Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

Managing editor, covers energy, policy and economic development.

Twitter: @ABalaskovitz
Email: [email protected]

Thursday, 12 November 2020 17:06

‘This virus is out of control,’ state’s top doctor says amid pandemic second wave

LANSING — With hospital bed capacity and staffing increasingly stretched thin, exponential growth in positive cases statewide and limited contact tracing ability, the Whitmer administration is urging Michigan residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Sunday, 08 November 2020 13:10

Nonprofits partner to support individuals incarcerated for cannabis

national organization and a Michigan-based nonprofit are partnering to raise $30,000 in support of people currently or formerly incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes, hoping to bring an element of justice for those jailed for offenses that would now be legal in Michigan.

Sunday, 08 November 2020 12:06

New targeted program aims to address homelessness in downtown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS — A nonprofit housing advocacy organization has launched a new program aimed at reducing the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, targeting a high-traffic area in downtown Grand Rapids. 

Friday, 30 October 2020 11:05

Grand Rapids tiki bar owned by HopCat founder files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

GRAND RAPIDS — The operators of Max’s South Seas Hideaway — a downtown Grand Rapids tiki bar owned by former BarFly Ventures LLC President Mark Sellers III — have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Thursday, 29 October 2020 16:20

State clamps down on gathering sizes, restaurants as COVID cases surge

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended emergency orders that reinstates restrictions on gathering sizes and requires bars and restaurants to collect contact information from customers to aid in contract tracing.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020 15:09

BarFly assets sold to previous investors for $17.5M in bankruptcy auction

GRAND RAPIDS — BarFly Ventures LLC — the parent company of HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. — has sold its assets as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Sunday, 25 October 2020 18:51

Customers, installers on edge as key solar energy program nears cap

key program that has incentivized small-scale solar projects in recent years is nearing its cap in two utility service territories.

Sunday, 25 October 2020 18:00

New Chapter 11 laws offer small businesses a timely, cost-effective lifeline

For more than 45 years, Purple East has been a stalwart alternative lifestyle retailer in Grand Rapids, gaining a reputation for selling an assortment of clothing, glass pipes and smoking accessories.

Sunday, 25 October 2020 15:54

GR nonprofit lands $1M in state funding for planned early childhood, senior center

GRAND RAPIDS — United Methodist Community House will receive $1 million in state funding for an early childhood education and senior activity center planned on the city’s disadvantaged southeast side.

Sunday, 25 October 2020 13:52

Service organizations look to spread awareness of new expungement laws

Michigan nonprofits operating in the workforce development and housing sectors see a need to raise awareness among clients following new statewide criminal justice reforms.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 14:51

Michigan COVID cases spike as biz leaders seek cooperation among state officials

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state’s top public health official expressed concern Wednesday about the rising trend of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the Michigan Supreme Court struck down dozens of executive orders earlier this month.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020 14:30

BASF to close Muskegon-area facility by 2022

MUSKEGON TWP. — Multinational chemical producer BASF announced this week that it’s closing its herbicide production facility in Muskegon Township by 2022.

Sunday, 11 October 2020 15:54

State lawmakers, nonprofits renew push to restore charitable giving tax credits

State lawmakers advanced a pair of bills last month that nonprofit organizations across Michigan say would help restore charitable contributions to community foundations, homeless shelters and food banks.

Sunday, 11 October 2020 15:32

Q&A: Liesl Clark Director, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

On Sept. 23, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a target for Michigan to be carbon neutral by 2050. While that’s certainly a lofty goal, questions remain over what hitting the target will actually mean in practice. Over the next year, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will submit a MI Healthy Climate Plan to Whitmer that essentially acts as a roadmap. It will begin to detail ways the state and private sector — including utilities and industrial and commercial entities — can start chipping away at the carbon reduction goal while also outlining strategies for offsetting carbon emissions. Whitmer’s announcement made Michigan the fifth state with a long-term carbon neutral target, and the first in the Midwest. EGLE Director Liesl Clark recently spoke with MiBiz to discuss the climate goal and the pandemic’s effect on the clean energy sector.

Monday, 05 October 2020 16:50

Businesses urged to maintain safety guidelines to avoid liability after court ruling

County health departments and business groups are still evaluating the potentially far-reaching legal effects of a Michigan Supreme Court opinion Friday, but a continued focus on stemming the public health crisis and keeping workplaces safe remains.

