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West Michigan In The News

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Community-based biogas, composting model proposed for Muskegon

Grand Rapids environmental entrepreneurs propose to launch a community-based business model in Muskegon to create biogas and compost from organic waste. Forming a community nonprofit would enable the multi-million-dollar project to obtain funding through grants and government programs.

According to excerpts from the story:

With the Michigan Alternative Renewable Energy Center and its strong environmental and sus-tainability movement, the Muskegon area has the potential to become a critical player in biogas and composting. Bill Stough, president of Sustainable Research Group, believes Muskegon could be home to a consortium that diverts food and other organic waste and generates value-added products such as energy and compost for agriculture uses.

Stough presented a community-based organizational business model on biogas and composting at a recent seminar held at MAREC in Muskegon. Stough and Dan Blackledge, former owner of Mario Bio-energy LLC, formed the Metropolitan Energy and Organics LLC specifically to bring the technology to market. Stough and Blackledge have talked to people in Lansing, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, but the interest level has been the highest in Muskegon.

Read the complete story here.




Eclectic Grand Haven home décor store emphasizes relaxed coastal lifestyle

The owner of Grand Haven's newest home décor shop hopes to attract customers to the store's eclectic mix of waterfront lifestyle home accessories and furniture from around the globe.

According to excerpts from the story:

Panache Home, downtown Grand Haven's newest store, breathes the refreshing, easy-going lakeshore lifestyle. A peek through the classic exterior windows of the home decor store at 218 Washington reveals what owner Susan Westgate describes as coastal elegance. 

Walking inside, one can almost feel the lake's breeze upon your face and hear the old cottage porch door creak closed. Whimsical woven throw pillows, bright with lobsters or a vintage diver, sit beside a contemporary horsehair bench and cowhide footstool. Colorful striped cotton rugs look ready to brighten any kitchen floor. The store's Belgian table linens could dress the table. Down-filled, oversized sofas and chairs bring to mind lazy afternoons on the shore after a day of sun and surf.

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Grand Rapids, California labs will partner on first prenatal cystic fibrosis test

Processing the results of the first-ever prenatal test for cystic fibrosis will soon be the responsibility of a noted Grand Rapids molecular medicine research lab. The lab's parent company says the test will hit the market in the next few months.

According to excerpts from the story:

Sequenom Inc. plans to launch a new prenatal test for cystic fibrosis within the next few months, and the results will be processed by the company’s Center for Molecular Medicine in Grand Rapids, the CEO said Thursday. The cystic fibrosis test is the first of the California company’s three prenatal molecular diagnostic tests slated for launch following an April announcement that its widely anticipated Down syndrome test would be delayed by mishandling of test data.

“Our sales force plans to introduce this product in 18 metropolitan markets in the U.S. and it will be our first product launched by our CLIA laboratory, SCMM, into the clinical testing market,” CEO Harry Stylli told analysts in a quarterly earnings conference call.  Stylli said the cystic fibrosis screening test, entering a $300 million market, is expected to be joined by a Rhesus D test and a gender test by the first quarter of 2010.

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Intern Olympics show 150 interns Michigan has jobs, careers for them

About 150 interns from West Michigan companies competed in a special Intern Olympics where corporate leaders invited the young professionals to explore a number of available career paths in Michigan.

According to excerpts from the story:

During her three years at Davenport University, Megan Peters developed an affinity for Grand Rapids.

 "I love the area. My family's close," said Peters, a 20-year-old Monroe senior who will graduate with a bachelor's degree in marketing this month. "I really want to stay in Michigan -- if it's possible."

Peters, who is in her second internship at Amway Corp., is one of many young professionals facing a humbling realization: beginning a career in Michigan is difficult.  But for Tuesday afternoon, she set aside her anxiety to join 150 other young professionals at the second annual West Michigan Intern Olympics at Earl Brewer Park, 399 84th St. SW. The event drew interns from Ada Township-based Amway Corp., Grand Rapids-based Steelcase Inc., Walker-based Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids-based Gordon Food Service, Allegan-based Perrigo Co., and Rockford-based Wolverine World Wide Inc.

The participants flexed their muscles in a tug-of-war match and ducked flying marshmallows in a dodgeball-like competition. But aside from a day in the sun, they were shown some career opportunities do exist in West Michigan -- even in an adverse economy, said Kevin Douglas, Amway manager of college talent.

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Michigan's two largest electric utilities move forward with photovoltaic programs

Michigan's two largest electric utilities have plans to launch solar energy programs to help them achieve the new state mandated renewable energy requirements. One program proposes a premium rate for customer-generated solar power supplied to the grid.

According to excerpts from the story:

Michigan's two largest electric utilities are planning to implement photovoltaic solar installations to help them meet Michigan's new renewable energy mandates, despite the state's cloudy winter weather. The utilities are primarily pursuing large wind farms to help them meet new mandates requiring 10 percent renewable energy by 2015. But each is also planning relatively small solar programs. 

