Challenges Build Anticipation Of Discussions, Recognitions

October 10, 2008
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This year has not been without its challenges, but there are two events this fall in Grand Rapids that may salve business bruising.

Some have called it a residential real estate “implosion,” but one could also say the sub-prime “explosion” left debris scattered in the direction of every financial institution, leaving residual marks on commercial and industrial real estate lending.

Chris Beckering, Grubb & Ellis|Paramount told parent publication Grand Rapids Business Journal: “Banks are willing to lend money at very aggressive rates; however, it seems to be increasingly difficult to get loans approved.” Beckering also noted regional banks are finding better opportunities in other parts of the country and are focusing capital in those areas.

Huntington Bank West Michigan Region President Jim Dunlap told the Business Journal that one year ago, Michigan accounted for 23 percent of Huntington’s commercial real estate loans among all states in which it operates. West Michigan alone added up 11 percent of that Michigan total, but Dunlap said the state figure has now dropped to 13 percent, and West Michigan has dropped to 5 percent.

While commercial and industrial real estate professionals and business owners in related fields are meeting unique challenges this year, the Michigan Business Tax has proven to add financial misery and bottom-line insult.

Two major events this fall provide some tonic.

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce recently announced it will host a Regional Policy Conference in Grand Rapids Sept. 18 and 19, specifically aimed at such issues as the MBT and Right to Work legislation. The steering committee includes Dunlap, Peter Secchia, Doug DeVos and Jeff Connolly. The conference already boasts participation of more than 200 business leaders and legislators — from across the state of Michigan.

While the policy conference will give the muscle of action to regional issues, it is interesting that in this year the 22nd annual University of Michigan Real Estate Forum and Urban Land Institute will meet almost one month later, for the first time in Grand Rapids instead of Southeast Michigan.

Grand Rapids Business Journal and Crain’s Detroit Business are co-sponsoring the conference, which highlights a dozen topics in which West Michigan has been successful. Highlights include tours of various venues and projects in the metro area, including the Medical Mile, Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus, Cherry Street Landing, and the JW Marriott. West Michigan know-how focused on green building, the number of LEED-certified buildings, the regional West Michigan Strategic Alliance and new transit plans all will be highlighted.

As part of the UM-ULI conference, Grand Rapids Business Journal is seeking nominations of businesses for the first West Michigan Real Estate Excellence Awards. The Business Journal (and Commercial Quarterly) will honor five companies or individuals: during the conference in the following categories:

—Development of the Year

—Redevelopment of the Year

—Lease of the Year

—Sale of the Year

—Excellence Award

Judges will include representatives of the University of Michigan, the Urban Land Institute and Grand Rapids Business Journal editors.

Duplicate awards will be presented to winners from Southeast Michigan based on nominations on the east side of the state.

We look forward to recognizing the best of the best in West Michigan, particularly after so challenging a year.

— Carole Valade

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