Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez

Senior writer, covers health care, finance and life sciences. Twitter: @masanche

Everybody knows the U.S. economic expansion that’s approaching a decade in duration will eventually come to an end. When that dip will actually occur remains the unknown, as assorted economic outlooks continually predict slower growth ahead, but stop short of forecasting an outright recession.

GRAND RAPIDS — Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids and five Spectrum Health-owned hospitals earned top grades in a semi-annual report on patient safety. Spectrum Health’s Big Rapids, Ludington, Pennock Hospital in Hastings, United Hospital in Greenville and Zeeland Community Hospital joined Saint Mary’s in earning an “A” grade in the spring report card issued by The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based advocate for health care quality and patient safety.

GRAND RAPIDS — Two years ago, the venture capital arm that health system Spectrum Health formed to back innovative health care startups had to go looking for deals because nobody in the field knew it existed. Today, Spectrum Health Ventures LLC faces a much different situation. Investment prospects now often come from referrals by other large health systems across the U.S. that also operate venture capital arms and want co-investors for deals.

GRAND RAPIDS — The $2.05 million in funding Sportsman Tracker Inc. raised this spring will go to further develop a social media platform and mobile app for hunters. As some social media platforms begin to give lower value to hunting content, Sportsman Tracker CEO Jeff Courter saw an opportunity to further build his HuntWise app that has been downloaded by 2 million users.

KALAMAZOO — Peter Bergmann began his tenure as president at Ascension Borgess three months ago with a host of issues on his plate to manage. Among them is finalizing the proposed acquisition of 25-bed Allegan General Hospital and integrating it into the Kalamazoo-based regional health system, which includes hospitals in Kalamazoo, Dowagiac and Plainwell, as well as outpatient centers and physician offices.

GRAND RAPIDS — In selling shares in the design and construction management firm he started 23 years ago, Guy Bazzani begins to wind down a lengthy career that had a significant influence on the green building movement in West Michigan. Bazzani Building Co. is among the pioneers locally of design and building principles and practices that follow a Triple Bottom Line philosophy that blends economic, social and environmental sustainability.

GRAND RAPIDS — More than seven years, $2 million and 500 companies later, Varnum LLP signed on for a third round of providing free legal services to help new companies get off the ground. The Grand Rapids-based law firm will give away another $1 million in legal services through the MiSpringboard program that launched in 2011 under a push by then-Gov. Rick Snyder to support entrepreneurism as Michigan’s economy began recovering from the Great Recession.

EAST LANSING — With a new investment fund at Michigan State University, students can gain experience on either side of the venture capital industry. The Student Venture Capital Fund offers students with an idea for a business or an innovation “priceless” experience in seeking capital and pitching to prospective investors, said Jeff Wesley, the executive director of Red Cedar Ventures at MSU.

The economy continued “chugging along” in West Michigan during the early spring, even as economist Brian Long’s monthly survey of industrial purchasing managers again found signs of slower growth.

Davenport University plans to expand a bachelor’s program for nursing in the Grand Rapids area to meet a talent shortage.

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