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Economic Development (434)

The West Michigan Science & Technology, at least in name, will likely disappear from the scene with a pending change in management of the Grand Rapids SmartZone.

Taking Pure Michigan viral

Written by | Sunday, 16 September 2012 18:07 |

Their primary goal was to produce a video that promotes their home state and engage thousands of people along the way.

The record number of properties going up for sale in Michigan for nonpayment of taxes has created an entire industry of entrepreneurs who hope to profit from buying real estate for dimes on the dollar.

In late September, computer hackers and the IT security professionals who cross digital swords with them will meet at DeVos Place to share the latest cyber attacks and defenses.

Startups await regs to dive into crowdfunding

Written by | Tuesday, 04 September 2012 09:18 |

Entrepreneurs will soon be able to access crowdfunding to help start their businesses, but until the regulations are written later this year, many are left wondering just what the new tools will mean.

At a recent presentation, I mentioned that liberal arts students at West Michigan colleges are graduating at a rate of three-to-one over STEM — the science, technology, engineering and math-related programs. That remark sparked some interesting public comment.

While TED events may focus on ideas worth spreading, a local offshoot of the international program wants to spotlight ideas that are ready to be implemented.

A dip in attendance of almost 10 percent is of no particular concern to West Michigan Whitecaps CEO and Managing Partner Lew Chamberlin.

A new law aimed to help port communities ensure they have federal funding to maintain their harbors appears to have fallen short of the towns' expectations.

MICHIGAN — There's a difference between spending and investing, Rick Studley insists. 

So in urging legislators to generate and spend up to $1.4 billion a year to fix state roads and highways, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce will focus on the potential return on investment and the economic benefits from the thousands of jobs it could create. 

WEST MICHIGAN — Employers bolstering the ranks of their I.T. staffs may have to boost compensation as well to fill their open positions, as the competition for talent picks up a little in the Grand Rapids area.

The latest outlook from Holland-based Paragon Recruiting found more respondents than six months ago are planning to add I.T. talent, a product of an improved economy and pent-up demand.

WEST MICHIGAN — Michigan needs to do a better job of tending its garden of existing businesses rather than focus on hunting for outside companies. 

That is the driver behind the expansion of the Pure Michigan Business Connect program, which started as a pilot in Nov. 2011 to help grow the state's second-stage companies.

GRAND RAPIDS — Finding funds for much needed services like infrastructure improvements is challenging when local governments are in a constant cost-cutting mode.

The Grand Valley Metro Council, tasked with finding funding to maintain the city's roadways and other mobility issues, has used a Pavement Management System (PaMS) to track the condition of local infrastructure, including signage, since 1995.

GRAND RAPIDS — Much to the chagrin of his wife and son, Phillip Johnson likes to spend time in airports when he is on a family vacation — an airport often tells the unvarnished truth about a community, he reasons. 

"If they have a vibrant airport, they a have a vibrant community," said Johnson, deputy executive director of the Kent County Department of Aeronautics in Grand Rapids. "If the airport is dying, the community is probably dying. There's exceptions, but that is pretty much the case."

WEST MICHIGAN — Five West Michigan companies received support for corporate expansions thanks to incentives approved May 23 under the new Michigan Business Development Program.

As one of the city's market construction projects wraps up its initial phase, another one begins to take shape.

That was the message from architect Ted Lott of Lott3Metz and Craig Nicely, principal and architect for Design Plus, at the River to Markets forum held at the Wealthy Theater in early May.

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