Welcome To The New Economy

October 9, 2006
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Good reporting mirrors what is occurring in the region, and the reflection in this issue of Grand Rapids Business Journal is striking: the "new economy" has emerged in West Michigan

  • The MichBio Expo this week brings together more than 500 life sciences professionals from across the state — in Grand Rapids. The event includes panel discussions on developments in the drug, medical device and diagnostic fields, presentations by life sciences experts and an industry exhibition, but begins with a student career day for invited high school students. Tours extend from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo; symposiums include law, insurance, marketing and facilities professionals.
  • The report on Dematic, formerly Siemens Dematic, is a story about a comeback in a business founded in Grand Rapids in 1939. Dematic President and CEO Prashant Ranade reflects, "We're engineers focused on innovation and next-generation products …" A multi-million dollar investment in research and development at the GR-based Technology Center resulted in 12 patents last year and filings for another 16 patents. "And it's all happening here in Grand Rapids," said Dematic IT Product Manager Raghunath Thirikodu.
  • The Michigan Homeland Security Consortium, chaired by Grand Rapids businessman Keith Brophy (NuSoft Solutions), announced establishment of a $1 million fund to provide capital and resources for homeland security startups. Investments in the new entrepreneurs are expected to range from $10,000 to $30,000, but could be as much as $100,000, and another key component is establishment of in-kind service donations of legal, financial or marketing advice from area businesses. Clark Hill PLC law firm is the first major sponsor.
  • Retired Steelcase executive Peter Wege has long funded environmentally friendly projects, agencies and buildings, and the domino effect of those efforts is now obviously seeded in this community. Grand Rapidians employed by Steelcase, Herman Miller and Interface have since the mid-1980s assisted the U.S. Green Building Council in writing the first standards for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification. This week there are no less than a half-dozen stories regarding one element or another of environmentally strategic projects.

Bazzani Associates, West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Lake Affect Design Studio last week were awarded a Double Gold LEED Certification from the USGBC for the East Hills Center (of the Universe) building. The Grand Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is determining establishment of a NeighborhoodDesignCenter to offer assistance with an assortment of "green" and LEED certification initiatives, while assisting the West Michigan Strategic Alliance program to help communities in seven counties create green infrastructure master plans. Michael Holcomb, president of Alliance for Environmental Sustainability and owner of Home Inspector General Inc., was selected by USGBC as one of eight faculty nationwide. Even Exhibit Design Consultants created a "green" conference room, notable for its bamboo, and used green materials in its new headquarters in an existing building. These projects are the latest of dozens of such projects in Grand Rapids, including the new David D. Hunting YMCA, the new Grand RapidsArt Museum, plans for additions to the Grand Rapids Ballet Company building, the new RapidTransportationCenter, Forest HillsEasternHigh School and AlgerMiddle School

Welcome to the "new economy."    

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