Street Talk

Street Talk: Follow the money

Hungry like a Wolf.

October 30, 2015
Text Size:

Just for fun (and because the Business Journal always follows the money), let’s ask an economist his views on last week’s GOP presidential debate.

Robert Genetski, you’re up:

“What Republican voters are looking for is a person who is best able to articulate the rationale behind pro-growth economic principles. With their silly liberal talking points, the moderators tried to steer the debate in another direction. The candidates out-maneuvered them. When it was over, the moderators were the ones that looked silly.”

Genetski, a Saugatuck-based economist, said that in spite of the moderators’ best efforts to “avoid serious policy issues,” Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were all able to provide a persuasive case for cutting taxes and limiting the role of government.

He also called Chris Christie “bold and articulate.”

“He’s outstanding at making his points. His weakness is an emphasis on sacrifice and cutting Social Security payments to seniors instead of explaining the power and rationale behind pro-growth policies.”

Genetski said other candidates, including Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Carly Fiorina, didn’t score so well in his eyes.

“Those who were least impressive in explaining how to ignite growth were Bush, Kasich and Fiorina. Bush has a good program, but (he) is completely ineffective in selling it. Bush, Kasich and Fiorina continue to try and sell people on their past accomplishments rather than explaining how their ideas will revive the economy.”

So what about Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul? Genetski said both have impressive credentials for advancing growth. “However, neither had the breakthrough they seem to need to advance their cause.”

Calling all candidates

All political candidates have to start somewhere. In Muskegon, that starting point might be right around the corner.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is hosting an informational workshop for people who are interested in running for public office. The workshop is scheduled for 4-5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the chamber’s training center, 380 W. Western Ave., Suite 202.

“The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce encourages citizens who are concerned about the progress of our community to become involved,” said Cindy Larsen, chamber president.

That includes anyone interested in school board, village, township, city, county and state-level positions.

The non-partisan workshop will provide an overview of campaign rules, marketing, fundraising, policymaking review and understanding local issues.

“This in an exciting time for Muskegon,” said Wes Eklund, president of Fleet Engineers and chair of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. “Participation in the political arena from all citizens in the community is essential for dynamic and innovative growth and development.”

Cost is $15 and registration is required by calling (231) 722-3751 or visiting

Three things

Here are three takeaways from the Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty celebration for young business leaders Tuesday night at the Civic Theatre.

First, the audio/visuals produced by local firm Gorilla were outstanding. The opening segment compressed what seemed like an entire West Michigan summer into about two minutes, complete with a beautiful female voiceover and accompanying music.

“It gave me goose bumps,” said Mary Ann Sabo, founder of Sabo Public Relations.

Seriously, Doug Small, you ought to give the Gorilla guys a call.

Second, the food from Distinctive Catering by Brann’s was so phenomenal, it was a shame any leftovers had to go to waste. Except they didn’t.

Tom Doyle had his crew bring what remained after the party to Veterans Park, and for the second year in a row, they carved up prime rib for the homeless, along with a pretty good selection of fruit, veggies and all sorts of munchies.

Third, the excitement of this year’s 40 Under Forty class was contagious. Overheard during a conversation between GRCC’s Leah Nixon and Jenelle Marie Davis, creator of the website The STD Project, who were comparing notes on receiving the Journal’s letter informing them of inclusion in the class of 2015: “I think I peed my pants,” said Davis, as both women dissolved into gales of laughter.

Brownfield leverage

Although brownfield sites often are considered functionally obsolete and riddled with contaminants, counties, local communities and developers in West Michigan are undertaking the challenge of revitalizing the long-vacant properties.

The Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was awarded $400,000 in grant funding back in 2013 through the EPA’s brownfield program to help reimburse developers for remediation costs. Nearly two years later, the OCBRA has distributed about $360,000 to redevelop 29 sites.

“We were putting together a report to show what the results have been of using this money, and I think the numbers are pretty startling,” said David Miller, board chair of the OCBRA. “For just under $400,000 invested, we have generated about $43 million and created more than 380 jobs.”

Miller said the ability to distribute the funds to help developers “characterize” sites gives them “the confidence to go forward with the development at the site.”

“I think this is just a tremendous way to leverage a little amount of money to redevelop some of these vacant sites,” said Miller. “This program takes buildings that have been sitting vacant for a long time — because people don’t know what the conditions were at the site — and it puts them back into productive use.”

The Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority also has used federal and state resources to incentivize revitalizing difficult property sites. Since 2008, it has been awarded more than $1.1 million to fund environmental assessments on more than 60 properties in the city.

At the state-level, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. provides incentives through the Michigan Strategic Fund under the Brownfield Tax Increment Financing Program and the Michigan Community Revitalization Program.

In 2015, the Grand Rapids BRA has approved eight projects.

It recently received approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund to use a $2.1 million local and school tax capture to alleviate the cost of improving brownfield conditions at the future location of New Holland Brewery on Bridge Street NW. The developers, Bridge and Turner LLC, also received support from the MCRP to help offset the costs of environmental and non-environmental activities.

The Puck stops here

Grand Rapids residents can sit down to dinner with Wolfgang Puck on Thursday.

The celebrity chef will host a dinner at 6 p.m. at his new restaurant, The Kitchen, located inside the Amway Grand Plaza.

A limited number of VIP and general admission tickets are available. Tickets are $75, or $150 for VIP tickets; they can be purchased by calling Barb Grypma at (616) 776-6483.

Twenty-five dollars from each ticket will be donated to the Heart of West Michigan United Way.

In addition to dinner, VIP ticketholders are invited to attend a meet-and-greet at 5:15 p.m. outside the restaurant. They also will receive an autographed Wolfgang Puck cookbook and have the opportunity to have a photo taken with the famed chef.

The Amway is promising an evening of “extraordinary food enjoyed with extraordinary company.”

Recent Articles by Business Journal Staff

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus