Money Train

November 8, 2004
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It looks like Hospice of Michigan will need to spend considerable time in the counting house. The group raised well more than $1.3 million for pediatric hospice programs through the "Big Picture Project," which this weekend featured the Midwest preview of "The Polar Express" starring TomHanks

Frequent Business Journal contributing photographer JeffDykehouse also was instrumental in the project.

The movie gets its name and illustration from East Grand Rapids native ChrisVanAllsburg, who was awarded a Caldecott Medal for the book in 1985, and helped director RobertZemeckis create the animated movie version.

Van Allsburg spent the entire week in Grand Rapids, not just for book signings and movie events, but also in the classrooms at CalvinCollege and KendallCollege of Art & Design at FerrisStateUniversity

The movie preview (so called because Los Angeles was given rights to the "World Premiere") drew most of the metro area's VIPs, but the anticipated arrival of MuhammadAli never materialized. Ali's agents had called late in the week to say he had to cancel.

Even greater excitement was generated, however, as PeterScolari arrived with his two young children, Keaton and CaliScolari is one of the three cast members in the movie with Hanks and Nona M. Gaye. Scolari and Hanks go all the way back to 1980, when the then-fledgling actors starred together in the ABC sitcom "Bosom Buddies."

Bigger still was the gratitude and praise for JamesFahner, M.D., who helped start the Hospice program, and his event co-chair, JuneHammersma

  • The White House is still occupied by President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry still has his seat in Congress, so not much has changed on the political front, right?

Well, not exactly. According to the Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan House of Representatives will have a decidedly small business flavor next year.

SBAM calculates that 47 of 110 state representatives next year will either own a small business or have their roots in small business. This compares to 41 House members this year. SBAM said 21 of the 36 lawmakers elected last Tuesday fit into the small business category.

"This is an encouraging trend that tells us something very positive about the visibility and importance of entrepreneurship and small business in Michigan," said SBAM President RobFowler. "Clearly, voters responded to candidates whose campaigns highlighted an entrepreneurial background — the experience of having to meet a payroll and focus on bottom-line results. Voters want those kinds of successful, results-oriented people making decisions in the legislature."

Fowler added that the 47 lawmakers include 35 Republicans and 12 Democrats, indicating "the potential for strong bi-partisan support in addressing these challenges."

  • SBAM's all-star in the legislature, however, just might be on the Senate side.

The organization credits Sen. WayneKuipers, R-Holland, with a 100 percent score on SBAM's list of key Senate roll call votes during the 2002-04 session, ranging on issues from taxes and regulation to health care.

"As we look toward the tax and regulatory issues that will be considered in the next legislative session, we urge all lawmakers to be as perceptive as Sen. Kuipers to the needs of small business," Fowler said.

KenSikkema, R-Wyoming, was cited for voting with the SBAM position at least 90 percent of the time.

  • Small business gets another turn in the spotlight tonight when a trio of home-based entrepreneurs from Cedar Springs is featured at on "Buy American Radio."

The worldwide Internet talk-radio show, which is hosted by New York Myke, can be accessed at www.wsRadio.com

The hour-long show will profile MelodySystma from LainaLine, a children's specialty clothing maker that is completely hand tailored; JayneSchumann of White Creek Tile, a manufacturer of "Write On Tile," a handcrafted, ceramic message tile with kiln-fired designs that uses dry-erase markers for decorative purposes; and MaryGardner from Grandpa Joe's LLC.

"Mary invented a sweet, spicy blend of herbs and spices that covers the human scent, attracts deer and can be used as a feed," said RonSchaefer, senior account rep for wsRadio.com.

And you thought Cedar Springs was best known for its Red Flannel underwear.

  • Speaking of what cities are known for, a new book by SylviaLovely called "New Cities in America: The Little Blue Book of Big Ideas" prominently features Grand Rapids

The Lexington, Ky.-based author includes a section on the $7.5 million Avenue for the Arts Initiative, which will turn several rundown buildings on

South Division Avenue
into 23 loft apartments where artists can live and work.

Lovely quotes AndyGuy of the Michigan Land Institute (and a Grand Rapids resident).

"You'd almost have to live in this community to fully appreciate what's being done, particularly on

Division Avenue
," he said. "If Grand Rapids ever had a red-light district, that was it. But you go down that road now and it's about ready to explode with all kinds of economic development. There are new businesses opening and signs about space for lease. It's a pretty exciting transformation."

The book credits Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids CEO DennisSturtevant with leading the charge along Division and in the Heartside neighborhood, working with lawmakers, developers and public and philanthropic funding sources to find "creative ways to make the project a long-term success."

"He's just done some unbelievable stuff in really mining all the opportunities in state law and finding other funding," Guy said of Sturtevant. "He's looked at all kinds of potential money and wired it up to where it works."

The book also hints at the burgeoning life-sciences industry locally and mentions Gov. JenniferGranholm's Cool Cities Initiative.

Not bad for just three pages.    

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