmaceutical firms leaving the region, the dream of a thriving life sciences corridor in southwest Michigan got a major boost this week with the announcement that thousands of new research and development jobs are to be had.

Finally, the Michigan House acts to promote energy innovation

Michigan economic leaders cleared their first alternative energy hurdle last week when the House approved a package of bills establishing a renewable energy portfolio standard, touted as the key factor in attracting clean energy manufacturing, investment, and jobs.

State film incentives bring stars, economic boost to a city near you

Earlier this month Michigan established a tax incentive package to entice filmmakers to bring what lawmakers hope will be multi-millions of dollars to the state’s economy and create new local jobs in the film industry.

High percentage of GVSU grads land Michigan jobs

The horror stories about Michigan’s mass exodus of college grads might leave one wondering if there are any young people left in the state. But GVSU’s record says an amazing 79 percent of its grads are finding jobs right here in West Michigan.

MichBio Funding Workshop demystifies funding options for biotech companies

A workshop at the upcoming MichBio conference will walk biotech companies through the maze of government, quasi-government, and private funding options so technology leaders can generate needed capital and keep their companies’ growth on track.

EPA awards $800K to clean up West Michigan brownfields

The federal government has released $74 million to 43 states for cleaning up contaminated and obsolete sites, and for the first time in history Michigan receives a portion of the funding.

New York Times prints Michigan's good news

Good, hopeful, uplifting events are happening all around us in Michigan, and one resident, during a trip to New York, says the national opinion of the state isn’t informed by the good stuff because it’s just not getting enough press.

Aquinas’s sustainability degree goes post-grad

The sustainable business degree at Aquinas is doing more than just attracting students from across the nation to its small campus in the middle of Grand Rapids, it’s generating excitement for the concepts and creating the desire in students to stay involved all the way through a Master’s program.

Grand Rapids mayor declares aggressive clean energy goals

While lawmakers in Lansing stall over the state's future in green energy technologies, and consider allowing the utility companies to build more coal-generated plants, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell is determined to pursue what could be the most aggressive renewable energy plan in the U.S.

Michigan's energy leaders call for incentives and a renewable portfolio standard

Green energy proponents say Michigan is ripe for generating serious jobs, investment, and profit in the alternative energy industry, but lawmakers must first modernize the state's energy agenda to position Michigan as a viable competitor in the market.

West Michigan companies named to 101 Best and Brightest

This year's list of West Michigan companies who rank high on the list of innovative human resources strategies join an elite group of the region's top places to work, and are key to the region for attracting and retaining professional talent in industries ranging from construction to communications.

Steelcase goes to TX for wind power

Amid a clamor in Michigan for the development of the renewable energy industry, one West Michigan furniture manufacturer is determined to offset some 20 percent of its energy consumption with wind energy—even if it means building its own wind farm out of state.

New Kent County animal shelter just one of many changes on campus

Years of operating from a too-small, outdated facility will come to an end when an expanded, modern animal shelter is completed next fall.

Meijer Gardens breaks ground on $7.6M in improvements

After 13 years of expanding its programs, art offerings, sculpture gardens, and botanical gardens, this West Michigan staple needs a major facelift—and that means the installation architectural works of art and upgrades to visitor amenities.

Lieutenant Governors Association adopts Great Lakes Compact

Amid the debate over exporting Great Lakes water to drought-stricken states around the country, the National Lieutenant Governors Association is urging all Great Lakes states to adopt a joint resolution protecting the water and requiring the next president to outline a plan of protection.

State tourism could get $40M boost to market winter getaways

For the first time ever, the state tourism industry is poised to promote Michigan as a winter getaway wonderland, and lawmakers are supporting the move with by adding $40 million to the tourism budget.

Hollywood's coming to town—and bringing jobs with it

After 18 months of working to push through a film industry tax incentive that could create thousands of Michigan jobs, Lansing has answered with a definitive Yes.

Grand Rapids joins the mobile banking movement

Mobile banking has hit a new high and continues to climb, motivating area banks to gear up their technology for customers on the move.

Eight Michigan health systems form coalition to improve services, costs

With a focus of bringing value to their communities and the state, eight Michigan healthcare organizations are working together to break down competitive barriers.

Grand Rapids IT company aggressively hiring web designers

One major technology employer in West Michigan aims to make web development easier for clients by creating a specialty division.

$7M Hyatt hotel planned for Grand Rapids' Health Hill

Medical research, treatments, and clinical trials are bringing more and more people to Grand Rapids, and one developer plans to put a 149-room hotel in the midst of the "medical mile" to accommodate those visitors.

Michigan works to connect investors with inventors, build the knowledge economy

As Michigan struggles to attract knowledge economy workers, drive innovation, and find new relevance for the manufacturing skill and capability across the state, a number of groups are moving forward on what they say is a strategy to attract jobs and workers.

College Avenue bridge over I-196 to be replaced beginning this fall

As part of a larger $20 million project to replace bridges, restructure underpasses, and widen the I-196 highway that parallels Health Hill, the replacement of the College Avenue bridge has been moved up three years.

Granholm urges lawmakers to pass energy package

Strong state policy to promote energy innovation is a proven strategy to generate jobs, attract new investment, and boost Michigan's competitiveness in the global economy. But a number of lawmakers in Lansing still believe the costs of change are simply too high.