Monday, 05 October 2020 12:59

Whitmer seeks clarification on court ruling timing to protect unemployment benefits

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to clarify when a major ruling from Friday afternoon takes effect, saying unemployment benefits for more than 800,000 Michigan residents are in jeopardy.

Friday, 02 October 2020 12:30

Downtown GR amphitheater gets closer look as Grand Action takes over

GRAND RAPIDS — A downtown Grand Rapids amphitheater appears to be the most plausible of the major downtown development projects now being pursued by Grand Action.

Friday, 02 October 2020 08:00

Amazon proposes sorting and delivery facility in Walker

WALKER — Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. is proposing a 113,000-square-foot package sorting and delivery facility in Walker, just north of I-96. 

Thursday, 01 October 2020 15:30

Convention center expansion, amphitheater, soccer stadium are Grand Action’s new priorities

GRAND RAPIDS — The business group that pushed several major developments over the past 25 years is now focused on a downtown convention center expansion, an amphitheater and a professional soccer stadium.

Wednesday, 30 September 2020 13:55

E-scooters have arrived in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS — After two years of planning, the city of Grand Rapids has launched an e-scooter sharing program. 

Sunday, 27 September 2020 18:50

GR airport traffic rebounds, though business travel and stimulus concerns loom

GRAND RAPIDS — Passenger travel has steadily rebounded since the depths of the pandemic slowdown, but Grand Rapids airport officials are concerned about the uncertainty over future business travel as well as a looming CARES Act deadline that could cause tens of thousands of layoffs at airlines.

Sunday, 27 September 2020 18:44

‘Culture eats policy for lunch:’ Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion means changing how businesses operate

It’s not enough to announce diversity, equity and inclusion hiring commitments, it takes leadership teams that reflect more cultures.

Sunday, 27 September 2020 10:54

Q&A: Keli Christopher Founder, STEM Greenhouse

Keli Christopher founded the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit STEM Greenhouse six years ago to help K-12 students — in particular, children of color — along an academic path more comfortable than she experienced. As the first Black person to receive a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois, Christopher endured a challenging and isolated path through higher education. Her mission now is to increase students’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the greater Grand Rapids area, where she still sees a diversity gap in STEM education. Earlier this month, Christopher was a featured speaker at the Southeast Grand Rapids Community and Economic Development Conference hosted by the Grand Rapids African-American Community Task Force. In an interview with MiBiz, Christopher discussed inequities in the nonprofit sector as well as the ongoing barriers to engaging more non-white students in STEM education.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 12:23

Michigan music venues seek $10 million COVID relief fund from state

Dozens of Michigan independent music venue owners are calling on state officials to create a $10 million pandemic relief fund to help them avoid closing permanently.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 11:44

DTE, Consumers join major utilities in electric vehicle charging pledge

Michigan’s two major investor-owned utilities are joining other large Midwest power companies in pledging to build out an interstate charging network to support more widespread electric vehicle adoption.

Monday, 21 September 2020 15:50

Agri-Med opens first Ottawa Co. recreational cannabis dispensary, eyes future expansion

CROCKERY TOWNSHIP — Agri-Med LLC has added a third recreational cannabis dispensary to its West Michigan portfolio as its Exit 9 Provisionary in Crockery Township is now authorized for both medical and adult-use sales.

Friday, 18 September 2020 15:22

Kent County immigration welcome plan a ‘call to action,’ officials say

GRAND RAPIDS — Kent County municipal officials and business advocacy groups have released an area “welcome plan” meant to address concerns among the immigrant community, including restoring trust with law enforcement agencies and promoting equity in education and business opportunities.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020 11:20

Grand Rapids airport eyes direct international flights with latest expansion

GRAND RAPIDS — Gerald R. Ford International Airport officials have announced a new expansion project meant to eventually support nonstop international commercial flights.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 11:16

Hospitality group seeks state policy support ahead of fall, winter uncertainty

The trade group for Michigan’s hospitality industry has launched a new campaign seeking state support to further reopen ahead of what’s expected to be a challenging fall and winter after the tourism season ends.

Sunday, 13 September 2020 17:46

SIX MONTHS IN: Small businesses reflect on the ups, downs, optimism and bleakness of the COVID-19 pandemic

In early May, MiBiz began featuring small businesses across Western and Southwestern Michigan in a section called “Coping with COVID-19.” The goal was to tell the stories of small businesses adjusting to the global pandemic and capture their outlook at this historic point in time.

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