Two For The Money

October 31, 2005
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Women, wealth and West Michigan go well together.

Two of the most decorated accounting professionals with local ties recently earned accolades befitting their status within the industry.

LeslieMurphy, who from 1993-98 was office managing partner for the Grand Rapids practice of Plante & Moran, last week was named chair of the board of directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which represents approximately 350,000 CPAs and affiliate members nationally. While in GR, Murphy helped double the size of Plante & Moran’s presence here.

Another star in the industry, MaryEllenRodgers, managing partner of the Grand Rapids office of Deloitte & Touche, has been named managing partner of assurance and enterprise risk services for all of Michigan. She now leads Deloitte’s largest service line in Michigan, encompassing 400 workers based in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Midland.

She will remain in charge of all facets of Deloitte’s West Michigan presence. Under Rodgers’ watch, revenues in Grand Rapids have nearly tripled in the five years ending May 31, 2005.

  • The Van Andel Institute dedicated a 14-foot, 1,200-pound glass sculpture by world-famous artist DaleChihuly at its fifth annual Celebration of Hope event Thursday. The late JayVanAndel had commissioned the piece in early 2004 to memorialize wife and VAI co-founder, BettyVanAndel.

The sculpture is of the DNA double helix, which led to the mapping of the human genome. Fittingly, it’s named “Life.”

VAI Chairman and CEO DavidVanAndel said his father chose to

commission Chihuly because he knew the artist’s works were “visually stunning” and that much of his work “celebrated the beauty of nature and of life.”

StuartSilver, former design director for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, noted that Chihuly rarely accepts a commission “to design an object that is already identified” because he likes to let his subject matter evolve on its own. He agreed to design “Life,” and a team of more than 70 artists at his Seattle studio spent several months crafting it.

  • City commissioners paid tribute to RosaParks, the 92-year-old civil rights activist who died at her Detroit home last week. Mayor GeorgeHeartwell said her death was a great loss for everyone. “What a sweet and gentle spirit she was and yet a courageous woman,” said the mayor. Third Ward Commissioner JamesWhite added, “The movement that she helped to inspire should remind us that when we come together we can do anything.”

Ms. Parks inspired the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus to a white man in 1955. Two years later, she moved to Detroit. Third Ward Commissioner RobertDean led the effort a few years back to name the MayaLin-designed park on Monroe Center in honor of Ms. Parks.

  • Holy window cleaning services, Batman!

A pair of workers from Award Window Cleaning Services (featured in the high-rise window cleaning story on B1) had a special treat planned for downtown Grand Rapids today. The two had intended on donning Batman and Robin costumes as they cleaned one of the larger office buildings. The owner of the building, however, opted not to have the windows cleaned this month, even by caped crusaders.

“Maybe next year,” said Mark Reinhart, the company’s president and owner. Reinhart had long considered dressing up as Spiderman during his window-cleaning days, but never mustered enough Halloween spirit.

But everyday life sometimes holds its own entertainment. When he was still working on the staff of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in the 1980s and cleaning windows somewhere around the 25th floor, he heard loud giggling and sorority girl laughter, and looked up to see “two big breasts pushed up against the glass.”

Ah, the hazards of the job are plentiful.

  • This Friday, Local First will be hosting Michael Shuman, attorney, economist, and author of “Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in the Global Age.”

Shuman has three points to make, he told the Business Journal: that local businesses contribute more to local economies and markedly more to urban regions; that locally owned businesses constitute the majority of U.S. business and are more likely to be expanding over the next 10 to 20 years; and that even though market forces are favoring the expansion of these businesses, because the community has so much at stake with their success, it needs to be aggressive in fostering and protecting them through local training, purchasing, investing and policy-making.

“The way I frame this is as a gigantic wrestling bout between two women,” Shuman explained.

It’s Lois (Locally Owned and Import Substituting) vs. Tina (There Is No Alternative to a global economy).

In past presentations, Shuman has noticed people are most surprised by local businesses making up the majority of the economy, that the country is relatively self-reliant (imports are only 16 percent of GDP) and, most of all, why economies of scale are shrinking.

“When oil prices go up, it will have really positive impacts on community economies,” he said. “More local businesses will be producing more goods and services for local consumption. Others, say Wal-Mart and China, have a harder go at it.”

The event — The Small-Mart Revolution — at Aquinas College’s Donnelly Center at 7:30 p.m., Friday, is a significant feat for Local First.

“To the community and to our membership, bringing in a speaker like this is really a sign of continued strength and legitimacy — although I don’t like that word — of the movement,” said Rob McCarty of The Image Shoppe, who is managing the event. “It shows what the organization is able to do, how strong the relationships are and that we’re doing a good job in West Michigan and will continue to do a good job.”

It was McCarty who convinced Shuman to make a Grand Rapids detour from his visit to the Kellogg Foundation this weekend.    

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