Oops Youre Bankrupt

October 21, 2005
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It appeared to take only six weeks for Pioneer Construction Co. President Tim Schowalter to destroy the 82-year-old company he purchased from T.E. Beckering Enterprises President and CEO Tom Beckering in May.

On June 28, the firm filed for Ch. 7 bankruptcy protection as Pioneer General Contractors Inc., case 05-09065 in Grand Rapids.

But two days later, the case was dismissed by order of the court.

According to clerk Dan LaVille, Pioneer had intended to make an adversary proceeding against a debtor, but somebody made a goof.

“Whoever filed the case in the attorney’s office hit the wrong button,” LaVille said. “They just typed the wrong key; they totally never intended to file for bankruptcy.”

Calls to Pioneer’s attorney, Mark Kehoeof Mika, Meyers, Beckett & Jones PLC, were not returned.

  • Thus far, the Business Journal has managed to avoid using blogs or online forums as sources. Not that we don’t know they’re out there, it’s just that no good can come from quoting a source such as GRPunditor The Local Area Watch.

Well, here goes nothing…

The Grand Rapids thread of downtown development forum UrbanPlanet.org claims to have found a leak in Grand Action’s fall renovation plans for the Civic Theatre. Joedowntown, identified as a 32-year-old director of marketing for an online currency trading firm, posted this last week:

From an anonymous source:

— The Civic renovation will come in at around $14 million.

— A full-scale renovation is planned of all of the buildings they own.

— The current marquee will be replaced with a glass wall, with two grand open staircases leading to the balcony, allowing passersby to see the activity going on inside.

— Replication of some sort of “clock tower” or “widow’s peak” that was removed from one of the buildings. Supposedly the work on the tower has already begun. Anyone noticed? One source has it on the Monroe side.

  • Since we’re talking about blogs and Pioneer Construction, check out William Tingley’s at localareawatch.org. Posts last week include an incendiary retelling of the Old Kent Bank/Fifth Third Bank merger and the formation of Spectrum Health.
  • According to a recent issue of Crain’s Cleveland Business, the reform of the state tax structure in Ohio has economic development officials scratching their heads.

Because the tax bill will trim back intangible personal property tax bills in favor of real property tax bills by 2009, the enterprise zones commonly used by municipalities will fade away.

The new plan replaces a system that levied taxes on machinery and equipment, long hated by Ohio’s economic developers. However, the loss of the intangible personal property tax leaves many the incentives based on it, and corresponding business expansions and developments, up in the air.

Luckily, most of those packages can be applied against the new commercial activity tax, the CAT.

Yep, the CAT. It’s a tax of 0.26 percent on the gross revenue of all business entities. It ain’t the SBT by a long shot, but like its cousin to the north, the CAT hits businesses regardless of profitability, and could be a sign of things to come.

  • Those casino lobbyists are at it again.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Kalamazoo Gazette published an opinion piece by Michigan Gambling Association (MichGo) Vice President Jim Stringham claiming that they’d finally gotten around to talking to the businesses the casino will ruin. He said that the gas stations in Mount Pleasant all require patrons to pay before pumping, likely because they lose all their money at the casino. (The Dairy Mart a block away from Spectrum Health-Butterworth does too. See the pattern?)

The bank there is hiring more people for its installment loan program because more people are falling behind on payments. (Blame Central Michigan University’s double-digit tuition spike for that one.)

And he talked to Jeff Tuma, owner of The Embers, the famous and “barely surviving” Mount Pleasant restaurant, who, on Thursday, Aug. 18, sent a letter of his own to the Gazette, denying he’d ever met this Stringham guy, that there were no bars on the gas station windows, and the casino has been nothing but positive for business.

So what can we expect next? In next week’s Gazette, look for Stringham to chronicle his conversation with George Manypenny the long dead U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs memorialized in Mount Pleasant for his facilitation of the 1855 Treaty of Detroit, the document used to gain the Gun Lake Tribe federal recognition. The gist of the letter probably will be that the Shop-quo-ung Band of Pottawatomi, from which the Gun Lake Tribe is descended, was totally against casinos.

  • If it works for the military’s “an Army of one” campaign, why not try it on the home front?

The Convention and Arena Authority’s Operations Committee on Wednesday approved a tuition reimbursement policy for all CAA employees. The policy, which was modeled after the Kent County tuition-reimbursement program, was put together and explained to committee members by SusanWaddell, CAA administrative manager.

When Assistant City Manager GregSundstrom, who has a seat on the committee, asked to whom the policy applies, Waddell said, “Me. I’m the one and only employee.”

Waddell will start facilities management classes at Ferris State University in a few weeks.

  • CAA committee members also agreed to look into creating a plaque that would hang in DeVos Place and would honor all the major donors who funded the construction of the Grand Center and Welsh Auditorium.

SMG General Manager RichMacKeigan posed the idea to the committee and said there were about a dozen that gave to both buildings.

“Given the history of philanthropy in this community, doing this would fit with that history,” said MacKeigan.

Committee members offered some support.

“Facilities like this just don’t pop up,” said LewChamberlin, chairman of the committee and board member. “It makes sense to have some connection to the past.”    

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