Why West Michigan Here's Why

December 6, 2004
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Forget the pretty promotional brochures.

Forget the new convention center and the awesome arena.

Forget the tax breaks, financial incentives and diverse economy.

You can even disregard the quality-of-life issues that so many people mention when trying to recruit or retain businesses for West Michigan

Here’s why business thrives in this region: A group of shamed engineers whose company was under federal investigation and whose CEO killed himself inside his $750,000 Ada home put everything else aside and came through for an out-of-state client with the fate of a $200 million company hanging in the balance. And they did it while working hand-in-hand with an unfamiliar group of engineers from a competitor within the industry. And they did it over the long Thanksgiving weekend, a traditional time for family togetherness, not work. And they did it knowing they would be out of a job when that weekend finished.

And they kicked butt.

That is why businesses should be attracted to West Michigan. That is why the region’s reputation for an unprecedented work ethic is so well deserved. That is why every business, every CEO, every politician and every janitor should be proud to call West Michigan home.

If you didn’t catch Dan Schoonmaker’s story on page 1 about the CyberNET scandal, or if you think you know everything there is to know about the sordid affair, you are encouraged to go back and read the article.

It’s not about the CEO who killed himself, or the lavish vacations, palatial estates or priceless art that’s been associated with the CyberNET story seen in various media outlets over the past three weeks.

It’s about the people. It’s about the teamwork. It’s about saving the livelihoods of up to 2,000 families across the country that had members working for a Pennsylvania-based logistics firm that very few people in West Michigan have even heard of.

What a small band of CyberNET engineers, along with their counterparts at Grandville-based Trivalent Group, did was truly remarkable. It was miraculous. And it’s a microcosm of why West Michigan works.

It took the CEO of Trivalent Group exactly two minutes to realize a competitor and its client were in trouble, and that he could — and would — help. That it would involve horrific hours and grueling, intricate work over the long Thanksgiving weekend seemed to have little relevance. There was a job to be done and engineers from Trivalent and CyberNET felt ethically bound to do it. And they did — a foot of freshly fallen snow and accompanying logistics problems be damned.

That these CyberNET engineers forever might be associated with the stigma of their late CEO and all that surrounded him is an injustice.

Better that they tell the world they’re from West Michigan and proudly proclaim this region’s work ethic. And then tell of a Thanksgiving weekend in Grand Rapids that few who know the story will ever forget.       

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