Van Andel Polish Festival

July 10, 2006
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Try this on for size: The Centennial Wireless Polish Festival.

Hmm, that well might be running dry after an ice rink and Fourth of July. Maybe The Frederik Meijer Polish Festival? Or maybe the Polish Heritage Society could pick up the whole show and move it to the suburbs, a la the city’s manufacturing base and The Grand Rapids Press. Society president Ruth Anne Lomas did have some choice words last week about city attempts to extort $10,000 from her for previously rent-free, taxpayer-owned equipment.

Maybe the city could consider selling off chunks of Calder Plaza. With the Gus Macker, Polish and German festivals already tanked or relocated, and more events sure to follow suit, it would seem the city won’t be getting much use out of its traditional gathering place.

Maybe Blue Bridge Ventures’ Jack Buchanan has some ideas for that property. Failing that, if Duane Faust’s River Grand project goes through, those snow plows will have to park somewhere.

  • Congratulations are in order for Nelson Jacobson, who has stepped into the position of president and CEO of JSJ Corp. While he has been the heir apparent for many years, this marks the culmination of an extensive succession plan that has seen him work his way through roles at The Dow Chemical Co. and McKinsey & Co. before rejoining his family’s diversified Lakeshore company in 1986.

Nelson is the grandson of Alvin E. Jacobson Sr.¸ who founded the company in 1919 with Paul Johnson Sr., and was later joined by B.P. Sherwood (J-J-S=JSJ).

He succeeds Phillip Taylor, who has served as president since 1995 and CEO since 2000. Another third-generation JSJ leader, Lynne Sherwood, recently retired from her role as corporate secretary. She remains chairman of the board.

  • More celebration! Rowe International Corp., the Grand Rapids-based world leading manufacturer of coin-operated juke boxes, will celebrate “a musical milestone” Tuesday: the production of its one millionth jukebox.
  • In perhaps the most lopsided grbj.com survey ever, a whopping 95 percent of 76 respondents believed that municipalities should seek refunds from companies that do not complete the terms of their tax abatements. The question referred to the substantial debt owed the city of Grand Rapids by Steelcase Inc. for the abatements on its now-vacant manufacturing facilities.
  • The Third Annual West Michigan Communications Summit in 2004 turned out to be the last joint gathering between the local chapters of the American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America and Ad Club — there was no fourth summit.

Alas, Thursday night’s social networking event at McFadden’s on 58 Ionia St. SW in downtown Grand Rapids will fail to reunite the three groups, but it’s likely the next best thing. All local advertising, public relations, marketing and communications practitioners and students are welcome to attend the free event hosted by Ad 2 West Michigan and co-sponsored by Ad Club and PRSA.

  • Huntington Bank Marketing Director Michael Lindley has made the jump from corporate communications to literature with his debut novel, “The Seasons of EmmaLee.”

In the Sage River Press paperback, Lindley takes readers back in time to the small resort community of Charlevoix in the years before World War II. There, readers meet Emily Compton, a young woman of privilege whose family lives in the exclusive summer resort, and whose father owns the magnificent cruising yacht, the EmmaLee. Jonathan McKendry, son of a local boatyard owner, finds himself drawn into their world by his love for the girl and her daddy’s ship. The story simultaneously tracks a parallel love story set in modern day Charlevoix between a descendent of the Compton family and the boat’s new owner.

It was a Book of the Month selection by River Bank Books in downtown Grand Rapids.

  • One element certainly missing from the novel is Lindley’s experience in the fast-paced finance world. Another book due out this fall will be sure to meet the appetites of commercial finance fans that Lindley’s work doesn’t address, and it even features his day-job employer: “Virtual Millionaire: Barton H. Watson and The Great CyberNET Scam” by James M. Cameron.
  • The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce has named Steward Sandstrom its new president and CEO. He’ll retain his duties at the helm of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce in Iowa until the end of the month, when he’ll take over in Kzoo.

A 17-year-veteran of chambers in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Petoskey, Sandstrom appears to have spent a significant amount of time in Indian country.

Hopefully Sandstrom — one of only 455 chamber professionals in the nation with the Certified Chamber Executive designation — will start his job on July 31 with a strong opinion on tribal casinos, because he’ll almost certainly be asked for one by Aug. 1.

  • Speaking of gaming, Las Vegas has strengthened its claim as the king of convention cities, hosting a record number of the largest trade shows in 2005, according to the latest annual rankings by Tradeshow Week magazine.

Chicago, the U.S. convention capital for decades, tumbled into third place for the first time. Of greater note, however, is Louisville, Ky., in the No. 10 spot.

Recall that the city of Louisville is one of the dozens of municipalities Tennessee attorney Scott Bergthold has helped to forge laws banning or restricting adult entertainment, and then defended when the ordinances inevitably go to court. While courts have had the Louisville ordinance going from off to on as many times as a Sensations bikini top, the rankings do suggest that cities don’t have to welcome adult entertainment with open arms to be a convention destination.

Then again, it’s not known whether the conventions were scheduled or hosted during any of the few weeks that the ordinance — identical to the Grand Rapids law currently in court — was actually enforced.

Either way, maybe the notion of “Grand Rapids: For conventions that don’t want strip clubs or casinos” might work after all. Yes, Las Vegas has strippers and slots, but there are plenty of conventioneers out there looking for something like Louisville. Just ignore the three casinos within a 40-minute drive of Louisville.    

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