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Peggy Murphy is a theater lover. With a daughter active in theater at DePaul University, going to the theater to watch her daughter or just to enjoy another show has been a longstanding affair for Murphy. So when a colleague approached her about serving on the board of the Civic Theater in Grand Rapids, she could scarcely think of a reason not to.

Where are the workers?

Written by | Monday, 02 April 2012 12:23 |

Staying in business over the past few years has been a significant accomplishment for area companies. Now, West Michigan employers are screaming for new talent.

Ruth Smith’s company is at a crossroads. Because she is in line for a major contract to put her Selestial Soap in D&W stores, the West Michigan entrepreneur might have to put together a round of financing. For the first time, Selestial LLC might not be debt-free.

Q&A: Ric Roane

Written by | Tuesday, 13 March 2012 11:17 |

Ric Roane joined Warner Norcross & Judd LLP in 2008 as an attorney in its family law practice group, which he now chairs, and as the white-shoe law firm’s first openly gay partner. Roane, 53, who was just profiled in the firm’s 2011 Diversity and Inclusion report, said he feels safe being out at the firm. He talks with MiBiz about being a successful openly gay professional in West Michigan.

Blast! provides women resources to scale up small biz

Written by | Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:14 |

Women entrepreneurs often encounter a glass ceiling of sorts even within their own businesses, but a nonprofit business accelerator is hoping a yearlong training program will help break that barrier. New York nonprofit Count Me In and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women kicked off the Blast! Grand Rapids program last fall with a series of “pitch parties” — weekly events where women practiced pitching live before competing for a place in the accelerator early in October.

Scott Brew, Adtegrity

Written by | Monday, 05 March 2012 14:05 |

Although Adtegrity has been in the Grand Rapids area since 1999, the national Internet advertising and marketing company has flown somewhat under the radar. Adtegrity President and CEO Scott Brew said his company handles Internet and display advertising for clients, many of whom are outside West Michigan. The company moved last year to new digs at 38 Commerce in downtown Grand Rapids.

When businesses prepare for a court appearance, company executives often expect their attorneys will be able to look at the law and predict how a judge will rule. The answer is seldom easy, attorneys say, thanks in part to a legal system based on generalist judges who preside over cases that run the gamut from felonies to civil lawsuits to business litigation.

The Great Recession was a boon for some West Michigan businesspeople. Consider David Bevins, for example.

The annual “Michigan Celebrates Small Business” awards dinner is set for May 3 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Securing more underwriters enabled organizers to “substantially” lower ticket prices to $95, or $900 for a table of 10, in hopes of driving attendance higher, said Jennifer Deamud, associate state director of the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center at Grand Valley State University.

Chinese professionals present their business cards with reverence, holding the card with both hands so it can be read by the person receiving it. But Americans oblivious to Chinese business customs might shove the card in a back pocket and continue talking, a gaffe sure to sour any business meeting.

Sweethearting not so good for business

Written by | Monday, 27 February 2012 20:47 |

Some of your employees are perhaps going more than a little overboard to please customers.

A new statewide coalition aims to make its case to legislators on a familiar issue: electric utility competition. Energy Choice Now formed last August to encourage the State Legislature to pass bills raising the cap on electric suppliers in the state and effectively create more competition for the regulated monopolies — and in theory, at least, reduce costs for ratepayer.

Q&A: Mark Sellers

Written by | Thursday, 23 February 2012 09:51 |

After he left the investment world in Chicago, Mark Sellers came back to Grand Rapids to start BarFly Ventures LLC to open bars and restaurants in downtown. Sellers owns HopCat, The Viceroy, Stella’s, and McFadden’s, and is a partner in The Pyramid Scheme. MiBiz spoke with Sellers at Stella’s to discuss the downtown business scene, what’s needed and what’s next.

MAREC taps into accelerator funds

Written by | Monday, 20 February 2012 13:19 |

Michigan wants to put its foot on the gas when it comes to helping small businesses developing advanced technologies, particularly in energy. In a statewide effort, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center have partnered to facilitate the Business Accelerator Fund.

WEST MICHIGAN — Time is money to small businesses.

So the two hours that Jill Remijn saves each week doing paperwork at Woods Landscape Maintenance have value. Spending that time on matters other than printing out and mailing client invoices comes via a new online service offered by Mercantile Bank of West Michigan through, a Palo Alto, California technology company.

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