The Fab 50

March 10, 2006
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Fifty influential women, and just more than 400 of their closest friends, joined the Business Journal for lunch Wednesday at Noto’s.

The celebration, by all accounts a rousing success, was a fun time for the 50 honorees to chat and network with each other, peers and, frankly, just some interesting people.

Like PamellaDeVos. Or, as she’s better known in the fashion world (by her label), pamella roland.

DeVos, honored as one of the Fab 50, was fresh off a very exciting Oscars celebration. Her designs graced actress JaneSeymour and comedienne NancyWalls (whose husband, SteveCarell, for some odd reason was shut out for his movie, “The 40 Year Old Virgin), at the 78th annual Academy Awards. “Will & Grace” star MeganMullally and recording artist Jewel also wore roland creations to the after parties hosted by Vanity Fair and EltonJohn

DeVos will be showing her design prowess on Thursday in conjunction with Leigh’s at a benefit fashion show for the Grand RapidsArt Museum

  • And just like the Oscars after-parties, good tidbits were available after the show at Noto’s, too. For those who appreciate fine restaurant experiences, TomNoto is working on a “plan.”

Watch for the Italian fine-dining spot to find a way to fashion an oven/fireplace that will serve both indoor and outdoor patrons. And can’t you just taste the wood-fired pizzas that will be forthcoming.

  • Maybe the laugh of the day, or at least wistful smile, went to Mayor George Heartwell. When Business Journal Publisher John Zwarensteyn was introducing featured speaker and Michigan State University President LouAnnaSimon, he mentioned the university’s $1.2 billion capital campaign and how Simon had already secured nearly $1.1 billion.

The mayor could only shake his head, probably thinking about his cash-strapped city’s budget woes.

  • It’s likely Heartwell would have chatted with Simon following the presentation, but he was corralled by Rachel Ruiz and a WOOD TV8 camera crew immediately upon standing up from his lunch.

Wonder what they were talking about?

One has to wonder about the relationship between “downtown mystery development” real estate broker Deborah Shurlow and WOOD anchor Suzanne Geha, and what’s behind it all.

Maybe the unknown developer gets a kick out of Gehacooing over everything Shurlow says like an extra on a Saturday afternoon infomercial: “10,000 jobs! Multibillion dollar investment!”

Maybe it’s because the station is willing to help paint public perception against holdout property owners like Dave Custer of Custer Office Environments without asking if Project X is valuable enough to dislocate the original pioneer of that neighborhood.

Or, it might just be that the TV station isn’t going to point out the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

  • On that note, Grubb & Ellis/Paramount sent out an interesting press release the week before last, asking the media to “cease and desist” its potentially harmful investigation of the project.

Apparently the request didn’t apply to WOOD TV8. Grubb’s still riding that PR engine and even had another televised Geha/Shurlow heart-to-heart the day after the “cease-and-desist” writ was issued.

  • Mechanized March Madness — Why watch primitive human-powered basketball on television, when you could be watching robots?

A team of young engineers from ZeelandHigh School will be at PurdueUniversity in West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend to show off “Bob,” their Nerf-ball-launching robot. As part of FIRST’s 2006 Boilermaker Regional, the team’s robot will compete against other schools’ entries, playing in a game called “Aim High,” that combines elements of lacrosse, American Gladiators, and Harry Potter’s sport of choice, Quidditch.

Are these young engineers the technological leaders of tomorrow? Possibly, judging by their sponsors. Longtime robo-patrons for the Zeeland team such as Pfizer Inc., Gentex Corp. and Herman Miller Inc. may be up to some NBA-style scouting of the local high school talent pool.

  • Speaking of robots, Spectrum Health just announced that it has acquired “one of the most advanced surgical robotic systems available,” the da Vinci S Surgical System. The robo-surgeon will be used for coronary and prostate procedures.

For any concerned pre-operative patients, the Business Journal has some recommended reading: “How To Survive A Robot Uprising: Tips On Defending Yourself Against The Coming Rebellion.” This is mandatory reading, according to its author, Daniel H. Wilson

“How else will you survive the inevitable future in which robots rebel against their human masters?” Wilson asks.

An apple a day probably won’t help.

  • Color us amused. If one word can sum up the multi-faceted international business of Grandville-based X-Rite Inc., it’s “color.” The company makes sure that America’s walls are the same color as the paint chips they take home from Lowe’s, and that photographs in publications such as the Business Journal are vibrant and stunning (well, colorful anyway). With that in mind, doesn’t it seem odd that X-Rite CEO Mike Ferrara’s office is gray, and that the company’s top executives all drive black cars? We sure thought so.
  • Hey dude, where’s my bike?

If you live in Grand Rapids, the answer is probably “Where you parked it, dude.” A recent study by the Progressive Group of Insurance Companies ranked Grand Rapids as the least likely place for motorcycle theft in the nation, based upon metro areas of more than 500,000 residents. That ranking adds fuel to Michigan’s east vs. west rivalry, considering that Detroit-area motorcyclists are 69 percent more likely to have their bikes stolen.

Yep, we West Michiganders don’t let anyone mess with our bikes — except ourselves. The study also ranked the likelihood of motorcycle crashes. Grand Rapids bikers crash their bikes 13 percent more frequently than the national average. Detroiters on motorcycles (stolen or otherwise) are much less likely to crash.

And, if this offers any consolation for our lousy March weather, the beach bums of Honolulu, Hawaii, have a 500 percent higher likelihood of having their motorcycles stolen.    

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