Summer Fun

July 24, 2006
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Urban House, the downtown furniture store and design shop launched by Klingman’s Furniture alum Rock Kaufmann a decade ago, is settling into a new home on Cascade Road, with a new name: RockHomeStudio.

Interesting, this. Just when the city’s urban landscape has evolved to the point where Kaufmann’s clients are as likely to live within blocks of the

16 Ionia Ave. SE
store as in a Parade of Homes house in Ada or a condo in Florida, he bolts for the suburbs.

Recall that Kaufmann was one of the original investors in the downtown renaissance, as noted in the Sept. 25, 2000, Business Journal article, “Urban House’s Business Stays Good Right Downtown.”

“I’m really a believer in downtown and I wanted to support it,” Kaufmann said at the time. “We are more unique than any other store in town so we sort of have to be downtown because it makes us a little different from everybody else. It’s more of a destination point. I’m sure I could make a lot more money out on

28th Street
, but that’s not where my heart is.”

  • It had to be the Inside Track. Weeks after sitting for the Business Journal’s signature profile on June 19, John Ball Zoo Director Bert Vescolani was happy to announce that June was the zoo’s best attended month in 10 years. The 69,569 people who walked past the iconic statue of John Ball narrowly missed the high mark of 69,982 visitors from a month in 1996.

According to Vescolani, June is supposed to be a slow month for the zoo. Attendance for the first six months of 2006 is up 24 percent from 2005, with a projection of 350,000 visitors for the year.

Hmm, maybe it will boost the fundraising numbers?

  • Speaking of summer fun, Grand RapidsCommunity College professor Jeffrey Neumann used the first months of his break to complete a 906-mile bicycle trip around Lake Michigan. The electronics instructor circled through Traverse City, Mackinac, the Upper Peninsula (where this year’s global warming-ish heat wave has finally melted the snow), Green Bay, Manitowac (in Wisconsin, now), Milwaukee, Chicago, Gary, Ind., and finally home to Grand Rapids. All this in seven days.
  • Local technology firm NuSoft Solutions was honored as a finalist in Microsoft Corp.’s Worldwide Partner of the Year Awards for its work with Grand Rapids Internet startup Spout.com.

The award recognizes the work of certified Microsoft partners from across the globe in 14 categories. Finalists are considered to be the top companies in each category that are working with Microsoft architecture today.

NuSoft was the only U.S. firm nominated in its category — Custom Development Solutions Sales and Marketing — and easily the smallest. The winner, Cap Gemini, is an $8 billion French company with more than 60,000 employees in 30 countries.

“This was a true David versus Goliath victory,” said NuSoft President Keith Brophy. “Each of the other Microsoft partners that was nominated for building an application were large, global companies headquartered outside of the United States. … NuSoft’s ability to produce world-class application software that competes successfully in these international circles is a credit to the depth of top technology expertise that constitutes our Michigan-based work force.”

  • The American Chamber of Commerce Executives has named the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce as one of the Top 10 chambers in the nation for membership growth.

The chamber was recognized in two areas for performance statistics in 2005: Total New Member Dues Revenue and Total Number of New Members.

By themselves, membership statistics don’t mean a lot, assured chamber president John Crawford, but they are the ultimate validation of whether or not an organization is running meaningful, relevant and value-packed programming for the local business community.

  • One thing the Wyoming-Kentwood chamber hasn’t done is sign on with the boys of 23 is Enough, the Grand Rapids lobby adamantly opposed to the expansion of tribal gaming in West Michigan. Those who have signed on include the Holland chamber, gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos (who may or may not be funding Michigan Decency Action Council’s strip club lobbying in Grand Rapids), and former President Gerald R. Ford

This Saturday, July 29, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, built adjacent to an Indian burial ground, will be the site of an event celebrating the 1855 Treaty of Detroit.

Cosponsored by the museum and the Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians, the short program will unveil the treaty before a feast at Ah-Nab-AwenPark. The treaty is on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., the last signed between the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes of Michigan and the U.S. government.

It in no way addresses tribal gaming, but did end the threat of removal from Michigan and included land allotments for the Native Americans. Today, it helps to drive home the fact that recognized tribes are sovereign nations, which at one time didn’t have much reason to be friendly.

Grand River Bands Chairman Ron Yob is emcee of the event, taking time off from a fight for fast-track recognition from Washington so his tribe can access $4.4 million in federal aid. Rumor has it that the tribe already has a Muskegon condominium developer interested in bankrolling casino development if that goes through.

After viewing the treaty, take a swing out to Ada for a stop by The Averill Historical Museum, open through the weekend from to Admission is free. Of special note is a collection of tribal artifacts excavated by amateur archeologist Ruth Herrick in the 1940s and 1950s from the site of what is today the global headquarters of Alticor.

According to a recent editorial board meeting with 23 is Enough member and State Rep. Jerry Kooiman, there is a strong possibility that the tribe will eventually try to take that land back.    

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