Industry experts point to other countries in saying that solar can be a viable energy source for Michigan, even if the state can't hope to compete with sunny states like California or the Southwestern U.S.  "Europeans are so far ahead of us in terms of renewables. There's a lot of photovoltaics installed in Germany, and Germany doesn't have very sunny weather, too," said Kurt Westermann, renewable energy business director for Black & Veatch Corp. in Ann Arbor.

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Muskegon restaurateur says new Alaskan cuisine eatery will ride out turbulent economy

A Muskegon restaurant owner says his new Alaska-inspired eatery will weather the current economic downturn and come out on top. Citing reduced real estate prices as an advantage, the longtime restaurateur anticipates opening more restaurants along the lakeshore.

According to excerpts from the story:

The owners of Muskegon's newest restaurant in Fruitport Township say they are not intimidated by the turbulent economy and they're ready to take guests on a trip to the Great White North. No, not the U.P. Think extreme Northern Exposure. Alaskan Broiler has been open more than two months with a menu that includes steak, burgers, chicken, barbecue ribs, pasta and, you guessed it -- Alaskan King Crab. 

Manager Lori Bates said the Alaskan-inspired menu also includes wild game, like elk and bison. The interior has a rustic decor with murals of wildlife throughout. The restaurant is leasing the space previously occupied by Famous Dave's Bar-B-Cue . Bates said the restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner, has a liquor license but its owners decided to keep the entire restaurant -- and the bar -- smoke-free.

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Spring Lake continues quest for cityhood to control tax dollars

Despite opposition from some residents, Spring Lake leaders are taking the next steps to move the village closer toward achieving city status. Proponents say city status eliminates payment of taxes to the county, saving residents money.

According to excerpts from the story:

The Village of Spring Lake's Cityhood Committee is circulating petitions to obtain the required minimum of 129 signatures, or approximately 5 percent of the village's registered voters and property owners.  Village President William Filber estimates the signatures will be obtained by the end of August.

"We are volunteers going door-to-door and have found that each visit averages about a half hour," Filber said. "We're finding that we're not just gathering signatures, but that residents are interested in questions and discussing other issues that are on their minds." 

Filber said that becoming a city is a natural growth process for a village. "Yes, it's been an emotional issue for some, who say, 'but I moved here because it's a village, I like living in a village, it's always been a village.' People have to realize that a village becoming a city is a logical stepping stone. We want to become a city so we can control our own tax dollars.

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Century old Grand Rapids Heartside landmark now 20 urban apartments

After years of poor maintenance followed by abandonment, a renovated Grand Rapids landmark now offers 20 urban apartments on the Avenue for the Arts. The developer shored up the sagging structure following green principles and expects to receive LEED certification.

According to excerpts from the story:

Brookstone Capital LLC finished its renovation of the Watson & Heald building late last month and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday. Developer Karl Chew invested about $6 million into the 124-year-old structure and renamed it 101 South Division Lofts. The building now has 20 moderate-income, loft-style apartments on the upper levels and 6,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.

Back in 2002, the future of the building was a large question mark. That was the year the city of Grand Rapids took possession of the vacant building after its owner failed to reimburse the city $165,000 for the emergency repairs made to the sagging roof. The city then listed the building for a year to no avail, and even tried to auction it off at a series of auctions held in the lobby of the former Hall of Justice at Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue.

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Chicago journalist says ArtPrize is making waves in the art world

The upcoming ArtPrize competition has not only put Grand Rapids on the art world's map, it's rocked that world because of the event's predicted global and economic scope.

According to excerpts from the story:

Grand Rapids, MI, home to the world-class Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, is making waves in the art world with ArtPrize, arguably the world’s largest art award competition. Aimed at bringing the works of international and national artists to Grand Rapids this fall, the competition will award $449,000 to 10 entrants. The winner receives $250,000 followed by $100,000 to second place and $50,000 to third.

Who decides? The viewers do. In this age of I-Phones and Blackberries, voting will be through text messaging and at a website.

“I wanted to do something that is different and totally open, something that embraces all different types of expressions and venues,” Rick DeVos said. “Voting is a means to an end. That end is to get people out in the street, to come here and see places they’ve not seen before. I want people to react to it."

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Holland packaging company logs 500 percent revenue growth, adds 50 jobs

A Holland packaging manufacturer recently exceeded company leaders' expectations when they launched the business two years ago with a prediction of creating 75 jobs. Now the plant will sport $1.5 million in new equipment, possibly paving the way for more growth and more jobs.

According to excerpts from the story:

For an idea of the kind of growth the Holland packaging company, Coastal Container, is experiencing, President and CEO Brent Patterson said, look to the month of July.

It made more sales in that one month than it did in the entire first quarter of 2009.

