2002 Review March and April

December 30, 2002
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March

When spring turns to fall, Rogers Plaza will have a new look and new tenants. National discounter A.J. Wright and Family Fare Supermarket planned to move into the Wyoming shopping center by October.

Something new is coming to the East Fulton area, too. It’s called an Urban Business District and the East Fulton Business District is the second in the city (Eastown is the first) to gain the designation, which promotes neighborhood preservation and pedestrian friendly measures.

Businesses got some good news from government, for a change, when the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act included a three-year provision that accelerates depreciation on the purchase of capital goods from seven to five years, including an initial 30 percent write-off in the first year.

Writing off the $1.1 million bill for a marketing campaign to promote West Michigan as a place to play and work may be a little more difficult. So Kent County hotel and motel owners agreed to up their room tax to the county from 1 percent to 2 percent, thereby fueling an effort to promote the four-county region.

Another strategy change came from Herman Miller, which, in the wake of a 39 percent decline in sales for the quarter, announced plans to “consolidate” its efforts into a single brand, Herman Miller, and dump the SQA and RED lines.

April

The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel earned its 17th Four Diamond award for hospitality excellence from AAA and The 1913 Room picked up its fourth. It’s a nice time for downtown hotels in general, as the new convention center picks up steam. One consultant’s report shows that the area is about 1,000 rooms short of where it needs to be when the $220 million DeVos Place is completed.

Muskegon probably could use a few extra hotel rooms, too, after landing its largest sponsor yet for Summer Celebration. DaimlerChrysler signed on for a three-year deal that will pump six figures into the annual lakefront event.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft finally got around to keeping his date with West Michigan. The presidential adviser actually was planning to stop in Grand Rapids on the afternoon of Sept. 11, but was called back to Washington following the terrorist attacks.

Another change in plans concerned Dick DeVos, who in a surprising announcement informed Alticor’s board of directors that he was done as president on Aug. 31. No problem. There was still a DeVos at the helm when the changeover occurred, with Doug DeVos assuming the presidency and joining the new leadership generation for some of West Michigan’s most venerable businesses.

As April came to a close, good news outweighed the bad. Progressive AE, which turned 40 this year, received the 2002 Architecture Firm Award from the Michigan Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It is the state organization’s top honor and represented the first time a firm outside of metro Detroit captured the prize.

Van Andel Arena also fought through the doldrums, earning respect as the third-best ticket seller among North American venues. The 95,321 tickets sold, which excluded sporting events, placed the local arena behind only the First Union Center in Philadelphia and the Palace of Auburn Hills.

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