Singing The Praises

June 30, 2003
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How does business get done in Grand Rapids? Well, sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

At last week’s Convention and Arena Authority meeting, the board gave plenty of kudos to longtime Grand Rapids banker ChuckStoddard

Why? Because he knows some people with a lot of talent.

Stoddard was singled out for bringing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Van Andel Arena. More than 8,000 tickets were sold to the concert.

“Chuck really took the lead for the whole process. I would say that if it wasn’t for his strong effort, they wouldn't have come here,” said RichMacKiegan, SMG general manager.

JoeTomaselli reported the choir booked 300 rooms at the Amway Grand, but added that “the bar business at the hotel was a little slow.”

Stoddard is an elder in the Mormon Church.

  • Now it’s time to congratulate one of our own. JeffDykehouse, contributing photographer to the Business Journal, can now add National Award Winner to his resume.

Dykehouse’s photo of DustinKrzykwa, a cancer patient at DeVos Children’s Hospital, earned first place in the “All Children Need Children’s Hospitals” photo exhibition of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions. Fifty photographs from children’s hospitals around the country are included in the exhibit.

“Dustin and his family came to my studio just over a year ago,” Dykehouse explained. “I just remember he was such a happy kid. Even though you could see he was very sick and not feeling very well, he was trying his hardest to give a big smile, to be happy. He was a real trooper.”

A month later, Dustin lost his battle with cancer.

“We have photos from that day hanging in our house,” said LisaKrzykwa, Dustin’s mother. “Every day I can look into Dustin’s eyes and remember how special he is.”

Now the whole nation can look into Dustin’s eyes. His portrait, entitled “Dustin Being Brave,” is currently on display in the Rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

  • Great news, isn’t it, that Federal Prison Industries got its mitts off Steelcase’s contract to outfit the FAA’s new offices in Washington, D.C.? The only thing that upsets us is that the word emerged just about three hours too late for us to update our account of an interview on the subject with Pete Hoekstra in the June 23 edition.

Unfortunately, that’s the way it is in the newspaper business — sometimes the world just doesn’t honor your deadline.

But the good news is that our electronic version, the Business Journal Express (www.grbj.com) has no deadline, and was able to publish Steelcase’s better news immediately.

  • Remember a few years back how Muskegon managed to alienate a weeklong downtown waterfront convention-exhibition of international fireworks show producers? The seven-night show — which local residents had loved in previous years — wound up out west in some town whose officials knew enough to make the convention feel loved, needed and recognized.

Well, Muskegon seems to be shooting itself in the foot again. County government recently forced its airport administrator, Terry Grevious, original organizer of the Muskegon County Air Fair and who has directed it for years, receiving some — gasp! — pay for his efforts, to resign either from the fair or the airport. Not wanting to forego his regular salary, health care and retirement, Grevious quit the air fair.

The county’s timing, tone and treatment of Grevious, however, seems to have infuriated large factions of the enormous corps of volunteers he built over the years to operate the show. Those volunteers, in fact, have made the fair one of the nation’s most popular among fliers. That’s one reason the Blue Angels — the Navy’s F-18 precision flying team — is making an unprecedented second annual appearance at this week’s fair. Normally, the Angels don’t do return engagements.

So intense has been the reaction that some fair officials have allowed themselves to be quoted as wondering whether Gerald R. Ford International is an alternative to at least keep the show in West Michigan.

So, will Muskegon County International Airport go back to being just another nice, quiet little local airstrip?

And, by the way, will Muskegon somehow manage to make the Tall Ships visit sail into the sunset for good?

And as we said in the wake of the fireworks convention fireworks, stay tuned.

  • On the upside of things, after a 30-year hiatus cross-lake ferry service between Muskegon and Milwaukee will resume next year — high speed service, too. Muskegon will be able to call itself The Port City again.

There’s no telling what this could mean to West Michigan logistics and transportation firms — not to mention business and tourism travelers — but in terms of economic activity, it can only be a valuable adjunct to Muskegon’s downtown redevelopment process.

  • Any interest rate cut should help to stimulate business, right?

Well, not exactly. That’s according to MitchStapley, Fifth Third Investment Advisors’ chief fixed income officer.

He said the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut the federal funds rate by 25 basis points, to 1 percent — the lowest level in 45 years — actually may be a detriment to economic recovery.

“The Fed’s actions were somewhat disappointing to the financial markets, where there had been expectations for an even larger 50-basis-point cut.”

He said the Fed saw some hopeful economic signs, but the key line in the Fed statement said, “the economy, nonetheless, has yet to exhibit sustainable growth.”

Uh-oh.

“In the final analysis, what really matters to financial market participants is not whether the Fed lowers rates by 25 or 50 basis points today, but when do they consider raising interest rates?

“The acknowledgement by the Fed that the economy has yet to show any signs that it is generating sustainable levels of growth means that the Fed is on hold, and interest rates will remain at historically low levels for the foreseeable future,” Stapley said.    

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