Street Talk

Without integrity you have nothing to share

September 24, 2012
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When Business Journal Editor Carole Valade accepted the 2012 Athena Award last week, she gave as much as she got.

Those who know Carole know that verbal sparring is her weapon of choice, often reducing some of the area’s movers and shakers into head-shaking, shoulder-shrugging mumblers. So Tuesday’s ceremony at the JW Marriott was a rare chance for Carole to shed the sparring and speak from her heart on topics that are important to her (and not someone else!).

If you missed the speech, it was inspiring on many levels.

Here are a few of Carole’s words of wisdom that bear repeating:

“Without joy we do not participate. To have joy is to know who you are, because there is no joy unless you know what it is that makes you happy, and are sure of your unique talent.” That was the most tweeted quote by the GVSU Alumni Association.

“If East and West Michigan are unifying the voice of business across the state, then women business owners must be at the table.” This one drew the most applause from the audience.

And finally, the one that rings true in our newsroom every day: “Without integrity, you have nothing to share and nothing to sell.”

Well said, Carole!

Go Blues!

The Michigan Business and Professional Association and its sister organization, the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, last week applauded Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to modernize health insurance regulations in Michigan as hearings began in the Legislature. MBPA said transitioning Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to a nonprofit mutual insurance company owned by its policyholders will strengthen Michigan’s position in a modern health care market.

“This type of action has been needed for a long time and we feel it will benefit Michigan’s business community,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and CEO of both organizations.

“It streamlines and simplifies regulations, which will reduce costs for employers and help to create jobs. Michigan businesses look forward to working with Gov. Snyder and policymakers in our effort to modernize Michigan’s outdated health insurance market and level the playing field so everyone plays by the same rules."

Among other provisions, Snyder’s proposal will allow Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to transition its corporate structure to a nonprofit mutual insurance company, which would be regulated under the Michigan Insurance Code like all other health insurers in the state and reduce the role of state government in health care. In addition, the governor’s plan requires BCBSM to contribute about $1.5 billion over 18 years to a new nonprofit entity whose purpose is to fund initiatives that foster healthier lifestyles, provide better access to health care and improve public health.

The governor’s plan now has to go forward for approval by the Michigan Legislature and be supported by the BCBSM board.

“We encourage our Legislature and the Blue Cross directors to seriously consider and support this proposal. We see it as an important move on Michigan’s strong path to resurgence and economic strength,” Kluge said.


Having a say

Love it or hate it, ArtPrize is here. And so are the snarky comments about “what is art” and, more often, about what is not.

But if you want to weigh in on this year’s celebration with your online friends, check out lovehateartprize.com, where hopefully some “educated” discussion is taking place.

Bill Fischer, a professor at Kendall College of Art and Design, felt compelled to create the online forum because, well, the ArtPrize organization didn’t.

“This is a place where people can participate in a dialogue on the larger question posed by the event,” Fischer said.

The site is not connected to, affiliated with or sponsored by ArtPrize, so honesty is the order of the day. Fischer encourages anyone interested in “voicing their opinion about the event, the art, the organization and the question, ‘who gets to decide what is good art?’ to check in.

Lofty goal

Longtime development company Rockford Construction announced last week it is undertaking another project. The firm is investing $17 million into the former Baker Furniture building at 40 Logan St. SW to create Baker Lofts, an 87-unit residential complex.

The building is between Division and Ionia avenues and just two blocks south of the Downtown Market going up on Ionia.

Baker Furniture was founded in 1903 as Cook, Baker & Co. The high-end furniture maker announced in 2006 that it was leaving Grand Rapids for North Carolina. Rockford is also renovating its new west-side headquarters at First Street and Seward Avenue NW.

First of firsts

Thursday will mark a first in Kent County, and if it’s successful, another first may come. A fundraiser will be conducted Thursday by the Agricultural Preserve Boards of Michigan at the Riverfront Hotel from 5:30-8 p.m. Organizers of the event hope to raise $32,000 to preserve Goodfellow Orchards in Sparta Township for apple and cherry production via the county’s Purchase of Development Rights ordinance.

The fundraiser is needed because the county’s Agricultural Preservation Board doesn’t have enough funds to get the orchards through the process this year.

“We modeled this event after a similar program operated by the Lancaster County, Pa., Land Trust. They are able to preserve at least one farm each year using this type of model, and we hope this will be successful here in Kent County,” said Dennis Hefron, a local farmer, vice chairman of the county’s APB and president of the APBM.

The Riverfront is at 270 Ann St. NE. The event will offer appetizers, a cash bar and door prizes, along with a silent auction. The goal is to raise $1,000 per acre for the 32-acre orchard. Contributions can also be mailed to Hefron at 7724 Ashley Ave., Belding, 48809. All donations are tax deductible.

If everything goes as planned, it’s believed Goodfellow Orchards would be the first orchard to gain preservation status, as the others have been non-fruit farms.

Veterans salute

A group of employees at six Cascade Engineering plants were saluted last week by the County’s Finance Committee. Led by the company’s senior purchasing manager, Tim Thomas, the workers raised $16,320 for the county’s Veterans Affairs Department. That money will go toward covering any emergency a vet or a surviving spouse may have.

“We want to voice our appreciation to the employees of Cascade Engineering,” said Commissioner Harold Voorhees, who chairs the committee.

The full board of commissioners is expected to send an official note of thanks to the employees.

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