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Talent

Through his efforts to guide the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding out of financial hardship, Jeff Agar has helped bring more alternative therapy options to children and adults with disabilities in West Michigan.

A coalition of law firms working to increase diversity within the legal community will seek to brand Grand Rapids as a destination for minority and female attorneys.

Sustainability isn't just some esoteric concept for Rob McCarty. It's a philosophy by which he runs his business, and he believes in it so strongly that he focuses his volunteer efforts around it as well.

They say in Hollywood that there's the movie you write, the movie you shoot and the movie that's left when all the edited clips have been swept from the cutting room floor. Similarly, there's a large local audience waiting in line to see the final version of the Compass College of Cinematic Arts saga.

Corporate clients might be singing the blues when they approach attorney Mark Smith for legal counsel, but they might not know that he can be found on the radio spinning blues tracks as a volunteer programmer on WYCE.

Max Shangle just celebrated his third decade at Kendall College of Art and Design, the last two years as dean of the college. The experienced furniture designer and design consultant said he is invigorated by the state of change at the college. He believes Kendall is poised to make a statement through its new president, the newly renovated Historic Federal Building and the three new degree programs in design collaboration, fashion studies and medical illustration. "Kendall really is ready," Shangle told MiBiz during a wide-ranging interview about design's role in business, the nature of design education and more.

BIG RAPIDS — Ferris State University joins the ranks of institutions of higher education intentionally focusing on entrepreneurship with the creation of the Entrepreneurial Institute, which launched last fall. 

The institute is the brainchild of Ferris First, a group organized by the university's Strategic Planning Commission and Resource Council.

When Erhardt Construction Co. set out to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the company's management team wanted to do something other than throw a big party. Instead, what Ben Wickstrom and the team developed was a plan to make a statement of gratitude to the community that has supported the company in its five decades of growth.

"Rather than talk about ourselves, we want to celebrate the community," Wickstrom said.

MICHIGAN — Michigan's top three research universities say they're doing their share to support innovation and to create the talent pipeline behind it.

In one recent report, the University Research Corridor says its members — consisting of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University — benchmark well against research clusters nationally in terms of enrollments, graduates with high-tech degrees, research and development expenditures, and technology transfers into the marketplace.

CALEDONIA — An aging population that will increasingly require more care led Davenport University to launch a trio of graduate programs designed to elevate the health care talent level in the Grand Rapids area.

The new master's degree in nursing and master's in occupational therapy, plus a doctorate in physical therapy, are geared for people well into their careers and will offer a mixture of courses to enhance their clinical skills and enable them to move into administration or even higher in a management role.

KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University plans to offer a new degree to complement the demands of companies looking for new skilled workers.

Starting in the fall, WMU will roll out its Master of Arts in Leadership for Organizational Learning and Performance program.

For Gazelle Sports co-founder Chris Lampen-Crowell, giving back is all about advocating for a healthier, more active community.

Lampen-Crowell co-founded the small West Michigan-based chain of running and fitness stores in 1985. From the beginning, the retailer focused on building a community of health and fitness conscious individuals.

For Lara Kitts, paying it forward is steadily becoming a full-time job.

Kitts chairs the board of the Family Hope Foundation, a growing all-volunteer organization launched in 2010. The organization works across West Michigan to unburden families that have special needs children.

After a decade of budget slashing in schools and arts groups, starting an arts-based school in Grand Rapids might not seem like a winning proposition, but it's exactly what Grand Rapids Symphony education director Claire VanBrandeghen plans to do.

If Americans know how to do one thing, it's barbeque. For many it's a family tradition, and that's exactly why the second generation, family-owned Miller Welding Supply hosts its annual "Bad to the Bone BBQ Rib Cook-off," an event which benefits Hospice of Michigan.

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