Voice And Vision

July 11, 2003
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Part of Grand Rapids' illustrious past includes the Voices & Visions campaign, which delved into the development of a "new" downtown and what it should look like in the 21st century.

To borrow from the phraseology of that study, there is a man in town whose vision and voice have become synonymous with promoting cultural diversity and thereby creating economic diversity as well.

To that end, BobWoodrick, founder of D&W Food Centers Inc., will be honored by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce with the first annual "Visionary Award" for his stellar leadership and contributions raising awareness of racism and cultural diversity within the business sector.

The newly created "Visionary Award" is presented to an individual or company for their outstanding efforts to foster a climate of inclusion and understanding. Woodrick began discussions about the immorality of racism with other business leaders in the early 1990s. The discussions led to the formation of the Employer's Coalition for Healing Racism and the Cultural Diversity Council, both housed at the chamber. Since that time, the chamber has been the catalyst in providing the Institutes for Healing Racism to the Grand Rapids community. More than 900 individuals have completed the 10-week course. To date, over 100 local businesses provide support to these efforts.

"Racism has no place in our society, and as leaders we have to think that way. We have not found a way to bring the communities together. The change is not going to be like a tidal wave. It's going to be a lot of little, small victories, and that's the beauty of the institutes. People go through a small transformation. I am proud of the progress in West Michigan," said Woodrick.

Much of that progress has occurred in Woodrick's own grocery stores, which are a model for the type of society he is helping to create.

"We are very grateful for his dedication to combating this disease called racism. This community has benefited greatly from his vision and commitment," said JohnBrown, GRACC president.

Woodrick will be presented the award at "Accepting the Challenge, " a dinner to benefit the diversity programs of the chamber. The dinner will be held on July 30 at the Amway Grand Plaza Ambassador Ballroom starting at 5:30 p.m.

The dinner's keynote speaker will be Edwin J. Nichols, Ph.D.

Nichols, one the country's leading authorities in applied behavioral science, will share his expertise in managing multi-ethnic and pluralistic work forces. He has years of experience as a clinical/industrial psychologist, and is the director of Nichols and Associates Inc., based in Washington, D.C. Tickets are $45 each. To register online, go to www.grandrapids.org, or use the RSVP hotline at (616) 771-0303.

  • Here's another visionary outlook.

Grand Rapids Parking Commissioner BobSullivan, who also knows a little something about hotels and the new convention center in downtown Grand Rapids, offered his view of the immediate future: "No additional hotel rooms are needed for 2004 than (what we have) in 2003. There are a few days next year that will raise demand, but as someone once told me, you don't build a church just for Easter Sunday."

Spoken like a true Grand Rapidian.

  • Uh-oh, Huge just got Huge-r

Sports talk show host BillSimonson, known as "Huge" on air, has signed an agreement to participate in WXMI FOX-17's sports coverage starting in September.

The (very) opinionated and strikingly funny (see Grand Rapids Magazine's Comedy Joke-Offs) Sparta native might be a good fit at FOX-17.

The station's brass seems to think so.

"We have special things planned for Bill," said EdFernandez, FOX-17's vice president and general manager. "As the television home of high profile local sports, including Detroit Lions/NFL football and Michigan/MSU football, it's a perfect union to team up with Bill. Huge is a proven talent and his wide appeal will fit nicely into FOX-17's 'Where The Big Boys Play' mantra."

Careful what you wish for, Ed, because Bill's not just big — he's Huge!

  • Don't read anything into this, following Huge and all, but we end with a franchising opportunity you shouldn't hold your nose at.

Cape Cod-based ElizaJ Co. is launching a national independent contractor program, and you can get in on the ground floor.

The opportunity? It's "upscale deliverable restrooms for special events." Or portable bathrooms.

The announcement reads: "Described as 'elegant, refined and discreet' by a long client list of caterers, party rental companies, wedding planners and other high-end event organizers, ElizaJ focuses on top-of-the-line quality products and dedicated, first-rate customer service. From music and fresh flowers at the sink to designer soaps and lotions, name brand paper products and wicker wastebaskets and air fresheners, ElizaJ provides deliverable restrooms of distinction."

We are not making this up.

"Our independent contractor program is an ideal business opportunity for someone who is seeking additional income," said ElizaKendall, company founder. "From teachers, firefighters and at-home mothers to those looking to be their own boss, set their own hours and join the ranks (their word, not ours) of proud entrepreneurs, ElizaJ is a unique income opportunity."

Did we mention this company is on the East Coast?

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