Literacy Center's success draws national spotlight

In Grand Rapids, 20 percent of residents are illiterate, and the methods of one organization to use grants and community volunteers to cut illiteracy in half in the next decade is changing the social landscape and attracting national attention.

State's natural resources worth $1.6B annually study says

Efforts to undertake the enormous, and somewhat intangible, task of assessing the state's green infrastructure, its monetary worth, and its value as a quality of life amenity that appeals to talented professionals are detailed in a recent study that values Michigan's environmental attributes at $1.6 billion annually.

Partnership leads to online resource for West Michigan Tech Jobs listings

West Michigan businesses continue to face the challenge of finding qualified high-tech professionals to fill job openings and lead development teams. But that could change after two influential online technology resources have combined forces to establish a comprehensive jobs list connecting employers with the talent they seek.

Aquinas recruits star athlete to spearhead sports center campaign

Aquinas College wants to add a sports and fitness center to the campus, and they've brought home one of Grand Rapids' most famous athletes to lead the capital campaign and increase the college's endowment fund.

Entrepreneurship 101 a growing trend, colleges say

As Michigan's need for creative, innovative thinkers continues to grow, a majority of the state's colleges and universities are transforming their curriculum programs to focus on entrepreneurism, from retraining factory workers to helping small businesses grow.

Economic leaders target talent growth

West Michigan's business leaders find it increasingly difficult to find the talent they need to spur business growth and fuel Michigan's economic recovery, but a new coalition of economic development corporations has a plan to change all that.

Cascade manufacturer evolves into wind energy

As Michigan sits on the cusp of what researchers and business leaders say is a new energy economy, one West Michigan manufacturer is ahead of the curve and already ramping up for production.

Manufacturing in West Michigan rides tide of change

Manufacturing ain't what it used to be in Michigan, but business leaders and economic experts say that, with the right talent and a new way of doing business, manufacturing is still a viable leader in the knowledge economy.

Michigan's tourism industry gets $60M boost from state

Tourism proponents say that getting travelers to Michigan is key in bringing money to the state and jobs to tourist regions, and the governor's recent proposal to allocate $60 million to the tourism industry for advertising will go a long way toward making that happen.

Michigan House streamlines driver's license rules to grow foreign talent

Citing the need to attract global talent to Michigan as a means to spur a rise in the number and quality of knowledge economy workers and, thereby, ramp up economic revitalization, the state House passed legislation saying that individuals do not need to meet federal Real ID criteria to qualify for a driver's license.

Economist says better days ahead for MI manufacturing

Michigan remained in a recession in the last quarter of 2007, but one economist says the state's manufacturing sector is going to pull the state out of it's economic slump and make it a leader in many emerging global markets.

Michigan entrepreneurs ready to change state's image

When the automotive industry first took hold, Michigan became the most entrepreneurial state in the union, and business leaders aim to make it number one again with the help of some enterprising economic development corporations who are leading the charge.

Swedish tech company finds home in Grand Rapids

A Swedish technology firm that moved to Grand Rapids is slowly taking the furniture design world by storm, allowing furniture designers to spend less time learning the software and more time creating designs that fuel the local furniture industry.

Grand Rapids' $29 million Rapid Bus leads Michigan's mass transit movement

With a $29 million boost from the feds, Grand Rapids' sleek train-like Bus Rapid Transit line will bring riders to the central city in style, increasing mass transit options and further accelerating the revitalization of Michigan's second largest urban area.

Grand Rapids High Schools to get renewed facilities and purpose

After successfully completing the renovation and new construction of nearly a dozen elementary and middle schools, the Grand Rapids Public Schools is ready to tackle the renovation of several high schools and the creation of several specialized learning programs.

Granholm urges state to invest in change

A commitment to diversifying the economy, strengthening education, and healthcare for every family topped Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm's list of investments necessary to accelerate the state's economic transition.

More tax credits, historic districts, and condos coming to Grand Rapids

The development boom in Grand Rapids shows no sign of slowing down and, as developers pursue tax incentives to keep costs down on new downtown projects, whole neighborhoods are pursuing historic status to keep certain types of development at bay.

Muskegon residents support sustainable water use laws

Historic droughts around the US, water bottling plants tapping Michigan's underground water, and a push to clean up the Great Lakes Basin have all focused attention on the state's water wonderland. Muskegon residents recently voiced their opinion about where their water goes and how it's used. 

Green infrastructure gets new leadership in West Michigan

A variety of green infrastructure projects and initiatives in West Michigan will continue under new leadership as an interim project manager for the West Michigan Strategic Alliance takes the helm. Objectives in 2008 include safeguarding critical areas of biodiversity, protecting shoreline, promoting regional trails and greenways, and more.

MI Senate calls for 10 percent renewable energy by 2015

With dozens of manufacturers across the state chomping at the bit to jump into the alternative energy business, the Michigan Senate is considering a package of bills that would require Michigan to obtain 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.

MDOT rebuilding, eventually widening, I-196 through downtown GR

The Michigan Department of Transportation continues to move forward with a major reconstruction and expansion of the I-196 highway through downtown Grand Rapids. Last week the agency sponsored a session to solicit citizen ideas for how the new roadway and bridges should look, feel, and function.

Design industry key to growing West Michigan's knowledge economy

Design as a viable industry and driving economic force in West Michigan may be becoming a feasible, marketable product, and regional leaders are proposing plans for a Design Thinking Institute, a program to recognize good design publicly, and a plan to create a design-based curriculum for elementary school students.

