All The Worlds A Stage

May 13, 2002
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How much activity can be crammed into a single week? Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce President John H. Brown is just one of the individuals who may need new treads on his shoes after fast tracking between World Trade events and those of the chamber’s Small Business Week celebration. Add to that the DeVos Hall lobby “unveiling” and the comings and goings of current and future politicians ... and that trial.

And speaking of shoes, Wolverine World Wide was not among the world traders shaking hands with Chinese representatives last week, perhaps noticeable for its long, long commitment to the program. But then, shoes are among China’s top three exports.

The delegation drew a crowd of interested business owners, and a surprising number of companies from China doing business in the greater Grand Rapids metro area. It also drew another welcoming committee of heckling protestors. World Trade Week chairman Rich Cook (X-Rite CEO) took an opportunity to talk with members of the group, and listen to their concerns. But he reserved his comments for guests inside the Gerald R. Ford Museum where the opening reception was held. And many of the Grand Rapids area guests made a point with Chinese visitors, that democracy provides everyone an opportunity to be heard.

  • Not welcome? While the co-winners of the 2002 Small Business of the Year Award were applauded, Grand Rapids accounting firm owner and Small Business Administration of Michigan board member Paul Hense flew last-minute to D.C. and the national conference. “They” know him well there, for his continued representation of small business concerns, succinctly presented in punctuated single sentences.

It seems Hense was telling another story regarding his small business, and in the telling, national SBA staff saw the light for a renewed presentation. The SBA opened its conference Wednesday with a press conference announcing a proposal for a Small Business Tax Equity measure, and is said to have the interest of President George W. Bush

Small business owners know the drill: no health care cost credits for their own insurance, no education or child care credits ... and so goes the list. Hense said that he had discussed a partnership advancement with one of his staff, and she, upon discovering she would no longer have such credit, declined. In further conversation Hense described the scenario of a single mother, who faced with the loss of those tax benefits, realized she could not afford to own her own business. Hundreds of neighborhood small business owners know well what he is talking about.

Hense commented, “These tax laws do not make sense. A small business owner is only asking for what everyone else already has. I tell the bureaucrats every year, ‘We just want what you have.’ The attitude is that all business owners are bad, and they can’t ‘give’ us the same benefit they enjoy. It doesn’t make sense. It’s anti-American.”

Stay tuned for round 6.

  • And then there were 10. After press time last week, another candidate for one of two new judge seats in 17th Circuit Court withdrew from the race. DeborahMcNabb, a Kent County court referee, filed her petitions in Lansing by the required deadline but then opted against running for the post. She joins Kent County Commission Chairman SteveHeacock on the sidelines. Heacock withdrew just before the filing deadline.

  • Gerald R. Ford International Airport’s JamesKoslosky presented a report on security and safety issues at Thursday’s Kent County Board of Commissioners meeting, but the airport director was caught flat-footed when Vice Chair DavidMorren asked a question.

“Who decides who gets searched and who doesn’t?” Morren asked. Koslosky responded that he has been searched many times while traveling by air, and probably was about to give an intelligent response when Morren cut him short.

“The reason I ask is, even though I don’t travel by air much, in the past month I’ve traveled with our illustrious county administrator and he’s been everything short of strip-searched on both legs (of the trip),” Morren said, much to DarylDelabbio’s chagrin. “It must be the shifty eyes,” cracked another commissioner, amid laughter from all.

Delabbio added fuel to the fire at the end of the meeting when he admitted having a “copy machine problem” and told commissioners to look for an amended memo in their boxes. “That’s why you get searched at airports,” responded a commissioner.

  • Calvin College’s 380-foot pedestrian walkway over the East Beltline has an official name: Calvin’s Crossing. To come up with the name, Calvin held a contest that drew about 150 entries, everything from the serious to the sardonic. There were suggestions as simple as Dwight and as silly as Dude, Where’s My Overpass? Some suggested naming the structure for Calvin President GaylenByker, while others favored naming it after long-time Chaplain DaleCooper

Five people actually submitted the winning moniker. Students JillBaker, AndreaHagerup, MicahSytsma and SteveZaagman, along with college communications director PhilDeHaan, came up with the alliterative name. The students each received $100 for their creativity.

DeHaan, presumably, did not.           

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