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Heartside : West Michigan In The News

353 Heartside Articles | Page: | Show All

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.

According to excerpts from the story:

Greater Grand Rapids has just gotten a $29 million dollar pledge from the federal government to beef up it’s public transit system. The goal is not just to buy the most environmentally friendly buses but to liven up downtown. And judging from what the city has done so far, public transit is a good economic development tool.

The Bus Rapid Transit system will include 10 hybrid electric buses on a 10 mile route downtown. 19 new bus stations will have message boards showing the next bus will arrive in 10 minutes or less. It’s supposed to feel permanent and powerful, like a train.

Read the complete story here.

 


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. The outstanding question: how and where to get the money?

According to excerpts from the story:

Grand Rapids Public Schools would drop two of its four traditional high schools and replace them with small, specialized programs to address declining enrollment and new classroom trends under a $216 million plan being considered by city educators.

Creston and Central high schools would be recast as homes for themed programs. Union and Ottawa Hills would continue as comprehensive schools, but with beefed-up buildings and sports teams that will merge with Creston and Central.

A $200 million plan would cost the owner of a $150,000 home an additional $135 a year in taxes.

Read the complete story here.


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.

According to excerpts from the story:

Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Tuesday painted a vision of a state where alternative energy companies employ tens of thousands of workers, low-income students attend new high schools that prepare them for college and residents laid off from manufacturing jobs find bright new futures in health care.

The Democratic governor said those are the ways Michigan will grow out of its protracted economic crisis, which has saddled it with the nation's highest unemployment rate and caused people to leave the state for better opportunities elsewhere.

Read the complete story here.


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.

According to excerpts from the story:

Tax credits for developments and designating neighborhoods as historic were on the agenda at Tuesday's City Commission meeting.

The glut of condominiums was a topic at the City Commission meeting. Tax credits for a combination condo-apartment complex for an area south of downtown was debated, and some commissioners expressed concerns over the saturations of condos in the area.

But city economic officials say market studies of the area, which include expanding St. Mary's Hospital, will support the project.

Read the complete story here.


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. 

According to excerpts from the story:

About one hundred Muskegon area residents told a trio of state lawmakers Thursday night that they support strong measures this year to protect Lake Michigan shoreline communities against the threat of large-scale water withdrawals that could impact local rivers and the area's tourist economy.

The comments came at a Town Hall meeting sponsored by the Great Lakes, Great Michigan coalition as Lansing lawmakers debate competing bills that will likely shape the future of Michigan's water use.

Read the complete story here.


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.

According to excerpts from the story:

The West Michigan Strategic Alliance has appointed Ken Freestone as interim Green Infrastructure Project Manager, replacing Katie Kahl, who stepped down to complete a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management at Michigan State University.

Freestone has worked with the WMSA in the past, contributing to the "Common Framework" publication and serving on the Green Infrastructure Task Force.

Read the complete story here.


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. A secondary goal is to shield ratepayers from the costs of research, development, and construction.

According to excerpts from the story:

Trying to stay on par with the Michigan House, the Senate on Thursday discharged to the floor five bills to help boost the state's development and use of alternative energy.

Sen. Patricia Birkholz (R-Saugatuck) said both on the Senate floor and in a press conference on Senate GOP priorities (see related story) that the legislation will actually help build a market for alterative energy without forcing ratepayers to pay for the development of alternative sources.

Read the complete story here.

 


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.

According to excerpts from the story:

Design West Michigan is fine tuning and will soon launch some key initiatives intended to make design more of a driving force in the West Michigan economy.

DWM spokesman John Berry said the group will meet in late January to develop plans for a “Design Thinking Institute” and “Design Swat Teams” to help West Michigan businesses or organizations in critical situations where design can play a pivotal role.

DWM descended from the design council organized about a year ago by the Zeeland economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage as one of the 12 Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development grant projects.

Read the complete story here.


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. Organizers didn't rest until they had the major players at the table.

According to excerpts from the story:

There is millions of dollars worth of construction going on in downtown Grand Rapids. But few minority and women construction workers are involved in those projects, according to some community leaders.

A new memorandum of understanding aims to change that by increasing the availability of minorities and women in construction through recruitment, skills training and placement.

The memo, developed by an informal group calling itself the Kent County Black Elected Officials, attempts to establish the process of workforce development and placement of construction workers in West Michigan, particularly Kent County. The agreement is the result of several meetings held with local minority contractors, West Michigan Minority Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors-Western Michigan Chapter, building trade unions and other representatives.

Read the complete story here.


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. One East Coast company recently put up millions to acquire one of the region's leading manufacturers.

According to excerpts from the story:

UFP Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer of packaging and specialty component products, today announced the acquisition of Stephenson & Lawyer, Inc., located in Grand Rapids, MI. S&L is a full service designer, converter, and distributor of foam plastic products, specializing in technical polyurethane foams. S&L sales in 2007 were approximately $13 million.

Read the complete story here.

 


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. And the transformation has only just begun.

According to excerpts from the story:

Once a cornfield, the 170-acre Metro Health Village development at M-6 and Byron Center Avenue SW today comprises a hospital, medical offices, several health care businesses, a park and several retail outlets. According to online minutes, Wyoming planning commissioners in 2007 approved site plans for a cancer treatment center, a dentist's office, a Macatawa Bank branch, an ITT Educational Services building, and a 113-room, five-story, 66,000-square-foot Hyatt Place hotel.

In the talking stage — but not yet in the commission's approval process — are a second hotel, another medical office building and a food store, said Tim Cochran, principal planner for Wyoming.

Read the complete story here.


Grand Rapids DDA OK's long awaited development at Fulton and Division

A much-anticipated project to revitalize a prime corner of downtown Grand Rapids with a new art gallery, apartments, retail, and parking received preliminary approval. Developers still face a complicated path of tax credits and other financial promises to complete the deal.

According to excerpts from the story:

Development of a high-profile downtown corner is likely to get a few more financial boosts from the city's Downtown Development Authority.

The Gallery on Fulton at the southwestern corner of Division Avenue and Fulton Street is expected to include a new home for the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, a parking ramp, a 66-unit apartment building and retail space.

Read the complete story here.


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 company, alone, has seen its way clear to sink some $40 million into the region's economy.

According to excerpts from the story:

It's a record year in western Michigan for out-of-state investment, which likely surpassed $150 million, estimated Colin Kraay, investment adviser at Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce in Grand Rapids.

In the last days of 2007, the firm negotiated the sale of 17 industrial buildings for $35 million to $40 million to California-based Core Realty Holdings - a return buyer in the region. Core in 2005 purchased several industrial buildings in Kent County and the lakeshore.

Read the complete story here.


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. That's good news for a region working to attract knowledge workers and spur economic development.

According to excerpts from the story:

Looking for a job in information technology? Want to move to West Michigan? You could be in luck according to the latest staffing survey done by Paragon Recruiting.

The survey shows 36 percent of companies that responded plan to increase their IT staff next year.

Read the complete story here.

 


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.

According to excerpts from the story:

Ferndale-based Garden Fresh Gourmet has acquired Grand Rapids-based El Matador Tortilla Chip Co.

The deal was completed on Dec. 5 for an undisclosed price.

Read the complete story here.

353 Heartside Articles | Page: | Show All
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