New alliance aims to promote diversity in construction industry

The construction boom in downtown Grand Rapids employs countless workers, and one group's goal is to bring ethnic and gender diversity into that workforce through skills training and by creating a pool of workers who are job ready.

Massachusetts company buys leading Grand Rapids foam plastic manufacturer

As West Michigan struggles to regain its footing as a key player in the automotive manufacturing sector, out-of-state investors are taking interest in the region's manufacturing capabilities and skilled workers.

Metro Health Development could mean thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue

Banks, hotels, medical offices of every shape and size, a new YMCA, educational facilities, restaurants, and more are springing up, or about to spring up, in and around the new medical complex that spurred all the development, ultimately bringing thousands of jobs to Michigan’s fastest growing township.

Four new hotels could grace the downtown Grand Rapids' skyline

Hotel operators are betting the medical and convention booms hitting Grand Rapids are going to draw tourists, business owners, and families downtown. That bet prompted developers to create plans for four new downtown hotels.

Outside investors sink $150M in West Michigan properties

West Michigan's commercial properties are catching the eye of out-of-state investors and last year's estimated $150 million in property investment is the proof.

One-third of West Michigan companies surveyed plan to hire IT staff in 2008

Although many West Michigan businesses have reduced their workforce in the past year, a recent survey reveals that 52 percent of companies with under 50 employees plan to add technology staff in 2008.

Grand Rapids tortilla chip company fuels expansion of Detroit food producer

The opportunity to expand to West Michigan clinched the deal for a Detroit-area food producer looking to expand its brand and increase its capacity.

Diversification keeps local autoworkers employed making medical devices

The demand for specialty medical devices is growing and West Michigan's workforce is uniquely skilled to meet the challenge.

Holiday shoppers buy local and benefit neighborhood businesses

Recent holiday shopping events around West Michigan indicate that, as organizations like Local First and area business associations tout the economic advantages of shopping at locally owned businesses, shoppers are listening and taking the information to heart.

Cultural diversity is key to West Michigan's economic development strategy

If West Michigan is to compete successfully in the global marketplace, the community must welcome and embrace people from different cultural backgrounds, races, and genders.

Streetcar proposal rides on study and community input

Investing in modern mass transit is no longer an experiment. Several cities have proven, for example, that spending to build modern streetcar systems can spur economic development that far exceeds the costs of the new infrastructure. Grand Rapids leaders understand that, but they are still conducting a study of the idea before laying the first track.

$100K needed for study of Greater Kent County transit needs

As cities across North America invest billions in public transit infrastructure to boost their economy and quality of life, residents in suburban and rural Kent County continue to ask for more transportation options. The regional transit agency has pledged $100,000 for a needs study. But the study will cost twice that amount. The challenge is getting county leaders on board. 

Grand Rapids metro ranks as one of nation's most affordable housing markets

Although the housing market across the country is in a recession, the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area ranks as one of the most affordable housing markets in the US.

NY Times touts GVSU classical CD as one of the year's best

After a year of work and study, GVSU's New Music Ensemble launched a landmark CD in October, showcasing one American composer's work.

Advocates move Michigan's financial literacy curriculum forward

Businesses reap the benefits of employees who are financially savvy. To that end, advocates of the State Board of Education's mandate that require high schools to teach financial literacy are working to move the concept to include instruction at the elementary school level.

Grand Rapids demands more renewable energy

Keeping with a vision to attain 20 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, the City of Grand Rapids has become the biggest player in Consumers Energy's Green Generation program.

Grand Rapids debates green energy purchase plan

The City of Grand Rapids stands at the forefront of the campaign to promote energy innovation and renewable fuels in America. Now the city leaders are considering a proposal to become the largest purchaser of green power from Consumers Energy.

Mayor announces retirement of Grand Rapids City Clerk

After nearly 35 years of dedicated service, one city employee will retire, leaving some mighty big shoes to fill.

400 African American actors, artists, and Christian leaders collaborate on audio series

After three years of work, a Grand Rapids-based bible publisher has launched an audio series of the complete Bible as performed by famous African American actors—including Denzel Washington, Alfre Woodard, and Forest Whitaker—backed up by sound effects and original scores.

Michigan lawmakers reject President's veto of bill to enhance Great Lakes

In an unusual display of solidarity, Michigan democrats and republicans voted to support a bill providing billions of dollars for water pollution cleanup, sewage control to prevent the contamination of Great Lakes beaches, shoreline protection for the Detroit River, and more.

Calvin lands grant to teach engineering students entrepreneurship

Competent entrepreneurship will propel West Michigan's economic future by generating jobs and investment opportunities, and one local college is retooling its engineering curriculum to teach students how to turn an engineering idea into a business opportunity.

Oklahoma travel writer touts Grand Rapids' sights and sound

In a recent visit to Grand Rapids, one journalist found that the city's cultural attractions, tasty eateries, and horse-drawn carriages made a trip well worth taking.

Medical Device Consortium opens doors for new members

With a charter and membership criteria in place, a new West Michigan medical device consortium aims to leverage the members' collective expertise, attract other businesses, and market the region as a destination for medical device design, development and production.

Streetcar investment could accelerate Grand Rapids' revival

For about the same money it cost to build the Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids could develop a streetcar system that would return billions of dollars to the local economy, just like the streetcar system in places like Portland, OR has brought some $3 billion to that city in less than a decade.

