Twice As Nice

October 17, 2005
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Looks like we owe an apology to the Joe Mochs, the junior of which has been named to the Business Journal's Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40. To our surprise (and just about everyone else's in the city), the long-delayed Icon On Bond residential development (538 Bond NW) looks to be a go.

And Gov. Jennifer Granholm, (in person, not a cardboard cutout or impersonator), will be on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony this Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Including Friday's appearance at GVSU's Padnos College of Engineering event, this marks an astonishing second West Michigan groundbreaking for the governor in a week — for a total of two West Michigan groundbreakings in her entire reign.

Why the sudden interest in the town Amway built? For the same reason we won't see her at next year's groundbreaking of the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

  • No longer driven by just soap and motivational tools, Alticor's church of Independent Business Owners (IBOs) continues to reinvent itself in the most imaginative of ways.

Last month, the Amway mad scientists were working overtime.

In the past month, Alticor has received patents on an avocado leaf extract to lower cholesterol and on a method for augmenting the immune system benefits of the Echinacea plant.

For the Access Business Group, Rockford inventor Roy Taylor filed to patent a water treatment system, California's Gopl Menon and Grand Rapids' David Fast for an anti-allergy concoction, and Fennville's David Baarman for a pair of patents on an inductive coil assembly.

For Quixtar, Jenison inventor William Kerker received a patent for a system and method of returning merchandise. Earlier in the year, a pair of Indian researchers was granted a U.S. patent on behalf of Quixtar for a computer program that predicts the purchases of IBOs based on the purchases of their child IBOs.

Other notable patents included Grand Rapids inventor Gary Watson's tree stand, a blind-spot checker for lane changes from Donnelly Corp., and a method to treat cancer using the anthrax virus created by the Van Andel Institute on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Oh, the bittersweet emotions West Michiganders are feeling. We are saddened (maybe deflated?) to hear that inflatable sports center Dome World is going out of business. At the same time, we are giddy to think that we'll be able to buy some cool stuff at the Oct. 20 auction of all the company's property. Perhaps some lucky bidder will lay claim to the dome itself. With that in mind, here's a list of potential uses for the mighty dome.

10.  Flip the dome over, convert its fans into outboard motors and start a guaranteed-not-to-sink Lake Michigan ferry service.

9.    Same as above, but use it as a floating casino. How many miles offshore do you need to go for it to be legal? Probably 23 is enough.

8.    Slap on a Dove logo and enter the dome into the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade disguised as a bar of soap.

7.    Rent it out. It's perfect for weddings. Woman: "Doesn't the bride look lovely?" Man: "What? I can't hear you over this enormous, deafening fan."

6.    Buy a few Gro-Lites and start Michigan's first banana farm.

5.    Use it as part of your gigantic sculpture of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

4.    Let's see. It's in Byron Township. It's close to the highway… Turn it into the country's first inflatable hospital! (We're looking at you, Spectrum.)

3.    Archery range? Mmm … nah.

2.    Cut holes in either end and place it under the Franklin Street overpass to protect drivers from falling debris.

1.    Move it to the North Monroe neighborhood and call it Eyesore on Bond.

  • WZZM is No. 1 and not afraid to let people know about it. Last week, the Grand Rapids ABC affiliate sent out a press release proclaiming its network's second-straight week of top primetime ratings in the valuable 18-49 age category. The network's success comes from the vast popularity of such family programs as "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," and "Wife Swap."

"With such strong programming leading into our newscasts, there is much to celebrate at WZZM," said General Manager JanetMason

However, the press release fails to mention that the same programming is available on WOTV, the area's other ABC affiliate. That would be the one that also is home to news broadcasts from its sister station, WOOD-TV8. Channel 8's news programming dominates the local ratings. So, it sounds like WOTV might want to celebrate, too.

**In this week's installment of Cold War II, West Michigan vs. China, we have J.P. Morgan economist Jim Glassman, a general session speaker at last Wednesday's 2nd Annual Global Office Furniture Symposium.

"Liz Claiborne, Nike, Wal-Mart — they're all in China. And (the United States is) benefiting as much as China is," he said. "We're sending wealth to one of the world's poorest regions and creating new hope in a large part of the world."

Glassman predicts a noticeable difference in the quality of life, and possible democratic reforms, in Asia within five years, with a payback to the Western world over the next generation.

He balks at the notion that globalization has harmed the economy. Job loss is the result of unprecedented productivity gains, he said, not outsourcing. By historical standards, U.S. employment is looking as strong as it ever has, and is still trending toward full employment despite the recent job loss.

Glassman also doesn't agree with widespread fears of the growing U.S. trade deficit, a balance of over $800 billion. There are no economic models that examine the long-term effects of a trade deficit, and other indicators show little impact either way.

"Right now, it's not an economic issue," he said. "It's a political one."

If employment is any indication, the country is nowhere near its capacity for consumption. As more enter the job market, the trade deficit should increase exponentially.    

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