Hitching up to solid support on trail to promoting Michigan

June 15, 2009
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The state’s Pure Michigan marketing campaign has become a target for possible state budget cuts, so it’s not too surprising the marketers have turned the focus on some “pure cash” private sector support to spread the campaign’s reach.

Fremont Insurance Co. has entered into an agreement with the Travel Michigan Association to jointly utilize and promote the campaign, complete with billboards such as the one pictured here. Originally developed to feature the state’s tourism industry, the slogan’s use is also particularly applicable to Michigan-based and Michigan exclusive companies, the agency maintains.

Fremont Insurance has good reason to tout its deep roots in Michigan, since it was founded in 1876, with its company headquarters in Fremont. The company’s entire insurance business covers Michigan homes, autos, farms, businesses, boats and associated liabilities.  More than 175 insurance agencies statewide are licensed to offer these products.

“The puremichigan.com Web site provides an outstanding summary of Michigan businesses, destinations, activities and features,” according to Kurt Dettmer, vice president of marketing for Fremont Insurance. “It is very professional, and individuals are encouraged to access and view the Web site. We are very grateful to partner and to assist in promoting our state and its great resources.”  

Give me that filet of fish

The new Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network was dedicated last week, and golf cart pilot Peter Secchia showed Fred and Lena Meijer around the first phase of the 1,500-acre urban park for which Secchia has been a driving force. Other donors to the Kent County Parks Foundation also were feted as the association marked its 10th anniversary. Secchia noted that, while touring, the group saw several swans, nesting birds, a blue heron, a couple large turtles sunning their shells, two deer and a fawn.

“(The) biggest surprise of all was this man who was fishing near one of the new lakes that just opened, due to the new access via the Meijer Millennium Trails,” Secchia recounted later. “He and his son had caught 25 fish (including) one large mouth bass, and said they also saw several 24-inch pike and larger bass. The trails are beautiful. Fred and Lena loved it. Roger Sabine was extremely proud and the west side can now claim this gem where $36 million has been spent and we now own (or control) 98 percent of the land within its 1,500-plus acres.”

Secchia noted that projects yet to be completed include a boathouse ($500,000 has been pledged for the project estimated to cost $900,000), a community picnic area on the north bluff (for which a “bid donor” is needed, he said) and more trails.

So far, private sector pledges and gifts are at $15.3 million; Kent County has spent $15.5 million and state funds total $5 million, Secchia said.

Was March 9 the bottom?

One senior member of a Grand Rapids securities brokerage firm, who has been watching the stock market professionally since 1959, casually noted to a Business Journal reporter that some experts think that on March 9, the market began recovering from the brutal beating that started late last summer.

Later that day, the reporter asked E. Donald Wierenga, senior financial consultant at Centennial Securities, if he had heard the market finally turned a corner on March 9.

Wierenga laughed — then implied that it may be true.

Oh, really?

"There are lots of people who say that's the date," he added. "There are a couple of analysts and a TV commentator who called it on that date, actually — that 'Today is going to be the bottom.'"

Of course, no one can know for certain yet if March 9 was the absolute rock bottom of the Great Recession. But that was the day the Dow Jones industrial average hit a 12-year-low — and it has surged 30 percent since then.

The S&P 500 was at a record low that day: 676. Now it's well over 900.

"There are two schools of thought," said Wierenga. "One: That was the bottom. Two: We're going down for another dip."

At Centennial, he said, "we're inclined to believe we've had our bottom, and we're headed back up."

Amen.

Lakeshore ATHENA on tap

The Lakeshore ATHENA Award, a program of The Chamber of Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for the fifth annual awards. Nominations are sought for individuals who demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession, have provided valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in their community, have assisted women in reaching their full leadership potential and have exhibited the spirit of regional collaboration. The award will be presented during an Oct. 6 luncheon in Spring Lake.

Nominations must be submitted by July 17 using the nomination forms that can be obtained from the Web sites of the lakeshore chambers, or by calling one of the chamber offices.

A blast of a fundraiser

Those boots are made for dancing. The American Cancer Society is teaming up with area business and community leaders to host the seventh annual Cattle Baron’s Ball, which will be held at the Steelcase Town Hall from 6:30-11 p.m. Aug. 14.

The Cattle Baron’s Ball is a Western-themed cornucopia of food, live music, auctions and entertainment. The event is led by the work of volunteers and local corporate sponsors. Jim Teets, president of ADAC Automotive, Patricia Teets, Roger Schiefler of Midwest Realty, and Kathleen Schiefler, owner of Kathleen & Co., are serving as the volunteer executive co-chairs.

“The Cattle Baron’s Ball is an opportunity for those of us who have a passion for the fight against cancer to join together for an evening of down-home fun at one of the year’s most imaginative, high-energy charitable events,” said Teets. “I look forward to an exciting and successful event as our executive committee and I work to help the American Cancer Society save lives and create more birthdays here in West Michigan.”

First launched in Texas in the 1970s, the American Cancer Society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball has proven to be a successful fundraising model nationwide. Since its 2003 debut in Grand Rapids, the Ball has raised more than a $1.8 million in support of cancer research, education and patient service programs.

A new component of this year’s event is the addition of the Young Leaders Council, a group of approximately 50 West Michigan young professionals who are helping to engage the area’s young community leaders in the mission of the American Cancer Society.

“The Young Leaders Council provides an opportunity for the young leaders in our community to be a part of the planning and implementation of one of the area’s most successful gala events,” said Mike Lindhout, area executive director of the American Cancer Society. “This passionate and dedicated team of professionals leading the charge to engage our community’s younger demographic is a testament to the inherent commitment and generosity that makes West Michigan truly stand out in the fight against cancer.”

For more information call (616) 364-6121.

On the mend

Ginny Seyferth, the queen bee of the Seyferth & Associates PR firm in Grand Rapids, has been at home nursing injuries she suffered in a fall at the annual Grand Valley University Foundation Enrichment Dinner at DeVos Place on June 2. Seyferth, who is a member of the Campaign Committee for GVSU’s $50 million Shaping Our Future fundraising campaign, reportedly tumbled onto the hard floor face-first. Working from home last week, Seyferth declined to comment to Street Talk, saying through an assistant that she appreciates the support and well-wishes, is glad her slip happened among friends and she is “back in the saddle.” 

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