Seattle streetcar ready to roll in December

It cost $51 million to build and will be tested over the next eight weeks, but all indications are that Seattle's new commuter train is on track for it's first run in mid-December.

Grand Rapids launches study of rebuilding urban streetcar system

With an eye toward spurring economic development in downtown Grand Rapids, The Rapid transit board approved an eight-month feasibility study for establishing a streetcar line downtown.

80 US cities studying, building, or expanding streetcar systems

Cities across the country are looking to cash in on the same kind of dramatic commercial and housing development experienced by Portland, OR after its streetcar system was introduced a few years ago.

Scottsdale studies streetcar to expand transportation choices

Light rail in Scottsdale could be one method of providing residents with broader transit options for transportation to work, shopping, and cultural destinations, and could spur development and interurban connections.

Young professionals will gravitate to Cincinnati streetcar

Artistic vision and design are key economic drivers for the future of West Michigan, and creative young professionals, like those in Cincinnati, are looking for more than a community of kindred spirits—they want the transit options offered in forward thinking that attract young professionals who stay, create, and build the economy.

Streetcar back on track in New Orleans

A vital piece of New Orleans' transportation history is back on track for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

Grand Rapids company returns from bankruptcy, possibly with dozens of jobs

In an era when many economists say West Michigan's industrial age is over, one Grand Rapids entrepreneur has proven them wrong by resurrecting a bankrupt company, landing a Chrysler contract, and employing 30 people—and he says that's just the beginning.

Grand Rapids Public Schools propose innovative effort to drive a future-oriented economy

In response to recent budget woes and other challenges the Grand Rapids Public School system has faced in recent years, school leaders have proposed public/private partnerships that will create innovative schools and prepare students to lead the city's economic growth.

Grand Rapids poised to put Michigan on transit map

Detroit's civic leaders are watching Grand Rapids closely as the West Michigan city seeks federal funding for a new Bus Rapid Transit system that could revolutionize the state's transit system.

Saipan welcomes WWII photos from West Michigan family

Rare photos of Saipan may corroborate the theory that Amelia Earhart spent her last days on the island in the hands of the Japanese, and the West Michigan family who owns the photos is donating them for further research.

Streetcar sought to solve Cincinnati budget crunch

Citing an estimated $1.4 billion economic return to the city, leaders in Cincinnati recently proposed spending $102 million on a streetcar line to dig the city out of ia $29 million budget deficity, its largest ever.

Mayweather wants GR kids to train like Dancing with the Stars

They may float gracefully across the stage, but all the stars in one of TV's hottest dance competitions say the training is grueling—and slimming—and, Floyd Mayweather, one of this season's stars, hopes to bring that physical training to the kids in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

GR Chamber recognizes top minority-owned businesses

Two minority-owned design and construction firms have garnered top honors at the upcoming Minority Business Celebration and, as minority-owned businesses in those sectors continue to grow in number, a diversity of firms working together is key to maintaining the momentum.

West Michigan seeks - and scores - top young science talent

A recent study of West and Southwest Michigan's life sciences industry finds that a growing cluster of firms will create an attraction for young scientists and researchers looking to move to, or back to, the area.

Grand Rapids ready to compete for tourism

With all the growth and development taking place in Grand Rapids, the city has a lot to be proud of, and with a new hotel in its midst it's geared up to compete globally for convention and tourism business.

Metro Health's eco-design saves energy while hospital pampers patients

Metro Health is vying for more than its current 12 percent of the local healthcare market, and appealing to patients through its earth-friendly design is part of the package.

Grand Rapids employs more than most of state

Grand Rapids had the one of the highest employment rates in the state in August, and that holds true for much of West Michigan, posting strong growth in payroll jobs that anywhere in the state.

Making medical devices brings opportunities to area manufacturers

With West Michigan's strong ties to manufacturing, many companies are looking to diversify into medical device manufacturing, and the prospects are encouraging.

Largest residential builder expands to GR

Despite marked downturns in the housing market, one Portage builder has become the top residential construction firm in the Grand Rapids area.

Eco-friendliness begins at the table

Farm fresh foods and garden fresh veggies prepared by a local chef and eaten by local folks at a local restaurant are just part of the eco-friendly aspects of a fundraiser for two nonprofits whose mission is to make people aware of how eco-friendly practices can start at the dinner table.

Two area HMOs awarded top honors for quality heath care

As West Michigan's healthcare community continues to attract new doctors, nurses, and other professionals to the region, many of the healthcare providers and HMOs lead the state in quality care practices.

WIRED on the move

After months of conceptualization and research centered around boosting West Michigan's competitiveness, WIRED is ready to launch it's second phase: execution of ideas on generating jobs thorough innovation, manufacturing, healthcare and design.

Alternative Energy manufacturing could bring big bucks to W MI

In a effort to assess how and if the manufacturing capabilities of West Michigan can be redirected to advance energy innovation, two local organizations have launched a seven-county study.

Great Lakes key economic competitiveness, according to D.C. think tank

As Congress sits on a proposal to spend $26 billion to clean up the Great Lakes, a new report confirms that the health of the Great Lakes is the driving force behind the region's economy and a cleanup could bring $50 billion of direct economic benefit.

West Michigan Sports Commission off to a running start

Sports tourism could infuse the West Michigan economy with millions of dollars over the next ten years, as well as bring top-notch sports entertainment to the region.

