Jane You Ignorant

May 22, 2002
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"Professional observers" say:

There were three screw-ups in the OKB-5/3 deal: David Wagner's greed, which cannot be defended; the misstep when 5/3 Marketing Man Wil Daley joked with analysts about Pyrex, forgetting the new "open" SEC rules; and investors who talked.

As for our precious, uneducated city commissioner: Jane, you ignorant ...

How are you going to keep any locally headquartered business in the city when you paint the town with your ignorance rather than taking the opportunity to educate constituents — or maybe yourselves.

  • When Fifth Third President and CEO George Schaefer Jr. spoke to last Monday's Economic Club luncheon, Peter Secchia introduced him while wearing a flak jacket and goggles and wielding a shield. We're not sure at whom Secchia's media arrows were aimed, but, for once, none landed here.

Also of note is the "new boss's" (subtle) sense of humor. When facing what could be perceived by some as a "hostile" audience (depending who you believe), Schaefer had the nerve (and timing) to say he had thought about putting a Pyrex dish on each of the tables.

Now that's funny.

What's also funny is his method of dealing with issues. If you believe everything you read, Schaefer should have been walking into a lion's den at Econ. Instead, when he asked the 500-plus brightest business minds in the city if they had any questions, the silence was deafening.

Was that a little smile that played across Schaefer's lips when he called for questions again?

  • In other business:

Western Michigan University will move into Cherry Street landing at the end of March, and Design Plus will follow.

Geez, o Pete (Secchia)! First the S-Curve holds the whole thing up, then Mother Nature dumps a big winter on the project, and fi-nal-ly it has happened.

  • Now, about that parking mumbo-jumbo.

When you buy a building you get what you pay for. If the building happens to include parking, you pay more. If it does not, the property owner looks at — and pays for — alternatives or the provision of parking.

You do not, n-o-t, NOT go begging and or demanding that the city provide it. Please inform Jack Buchanan of the normal course of business and tell him to stop whining. City taxpayers should not, n-o-t, NOT be billed.

  • Just noticed this one in the Chamber newsletter: Design Plus will host the legislative reception/Business After Hours on March 15.

Where?

Newsletter does not say, but sources say the Design Plus move will happen closer to the end of March, not the middle. Maybe a last hurrah?

  • Also, don't forget Tom Hilliker (yet) and Grand Action possibly staying together (but not yet) after it finishes the convention center for the suburban (not yet) performing arts center.

Don't worry, though, Mr. Hilliker will keep his day job at Old Kent and he certainly won't be harassing any clients (or prospective ones) for arts money. Besides, who would think something like that would ever happen? The harassment, we mean, not (yet) the performing arts center.

  • It's Mich-AGAIN!!!

That's the headline of the March 2001 cover story in Site Selection magazine, as the state captured the coveted Governor's Cup award for the fourth straight year. It's the first time any state has been so honored four consecutive times.

"Michigan is, indeed, the 'ultimate survivor,'" said Gov. John Engler. "We've done it through a concerted effort to make Michigan the No. 1 state in attracting new and expanded business. Michigan is on top, on target, and on-line."

The annual Site Selection award recognizes states that have added the most new plants and have had the most expansion projects over the past year. Michigan led the nation with 2,358 of these, easily outdistancing runner-up California with 1,448 projects.

"The true scope of this accomplishment can only be realized when examining the other states Michigan beat," said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. "We beat California — a state that has the seventh largest gross state product output in the world."

Rothwell added that last year's projects created 34,000 new jobs in the state and resulted in billions of dollars in new investment. He expects to see continued investment through a pair of recent statewide initiatives; the SmartZones and the new high-tech Single Business Tax credits.

To qualify for Governor's Cup consideration, each project must be commercial or industrial, have at least $1 million worth of investment or reinvestment, involve 20,000 or more square feet of new construction, or create a minimum of 50 new jobs.

  • It's official (again), but for most Grand Rapidians, little has changed.

Spectrum Health's board of directors last week approved "new" names for its two hospital campuses.

After much thought they came up with (gasp!) "Spectrum Health-Blodgett Campus" and (say it ain't so!) "Spectrum Health-Butterworth Campus."

The Blodgett and Butterworth names "officially" disappeared in the 1997, but not from the local vernacular.

"They are not new names but they are names people are familiar with," said Spectrum CEO Rick Breon in what may qualify as the understatement of the year. "There is a connection people have with these names."

Ironically, it was an "outsider" who needed to see that connection. Breon comes from Indiana, but he certainly recognizes the value of a brand identity when he sees one.

"There are a lot of people who have been here all their lives who still call them Blodgett and Butterworth," he said.

In fact, about the only people who could keep the names straight were hospital employees.

Want evidence? Listen to the sick list read by clergy at just about any church in Grand Rapids. If the church can't get it right, how is the general populace expected to? 

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