That first anchor Its a moving target

February 20, 2012
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Scott Wierda of CWD Real Estate Investment could talk about Cabela’s last week, and he could mention the “first anchor” store now under construction at the same retail development site in Grandville. That “first anchor” will open in October.

But Wierda did not — and said he could not — provide the name of the first anchor.

“We actually have not officially announced who our anchor is,” he explained. A few minutes later, he added that the official announcement will be left up to that company, as a courtesy to that company.

That’s how developers are when sealing deals with tenants: Hush hush, until the tenant’s inner circle knows first.

The “first anchor” is Target, of course. Everybody in Grandville City Hall knows that, and apparently so do people at the construction site.

Wierda did allow that this is “probably the worst kept secret” in town.

Coming and going

Last year was a banner business year for the city’s hotels because so many people came here and brought their wallets with them. Experience Grand Rapids reported that hotels had double-digit growth in revenues: Room revenue rose to $114.4 million in 2011 for an 11 percent hike. In addition, hotel occupancy went up by 7 percent.

“For the second consecutive year, Kent County reported double-digit growth in hotel revenue and outpaced national and state growth averages in occupancy,” said Doug Small, Experience GR president.

“This is also the third year in a row that our staff has booked more than 125,000 future convention, sports and group-tour room nights throughout Kent County.”

Small added that cultural events like ArtPrize, LaughFest and exhibits at places such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum helped to lure folks here and made 2011 a check-in year.

While more people were coming here last year, more local business types are expected to travel out of town this year. Mike Malaney, president of the Grand Rapids office of Travel Leaders, said a company survey showed more local executives will travel in 2012 than last year.

“Overall, we expect our West Michigan-based business travel will increase by 15 percent over last year. We also expect that local businesses will keep their purse strings consistent with 2011 levels,” he said. “Locally, we’re finding that we’re booking about the same number of first/business class airline tickets over 2011. This is a key indicator of the relative optimism of Grand Rapids businesses and their economic outlook for the coming year.”

Air-Tite adds Docter’s

Air-Tite Insulation of Byron Center recently acquired Docter’s Insulation of Hudsonville. Both companies service the residential, commercial and industrial markets, and the acquisition is expected to increase the combined company’s sales revenue to $2 million and its staff to more than 20.

“The combined company will offer unparalleled value and experience to our growing clientele,” said Andrew Emmitt, owner and founder of Air-Tite. John Docter started Docter’s Insulation 28 years ago and will remain with Air-Tite as a senior consultant.

“With John’s industry-leading experience, Air-Tite will continue to be the dominant West Michigan-based supplier of insulation solutions for residential, commercial and industry applications,” added Emmitt, who started Air-Tite in 2005.

Because the firm services the residential market, Air-Tite has at least one Docter who makes house calls.

Finally, a non-LEED green

As Kermit the Frog once famously said, “It’s not easy being green.” While that may be true, Barfly Ventures is giving everyone a month to come to grips with that.

The company, headed by Mark and Michele Sellers, has put tickets on sale for its second annual daylong celebration of being green called the Irish on Ionia St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This year’s event takes place on, when else, March 17 and will happen on Ionia Avenue SE between Weston and Oakes streets from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. The fest will feature Celtic bands, Celtic dancers, DJs, bagpipers, beer tents and an Irish-inspired food pavilion.

“We have an incredible day planned with live music, contests, and of course, many kegs of green beer. Everyone should be here because everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Mark Sellers, who owns HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s Irish Saloon, The Viceroy and GR Brewing Co. with Michele.

The day begins at McFadden’s with its Kegs & Eggs Irish breakfast starting at 7 a.m. All access tickets are $10 and limited VIP passes are $20 and available at ticketweb.com and at McFadden’s, HopCat, Stella’s Lounge and The Viceroy. On the 17th, tickets are $15.

For more information, go to facebook.com/IrishonIonia.

“Irish on Ionia will be the place to be on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Sellers. “There will be lots of green beer flowing, plenty of authentic Irish drafts and locally made, Irish-inspired craft beers, as well as some great food served with an Irish twist.”

Break time

This little tidbit comes from our friends at P3HR in Grand Rapids, who included it in their electronic newsletter. Who knew?

Coffee and donuts are somewhat common workplace perks. But for small business owners, those daily indulgences can add up to a significant tax deduction.

American workers spend an average of about $1,000 a year on coffee, a new survey finds, according to Reuters. But if you're picking up the tab to keep your workers content, your coffee costs could be much higher.

This may just be the caffeine talking, but three overarching questions come to mind when considering small business tax deductions for coffee and donuts:

First, is it a business expense?

Small business owners are generally entitled to deduct the costs of refreshments and similar fringe benefits for their employees, one tax attorney advised in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“To qualify, the expenses must be small and furnished by the employer merely as a means of promoting the health, goodwill, contentment or efficiency” of workers, the tax lawyer wrote.

The key test: Are your coffee and donut expenses “ordinary and necessary” for carrying on your business? Lots of legal challenges hinge on this question, so it may be best to consult a local tax attorney before trying to come up with your own justification.

Second, is it fully deductible?

Many small business expenses are subject to a 50 percent deduction limitation, but the tax code provides exceptions that may cover coffee and donuts, one tax accountant explained for Inside Tucson Business.

In general, small businesses can deduct 100 percent of the following costs:

Providing an office coffee bar: Employer-provided coffee, donuts, snacks, and soft drinks that are consumed at work are generally fully deductible.

Refreshments at employee functions: Coffee and donuts offered at work-related parties and meetings for the benefit of employees can be fully deductible.

Refreshments provided to the public: This can include coffee and donuts offered to customers in your lobby.

Lastly, are receipts sufficient to prove business expenses?

Receipts are required, but they may not suffice to establish a valid business purpose, the Tucson tax accountant warns. Again, check with a tax attorney to see what else you may need to deduct coffee and donuts from your small business taxes.

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