Hispanic heritage honored at local colleges

Colleges around Grand Rapids are planning events this month to honor the independence of several Latin American countries, but one presentation at Grand Valley State University aims to spur individuals to take action regarding the country's ongoing immigration debate.

'Green' philanthropist puts GR in international spotlight

One of Grand Rapids' most prominent visionaries with a passion for saving the environment has donated multiple millions for environmental research and LEED-certified public buildings.

Grand Rapids own Gerald Ford commemorated on US postage stamp

Last Friday, 80 million commemorative stamps honoring former president Gerald R. Ford went on sale, the same day simultaneous ceremonies for the unveiling took place in Ford's hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan and near his home in Palm Desert, California.

Proposed bill increases funding for state's tourism industry

As Michigan business leaders look to create jobs and replace losses in manufacturing, the tourism industry could be a big part of the solution.

Farmland prices rise as ethanol production takes off

As West Michigan takes the first steps to becoming a major player in the production of alternative fuels, such as, corn-based ethanol, farmers are enjoying a jump in commodity prices and land values.

President of The Right Place wins ATHENA award

For the 18th year, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is honoring women community leaders with awards that recognize their contributions to business, the community, and to helping other women overcome obstacles and achieve goals.

Life science study says $1B investment could bring $5B and 1,100 jobs

A recent study of the life sciences industry in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo says the key to moving the industry into the international spotlight is generating intellectual property, and that will lure the talent and capital needed to sustain momentum.

Housing and auto markets predicted to improve in 2008

After suffering through the worst housing slump in decades and losses of jobs and manufacturers because of declining auto sales, economic experts at the University of Michigan predict things will turn around in early 2008.

GR named one of National Geographic's Top 50 Adventure Towns

Grand Rapids ranked among the top waterfront towns across the US in National Geographic Adventure's first-ever article highlighting the Top 50 Adventure Towns state-by-state—a ranking that puts this West Michigan city in the same spotlight as Waimea, Hawaii and Mystic, Connecticut.

Pure Michigan campaign lures tourists to Great Lakes State

The numbers are impressive: 55,000 hits a day on the Michigan.org tourism web site, nearly two million web hits in July, and a number one ranking in the US for most visits to a tourism web site.

Downtown GR condos draw empty nesters and young professionals

The urban renaissance seems to have a firm foothold in downtown Grand Rapids as new condo dwellers of all ages welcome a radical change in living and lifestyle.

Diversity and racism hot topics for KISD conference

Students with diverse cultures, ethnicities, and languages fill the classrooms of Kent Intermediate School District schools, and teachers and administrators will lead the way to understanding the differences with new initiatives and goals to be presented at the KISD's annual diversity conference.

GR schools wrap up construction

Students of two Grand Rapids schools will begin their academic year in brand new accommodations, part of a $165 million tax increase approved in 2004.

Private firm still seeks GR parking lots

A local developer says although its initial offer of $45 million for 14 Grand Rapids' parking properties was shot down by city commissioners, another offer may be put on the table.

Local bridges are safe, but some need repair

Michigan road builders say that even though the 700-plus bridges in MDOT's Grand Region are safe, the state needs to find the money to fix problems noted in the inspections before those problems become worse.

GR manufacturer invests, diversifies, and succeeds

A Grand Rapids manufacturer invests $1.8 million in one new machine that will launch the company on a diversification quest that includes new industries, new markets, and new profits.

GR city commissioners amend Ren Zone policy to encourage job growth

Recent amendments to GR’s 1997 Renaissance Zone Extension Policy are meant to generate new jobs, which would mean more tax dollars in city coffers to offset other tax losses.

Mayoral hopefuls field questions on live call-in show

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and three challengers took on questions from callers this week on live television during the first public gathering of mayoral candidates.

Plan for historic Brikyaat district adopted into GR Master Plan

After three years of research, applying for grants, collaborating with a professional planner, and more, the City of Grand Rapids unanimously voted to add the Brikyaat Plan to the city's Master Plan.

Great Lakes stewardship key to competitiveness, mayors say

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative asked its members to reduce water consumption by 15 percent, and this week 28 cities pledged their commitment to the goal.

Visitors bureau closes in on 300 DeVos Place bookings

This year promises to be the best year yet for conventions and tradeshows at DeVos Place, and the Convention and Visitors Bureau is boosting that success with plans to attract more African-American organizations to the facility.

GR Medical device makers unite

With an eye to servicing customers through a greater breadth of expertise and keeping product research local, the new West Michigan Medical Device Consortium is rocking the industry with its collaborative approach.

City pools draw swimmers galore

Excitement and anticipation ruled the "waves" as thousands of kids and their parents visited city pools this week to celebrate the opening of all six pools for the first time in two years.

Businesses benefit from green design

The fact that West Michigan has 78 percent of the LEED certified buildings in the state and 64 percent of the proposed new buildings indicates green building is going mainstream.

Recycling made easier in Kent County?

Kent County leaders are exploring new ways of recycling that could mean creating nearly hassle-free opportunities for residents to recycle household waste.

W MI business professionals stick around

Communities around the country are scrambling to attract and retain talented professionals, cultivate new energy and ideas, and fuel the knowledge economy.

Real estate companies join forces to expand

Three West Michigan real estate firms have formed an alliance to increase business and job growth.