And for an even better idea, since summer 2008, sales have increased 500 percent, its workforce has expanded from 35 to 85 and it has invested an additional $1.5 million in new equipment, Patterson added.

After starting with 13 employees in 2007, Coastal expects to employ 150 by the end of 2010, with an ultimate goal of 250 in three to five years, he said.

“It’s market share. We’ve got a very lean facility, our flow is very straight lined, we have a green element,” Patterson said. “We have a better mousetrap. There’s a ton of business around here, even though things are depressed the way they are.”

Read the complete story here.



Holland's S2 Yachts to save jobs with new buoy manufacturing venture

A Holland yacht maker plans to keep its workers employed with the production of new high-tech buoys incorporating technology developed by the University of Michigan. The venture moves the company into uncharted waters as a competitor for government marine contracts.

According to excerpts from the story:
S2 Yachts Inc. is testing the waters of the buoy business, and likely will be saving jobs in the process. S2 Yachts agreed this week to purchase licensing from the University of Michigan involving technology to manufacture buoys. In the next three years, S2 Yachts is expected to build 134 buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using the U-M technology.

Some buoys would be placed in Lake Michigan bays near Traverse City to measure pollution transport as part of U-M's Upper Great Lakes Observing System (U-GLOS). S2 Yachts' new venture could help the company's estimated 400 West Michigan employees keep jobs. It takes 15 to 20 people to manufacture one buoy in a couple weeks, S2 Yachts director of product development Rick Eggerding said.

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Longtime Grand Rapids Ford dealer puts faith in manufacturer, buys Grand Haven dealership

Despite recent closings of auto dealerships across the nation, a longtime Grand Rapids Ford dealer purchased a recognized Grand Haven dealership and plans to expand.  

According to excerpts from the story:

Joe Betten said this was the smoothest sale he's ever gone through.

His purchase of the Redeker Ford dealership Friday went so smooth that three of the first customers were the former owners. Arnie Redeker and his sons, Bill and Jack, each bought one or two new Fords on their way out. They purchased the cars "because we don't have demos anymore and we don't like to walk," Bill Redeker said. "We're regular customers now, but I think it shows our faith in the new owner and in Ford."

Crews already remodeled part of the 1401 S. Beacon Blvd. dealership over the weekend and put up the new Preferred Ford sign today. "It's a totally different building already, and they'll be back already next weekend," Betten told the Tribune this morning.

Read the complete story here.



Michigan colleges, universities seek to develop collaborative higher-ed options

Collaborations between higher education institutions need to move forward if Michigan's young talent is to develop the skills needed to land jobs of the future. Some colleges and universities have paved the way by partnering with other institutions to advance health sciences and pharmaceutical education.  

According to excerpts from the story:

Developing the jobs of the future and keeping talent in the state are two big goals for Michigan right now, and higher education plays a big part in both. As schools continue to face economic and other challenges, many are finding that working together is the better way to go.

"There's a strong consensus amongst all the presidents and chancellors of the 15 public (universities in Michigan) that we need to bolster some of the relationships and partnerships that we have with a number of constituents," said Grand Valley State University President Thomas Haas, also chair of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.

One of those constituents is community colleges, he said. Although transfer agreements between institutions have existed for many years, they've often been somewhat segmented programs, said Ed Haring, president of Kellogg Community College. Institutions work fairly independently from each other, and that's been the norm for the past 20 years, he said.

 "More recently, I think, there has been an interest both on the part of community colleges and of public and private universities to work more collaboratively," Haring said.

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New downtown business makes Grand Rapids sights accessible in a fun, new way

For anyone wanting to see Grand Rapids sights and have an adventure getting there, a new transportation option might be just the ticket.

According to excerpts from the story:

It might not have the grandeur of Chicago, or the weather of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but Grand Rapids can support a Segway tour business, one local businessman says. Michael Kaback, owner of Segway Tours of Grand Rapids, began his rental operation in May out of an office in the Amway Grand parking garage, at Pearl Street NW and Campau Avenue.

Read the complete story here.



WGVU TV offers expanded prime time programming on two new channels

International television programs, music performances and indie documentaries became available on local channels this week as part of a prime time programming expansion by WGVU TV.

According to excerpts from the story:

Starting Tuesday, August 4 at 10 a.m., WGVU TV will expand its program offerings with two new channels.  The main channel (35.1 or 52.1) will remain the regular schedule, broadcasting in HD. On 35.2 and 52.2, the existing lifestyle programming that constitutes the Create channel will air from 6 a.m.– 6 p.m. In the evenings, WGVU BLOCK PARTY takes over, offering genre-specific programs from 6 p.m. – 6 a.m. 

The third channel, 35.3 and 52.3, will become MhZ WORLDVIEW, featuring news, film, sports and more from around the globe, including programs from France, India, China, Afghanistan, and Russia.

Read the complete story here.



2229 Articles | Page: | Show All
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