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Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

 
 
Managing editor, covers energy, policy and economic development.

Twitter: @ABalaskovitz
Email: [email protected]

A financing tool that helps businesses fund clean energy and energy efficiency projects would be expanded to include additional properties and water quality efforts under legislation announced last week.

JACKSON — Investor-owned utility Consumers Energy has launched a new electric vehicle program that provides rebates and consultation to businesses looking to transition to electrified fleets.

For nearly 13 years, Jeremy DeRoo has played an integral role in seeking equity within disadvantaged Grand Rapids neighborhoods, particularly when it comes to housing and development opportunities.

Michigan lawmakers have joined nearly two dozen other states looking to stop local climate change efforts that involve electrifying various building and transportation components to reduce carbon emissions.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced “slimmed down” COVID-19 emergency safety rules that begin to ease workplace restrictions and guidelines for employers.

Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced a transition in leadership last week that will bring economic development expertise from the bayous of Louisiana to the peninsulas of Michigan.

June 1 marks the start of a new partnership between MiBiz and St. Paul, Minn.-based nonprofit Energy News Network. For myself, though, it’s more of a reunion.

GRAND RAPIDS — A trio of nonprofits are partnering to develop a roughly $5 million facility this fall to help meet ongoing needs for early childhood education in a historically disadvantaged part of the city.

Dr. Joe Stowell presided over his last commencement at Cornerstone University on May 8 after more than a decade overseeing substantial campus growth and investment. In his 13-year tenure, Cornerstone invested millions of dollars in new campus facilities and expanded program offerings, including the new $3.5 million Mary De Witt Center of Nursing in April and a planned bachelor of science in nursing.

Michigan business leaders expect a strong third and fourth quarter this year as vaccinations and federal stimulus funds are deployed, while most companies expect a gradual return to in-person work, according to a survey by a statewide business roundtable.

Business advocacy groups from around the Great Lakes argued this week that shutting down Line 5 would lead to a crisis in regional oil and gas markets, although pipeline critics say that forecast is overblown.

While Michigan is making progress to vaccinate the vast majority of residents against COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration wants to put in place long-term workplace safeguards in case the virus still maintains a presence here.

Michigan lawmakers are running out of time to pass legislation expanding civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community before a planned ballot measure with wide business support is potentially approved for the November 2022 election.

Soon after the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing stay-at-home order hit Michigan last spring, Ann Arbor tech entrepreneur Joe Malcoun formed a philanthropic venture to help restaurants and frontline workers.

KALAMAZOO — The Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition has taken ownership of the 168-year-old First Baptist Church downtown and seeks to raise millions of dollars for renovations and expanded programming.

Michigan’s two major investor-owned utilities want to negotiate with state legislators and advocates on a proposed bill that would expand access to the companies’ rooftop solar programs.

In her 23 years at Grand Rapids-based tech firm Open Systems Technology Inc., Meredith Bronk has seen the company grow from seven employees to more than 300.

President Biden’s recently proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan comes as state officials and local planning experts make gains in plotting investment needs across Michigan.

GRAND RAPIDS — After an economically grim 2020, Grand Rapids event and entertainment officials say they’re optimistic about pent-up demand, COVID-19 vaccines and a new standard of hybrid in-person and virtual programs.

Michigan’s mandates for renewable power and energy efficiency programs — first set in 2008 and slightly increased in 2016 — are scheduled to level off this year, although it may make little difference as the clean energy transition rolls on under market forces.

Sunday, 28 March 2021 17:45

5 energy projects to watch

The transition away from large coal plants is reducing power-sector emissions while also changing the state’s physical landscape. Hulking, centralized power plants are leaving vacant footprints for redevelopment, including in Grand Haven with the recent demolition of the J.B. Sims Generating Station. Meanwhile, more distributed wind and solar projects are also raising key land-use questions and, at times, vocal opposition. Here’s a list of five large-scale generation projects planned around West Michigan. 

The ability to store intermittent renewable energy from wind and solar and capturing methane emissions from common waste streams to displace natural gas usage are two technologies poised to play a bigger role in a lower carbon future.

After production ground to a halt for Michigan oil and gas producers early in the COVID-19 pandemic, wells resumed activity later in the year for an improved short-term outlook.

Deborah Prato is less than a month into her new job as CEO of The Rapid, the Grand Rapids metro area’s public transit system. It’s certainly a change of pace from the expansive systems where she previously held executive positions at New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and NJ Transit — some of the largest public transportation systems in the country. In an interview with MiBiz, Prato said while the scale is different, the mission to provide safe and reliable transit options that can also help fuel economic growth remains the same.

FRUITPORT TWP. — The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians has received the necessary federal approvals for its planned Muskegon County casino and is now calling on the Whitmer administration to approve a new gaming compact before starting construction.

In Michigan’s 24 cities with local income taxes, work from home restrictions this past year that are still largely in place for office workers have caused multi-million-dollar budget gaps.

GRAND RAPIDS — Brothers Chris and Andy Schaefer managed through cost overruns and construction delays during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently opened their new Pux Cider Taphouse in the city’s Midtown neighborhood.

The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act is a big and bold injection into the U.S. economy that critics — such as all GOP members in the House and Senate who voted against it — have called unnecessarily expensive. However, supporters say the broad support for state and local governments and targeted relief to individuals and families will provide both immediate and long-term benefits. Susan Houseman, vice president and director of research at the Kalamazoo-based W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said while the latest stimulus reflects Democratic spending priorities, it will also help to ensure a swift post-pandemic economic recovery. Houseman spoke with MiBiz a day after Congress approved the legislation and before it was signed by President Biden.

State officials are releasing nearly $10 million for more than 100 municipalities across the state that have allowed recreational marijuana dispensaries and microbusinesses.

The Whitmer administration on Tuesday announced a series of loosened COVID-19 restrictions statewide, including allowing restaurants and bars to double their indoor capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent and allowing visitations at long-term care facilities.