Spartan Stores buys 20 Felpausch supermarkets

Spartan stores has signed the dotted line on the purchase of 20 Felpausch stores, including two gas stations.

Top talent key to turn state's economic turnaround

While many blame Michigan's economic decline on the downfall of the state's automakers, at least one analyst says that's not the real culprit.

Local jobs forecast leads state

A recent survey of Grand Rapids business reveals that 17 percent plan to add jobs.

Pure Michigan promotes the state’s best, tourists respond

Last year, Michigan tourism accounted for 193,000 jobs and $17.5 billion in tourists’ spending.

President Ford honored on US stamp

Grand Rapids’ favorite son will be honored in August with a commemorative stamp issued by the US Postal Service.

Buy Michigan First is state offices’ mantra

The State of Michigan wants to do business with Michigan vendors and business owners, and the opportunity arises every time the state needs essential goods and services.

GR commissioners vote against own pay hikes

With city employees facing a possible 6.4 percent pay cut, Grand Rapids City Commissioners rejected recommendations by the Local Officers Compensation Commission to increase their own pay rates and that of Mayor George Heartwell.

Michigan employees have health insurance partner

Employees can't afford to buy their own health insurance and Michigan employers can no longer shoulder the burden of the costs and remain competitive.

Harvard grad argues for W MI furniture design center

A Grand Rapids native who is graduating from Harvard this summer with masters degrees in architecture and urban planning, has plans to create an organized research and design center in West Michigan focused on promoting the area's furniture industry and expanding it as an economic driver.

Rust Belt cities ripe for growth

A Washington DC institute says states are not using the appeal of older cities to help them draw residential development, commercial enterprise, and tourism to those urban centers.

The Rapid “yes” vote to make a difference next year

Expanded weekend and weeknight services, more bus routes, increased regional connections, and new buses will be the benefits of the millage increase approved by voters last week.

GR Internet advertising agency doubles employee base, posts record earnings

A Grand Rapids based internet advertising agency has doubled its employee base since the beginning of 2007.

$120M GR airport project moves forward

The bidding process for the largest infrastructure development project in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s history has begun.

$5 million start-up fund aids technology companies

Technology start-ups in the homeland security arena can tap investments up to $250,000 and in-kind services donations to get their companies rolling.

West Mchigan job base growing

Despite a streak of job losses, West Michigan’s job base is growing at about 1,000 jobs per year.

Voters approve most spending increases on Tuesday’s ballot

Last Tuesday’s election proved fruitful for most of the proposals, including a vote for increased millage for the proposed expansion of The Rapid.

Ten West Michigan companies receive highest honors in ‘Best and Brightest’ competition

Ten West Michigan companies were honored with the coveted Elite Winners award, part of the annual 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For awards competition.

All city pools will be open this summer

Fundraising efforts have amassed $250,000 toward the $300,000 needed to re-open all six of Grand Rapids’ city pools this summer.

W MI volunteers honored with 2007 Governor’s Service Awards

Several West Michigan residents will be honored next month for their exemplary leadership in volunteerism when they are awarded the state’s highest honors for volunteers.

Kent County Sports Commission moving forward

One hundred applicants for executive director of the Kent County Sports Commission have been narrowed to three.

Growing electronics engineering firm finds niche in aerospace industry

The FAA, FDA, Stryker, and X-Rite all know what a local company can accomplish with embedded safety-critical electronics components and systems: save lives.

Planned resource center for entrepreneurs will focus on women- and minority-owned businesses

Women and minorities are responsible for most of the small business start-ups across the country, but West Michigan is missing the boat.

W MI businesses cash in on international market

Global sales have strengthened many area companies, resulting in more profits and higher stock prices.

GR's first hybrid bus hits the road

Regenerative braking and an engine that runs on both diesel fuel and electricity aren't the only cost saving and environmentally friendly aspects of The Rapid's two new hybrid buses.

SBA lender turns focus on West Michigan

Five to ten percent of the SBA 504 loans generated by a Lansing company assists businesses in West Michigan to the tune of $47.5 million last year – that's double the previous year.

Sense of community key to urban revival

Building unique places that attract people, and stimulate interest, activity, and a sense of community in central cities is key to solving suburban sprawl, according to Grand Rapids Press Columnist Ben Beversluis.

Optimism surrounds W MI occupancy rates

Two new reports indicate that occupancy Michigan's commercial buildings is keeping pace with new construction, and has increased in buildings overall.

GR wins United Nations University sustainability award

Only thirty cities in the world, including now Grand Rapids, have won the UNU sustainability award.

Renaissance on the other side of "The Hill"

The east side of Michigan Street Hill is experiencing a renaissance sure to change the look and feel of the neighborhood. Developers are buying properties and making way for new mixed-use centers that will update the area and drive the trend for a new way of doing business.

Fulton Street Farmer's Market improvements on drawing board

The city's most popular Farmer's Market attracts shoppers by the thousands and boosts traffic to neighboring businesses. Proponents of a plan to upgrade the market say that making it available year round and improving automobile traffic flow are just some of the ideas for creating a dynamic catalyst to preserve the historic Brikyaat area.

Developer pursues purchase of city's parking lots, DASH

Potential buyers for nearly 70% of Grand Rapids' city-owned parking facilities could bring as much as $45 million to the table in their quest to purchase the properties.

