Dusting Off The Crystal Ball

January 7, 2008
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With 2007 now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to ponder tasks unfinished and hopes that carry over to a new year. The Business Journal “wish list” looks something like this:

Wouldn’t it be grand IF:

  • Pete Secchia’s West Michigan Sports Commission can lure topnotch activities to the area, boosting the economic outlook for suburban hotel operators, at the very least.

  • Hollywood filmmakers and independent movie productions follow the lead of Hopwood DePree and others who are part of Saugatuck’s successful Waterfront Film Festival in routinely conducting their business in Michigan, enhancing the awareness of the rest of the nation of this state’s attractions and resources.

  • Rich MacKeigan and the Convention and Arena Authority successfully pull off the first wine festival event in downtown Grand Rapids.

  • The thundering sound of horse hoofs circling Great Lakes Downs returns to bigger crowds and wiser marketing and promotion schemes.

  • Barton Watson and Michael Vorce become answers to Trivial Pursuit questions, and the effects from wayward loans and the subprime market fallout continue to diminish, reinvigorating a shell-shocked investment community and providing new life to dormant residential real estate transactions.

  • The legacy of Dirk Koning lives on with Grand Rapids and other West Michigan communities becoming truly wired and finding contractors who can deliver a widespread wireless Internet initiative and network.

  • David Van Andel sees the Center for Molecular Medicine and the Van Andel Institute put the spotlight on Grand Rapids by producing ground-breaking answers to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness. And that the aforementioned Mr. Secchia and Lou Anna Simon witness the now under-construction MSU College of Human Medicine in West Michigan quickly following the same path.

  • That Jim Koslosky and Gerald R. Ford International Airport successfully identify and attract more flight options, even offering service from those lower airfare carriers common in other areas.

  • That more tax-capture plans involving partnerships between neighboring municipalities, such as the one forged by Byron Township Supervisor Audrey Nevins and Division Avenue area parties, continue to be pursued to spur economic development projects that cross artificial and often damaging jurisdictional boundary lines.

  • That the buzz created by Randy Thelen and other economic development officials regarding the potential of the MSU bioresearch center planned for the former Pfizer facility in Holland turns into tangible results and a firm structure to build upon the anticipated economic benefit and spin-offs.

  • That there is a significant economic payoff for the Grand Rapids city commissioners’ new policy that makes state-issued liquor licenses available to restaurants and entertainment business located in qualified development areas such as the downtown district and Monroe North.

  • That state legislators and Gov. Jennifer Granholm not only find a way to get along but also produce sensible long-term initiatives that recognize the changing role of state government and the crucial impact it has on Michigan’s economic viability and essential services.

  • That more neighborhood-based initiatives such as the Brikyaat Plan endorsed by Mayor George Heartwell and the City Commission continue to emerge in Grand Rapids. Brikyaat residents united their Midtown location by taking it upon themselves to develop a plan to advance residential and business activity in the area.

  • That lakeshore developers recognize and duplicate projects such as Craig S. Adams’ Grand Landing that tie into the area’s link to the waterfront while providing commercial, residential and recreational opportunities for a growing clientele.

  • That a first-pitch date can be locked down for Holland Township’s Bill Driesenga and his local government colleagues for the proposed baseball stadium and adjoining complex near downtown Holland.

  • That Hackley Health and Mercy General Health Partners find a way to seal the deal on a hospital merger seen as a way to elevate Muskegon as a regional health care destination.

  • That the agreement promoted by Grand Valley Metropolitan Council Executive Director Donald Stypula and Plainfield Township Manager Robert Homan is reached and funds are put on the table to pursue a latent-demand or “needs” study of the public transit needs of the outlying areas, with the possibility of expanding The Rapids transit service into suburban and rural Kent County, and possibly eastern Ottawa County.

  • That the mushrooming effect of all the condominium projects and developments going up in downtown Grand Rapids find a plentiful supply of willing tenants to move in and spark further urban vibrancy in the area.

  • That we all return next year to speculate about all of the possibilities in 2009.

  • There is one establishment in Grand Rapids that hopes to take advantage of some of those possibilities in the form of potential new customers who will grace the downtown area in years to come. A long-time Grand Rapids watering hole has new owners and a new name. It's The Remedy Bar & Grill, located a short walk from the Medical Mile on Michigan Street. (They’re using the prescription symbol for the R in Remedy.)

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