Colleges, universities seek to increase foreign student enrollment

As enrollment increases for online classes offered by local colleges and universities, some students in foreign countries are taking advantage of the chance to garner an American education without leaving home; others find that relaxed visa regulations are making it easier for them to come to Michigan. Either way, schools hope to cash in on the trend.

EPA says Grand Rapids air quality warrants redesignation

Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency is waiting for the green light to redesignate ten Michigan regions, including Grand Rapids, for marked improvement in air quality. So what's the holdup?

$8M in Funding Available to Michigan Downtowns for Improvement Projects in 2007

$5.4 million in state grants to improve downtown housing  for across Michigan leveraged $13.9 million in additional investment and generated more than 142 full time jobs in 2006. This year the grant monies available in have increased to $8 million with the expectation that it will spur even more investment and jobs.

GR's future: what do urban developers say?

City leaders, developers, architects, and leaders in SmartGrowth sat down to discuss renovating old properties, tax incentives, infrastructure investment, density, office and retail requirements, sprawl, parking challenges, and more.

Lower property tax bill approved by House

With the housing market in the biggest slump in decades and a glut of houses on the market, the Michigan House has passed a property tax bill aimed at providing incentive for homebuyers to buy. The incentive? Homebuyers could save thousands in property taxes as the time of the sale.

GR Parks study says makeovers due

Grand Rapids parks and recreation program has been operating with a budget reduced by $2.2 million for the past three years. City pool closings and reduce park maintenance have been the result, but a special task force says it wants all the outdoor pools open this summer, and has presented several options for funding the restoration.

GR Brikyaat neighborhood envisions redevelopment

Expansion of the Fulton Street Farmers Market is just one of changes suggested by a residents of the city's Brikyaat Neighborhood. Also being considered: a historic preservation district and new housing.

Great Lakes cleanup gets boost from congressman

Great Lakes cleanup and protection legislation introduced to the congress and senate will follow the recommendations of federal, state, and local officials and mark the first major step toward preserving an area that generates billions of dollars for Great Lakes states. Funded by the Wege Foundation, among others, a coalition of conservation groups consisting of federal, state, and local officials supports the legislation.

Business project survey puts GR in top 5 nationally

Grand Rapids' business construction boom has garnered the city high ranking in a national magazine's survey of urban business development. The ranking helped place Michigan in the number eight spot for business projects for the second consecutive year.

Internet sites tout GR as hip, cutting edge

In the era of video blogs, text blogs, photo uploading, and general all-around opinion-posting, the Web is the communication tool of choice for many Americans. For Grand Rapids' image—written about and photographed by local folks who love the city—better PR can't be bought.

5/3's new logo means business to local signmaker

With a new logo and a new corporate look, the new signs for 5/3 Bank are part of the largest image overhaul in nearly two decades. With so much riding on the visual impact of the campaign, the bank turned to a local signmaker they've trusted for 59 years.

Redevelopment Renaissance Zones Fuel Growth in Jackson, Grand Rapids

Many Michigan manufacturers are downsizing their workforce or shutting down operations, altogether. A new Redevelopment Renaissance Zone, designed to spur economic development, may help a Grand Rapids manufacturer redevelop a blighted industrial site, expand business opportunities, and create new manufacturing jobs.

Governor's program will help college grads buy first home

Hoping to stir up the stagnant residential sales market and entice college graduates to stay in Michigan, Governor Granholm announced a first-time homebuyers program that offers financial incentives meant to stimulate the economy and keep Michigan's knowledge workers at home.

Amtrak popularity surges

High gas prices and air fares have helped make Amtrak one of the most popular modes of transportation in the state. Routes to Chicago from Pontiac, Port Huron, and Grand Rapids continue to show ridership is on the rise.

53 Midwest buildings receive Energy Star Status

Eleven schools in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Comstock Park and Belding have been awarded the EPA's Energy Star Status for energy saving strategies and practices. These buildings join 41 others across the Midwest in reducing energy consumption by nearly one-third.

Mass transit takes a new route

Grand Rapids' Interurban Transit Partnership and a task force of citizen leaders has proposed several options to expand public transit. All of them come with a hefty price tag, the potential to considerably improve urban mobility and the economy, and a lot of unknowns.

Homes for all in GR and beyond

A three-part mission to provide affordable housing, help special needs residents, and revitalize neighborhoods spurs this Grand Rapids non-profit developer to renovate buildings in the city and beyond.

Amtrak logs 62 percent increase in ridership in past decade

Modern trains make travel and commuting between urban centers easy, and riders on the Amtrak line between Grand Rapids and Chicago are taking advantage of the convenience.

West Michigan economy is best in state

Even with manufacturing losses and little gain in service related industries, West Michigan’s economy fares better on several fronts than the rest of the state and the nation.

Mayors endorse 15% renewable energy for municipalities by 2015

The Urban Core Mayors group said it's in the long term interests of Michigan municipalities to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. By adopting an aggressive plan for that transition, the Mayors established a standard individual cities can use to guide their efforts to implement energy conservation measures and buy renewable energy for use in municipal operations.

US Mayors unite and go ‘green’

375 mayors from across the US gathered to discuss and learn about environmental issues and the positive effects of building ‘green’ with recycled materials and energy efficient systems. Grand Rapids ranked among the cities high on the list for producing eco-friendly products.

New AIA map highlights 52 West Michigan buildings

Outstanding architecture is an important facet of the artistic heritage of West Michigan, from traditional whitewashed wooden buildings to modern glass and steel structures. The American Institute of Architects has created a new map highlighting over four dozen architectural wonders on the state’s west coast.

Sports commission board named for Kent County

Eleven of the proposed forty members were named to the Kent County Sports Commission from a pool of over 100 interested volunteers. Additionally, financial support of $270K for the first year has been pledged to the organization.

City reacts to Proposal 2, establishes Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

Since the passing of Proposal 2, the city can no longer award contract bids that favor minorities and women. In an attempt to comply with the new law, commissioners adopted a new policy to ensure “disadvantaged” businesses receive a fair chance to receive city contracts over $10,000.

Companies hope to entice future work force to stay in Michigan

High-tech manufacturing requires skilled R&D employees to keep innovation alive and companies moving forward in the competitive marketplace. Several companies are offering scholarships with the hope that the future workforce will stick around.

GR black professionals unite

Creating a place where black professionals can come together to develop professionally, socially, and personally in a primarily white community is the goal of a newly-formed Grand Rapids network. Beyond that, developing black culture in the region and using it to spur economic growth is one goal to building and strengthening a diverse Grand Rapids workforce.

HBA names new president

Residential new construction sales is down over 40% and local builders are taking the brunt of the impact. New leadership in the local HBA is looking to change consumer confidence and encourage them to step into ownership of new homes across the region.

DTE Energy proposes renewable energy program

The state’s largest energy supplier announced a plan that enables urban customers to subscribe to receive energy from renewable resources.

Lobbyist hired to advocate for GR in Washington

Despite strong opposition from some city commissioners, the city hired a D.C. lobbyist firm to advocate for federal dollars for Grand Rapids. $69,000 has been earmarked to pay for the service, but will it bring favorable results?

Franchise merger creates state’s largest ReMax company

With the state’s housing market down 40 percent, two of the area’s largest realty franchises merged to cut costs, eliminate duplication, and serve more clients. In the process, they’ve created one of the largest realty offices in Michigan.

Meijer announces prescription drug give away

Meijer officials announced that they will give away the top seven prescription medications used for fighting bacterial infections. The decision comes in response to Wal-Mart’s announcement of a $4 prescription plan rolled out in Michigan stores last month.

City schools attracting more suburban students

The county’s school choice plan is making Grand Rapids Public Schools a destination for some suburban students. Though suburb districts still outpaced the city in attracting students under the school choice rules, the city did attract 84 new suburban students. School officials credit new programs and school investment.

Metro Council conference highlights partnerships

The Kalamazoo Promise, regional transportation planning, governmental collaboration, and the economic importance of preserving greenspace are among the topics highlighted at the annual Growing Communities conference.

Grand Rapids Approves $15 Million Road, Sewer Investment

Grand Rapids city commissioners recently approved spending $15 million on four separate construction projects. The work involves modernizing sewer lines, resurfacing major roadways, and other repairs.

Women’s Center Breaks Ground on Health Hill

The Women’s Healthcare Center of West Michigan recently broke ground Health Hill. The new center, which is part of the Midtowne Village development project, specializes is expected to open in fall 2007.

Education, innovation key to West Michigan’s economic success

Speaking to an audience at Grand Valley State University, Right Place President Birgit Klohs said education, innovation, and technology is key to West Michigan’s 21st Century prosperity.

Major airline will connect GR Ford to Denver, world’s 11th busiest terminal

On September 6, 2006 United Airlines will launch service from Grand Rapids to Denver. The route is expected to be a major pathway connecting Grand Rapids to the western United States.

Major wireless carrier boosting investment in GR

Cingular Wireless announced a $100 million plan to improve its network across Michigan, including a substantial investment in metro Grand Rapids. The company has already invested over $60 million in Michigan since it acquired AT&T Wireless more than a year ago.

Konica Minolta plans $13 million GR expansion

Governor Granholm tour of Japan landed 150 new jobs and nearly $34 million in investments for Michigan. Grand Rapids should see 80 news jobs and some $13 million in foreign investment.

Meijer, GM partner to promote alternative fuel

Two Michigan based companies – Meijer and General Motors – have chosen Grand Rapids as one of several target markets for corn- and soy-based fuel. The fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol, aims to help reduce fossil fuel dependency, eliminate harmful auto emissions, and open new markets for the agricultural industry.

Transit agency brings kids to books

The Ride to Read program, established in 1992, connects GRPS students with books and the library.

GR Web firm connects films, fans

A recent survey from Spout.com, a new Grand Rapids-based internet movie retailer and film forum, reveals film enthusiasts are dissatisfied with Hollywood’s product and prefer to watch movies at home with friends.

Red Thread project to connect GR residents

A unique collaboration between Artworks and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art will literally get Grand Rapids all tied up. The unique interactive art production involves a series of events designed to celebrate human relations.

Tourism likely to thrive despite gas prices

Despite rising gas prices, West Michigan leaders expect a productive tourism season. And Grand Rapids looks to be a prime destination with a variety of exhibitions and entertainment events scheduled.

Bliss brings energy, diversity, and ideas to City Commission

Rosalynn Bliss took office this year as the youngest female elected in Grand Rapid’s history. Now she is bringing youthful energy and new ideas to the Second Ward commission post.

GR property values continue to rise

Grand Rapids property values rose by an average 5.6% over the past year, according to State Equalized Values. Residential property jumped significantly, increasing 6.3 percent.
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