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Change Ups: Sultan snags LaughFest’s Best of Midwest title

April 6, 2018
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Ali Sultan

Comedian Ali Sultan’s funny side recently won him the Best of the Midwest Competition, taking home the title 2018 Gilda’s LaughFest Best of the Midwest Comedian and a $2,500 cash prize. The team at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids created Gilda’s LaughFest in 2011, and is intended to celebrate laughter for the health of it and raise visibility and funds for Gilda’s Club mission. LaughFest features free and ticketed events, including stand-up, improv, film, showcases and a variety of funny stuff.

ACCOUNTING

KPMG LLP announced Betsy Meter was named office managing partner for the Detroit and Grand Rapids offices. 

ADVERTISING & MARKETING

Rick Devon, president of the Grey Matter Group, is the recipient of the 2018 American Advertising Federation West Michigan Chapter Silver Medal Award in recognition of the men and women who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry's standards, creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern.

AGRIBUSINESS

Michigan Milk Producers Association in Novi and Baraboo, Wisconsin-based Foremost Farms USA announced the two cooperatives have signed a memorandum of understanding that includes, but is not limited to, pursuing proposed co-investment opportunities with the Middlebury Cheese Company and the recently announced dairy campus in Greenville.

ARTS

The West Michigan Youth Ballet received a $1,000 donation from SpartanNash’s Through the Direct Your Dollars program.

AWARDS

The city of Grand Rapids received the Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission in recognition of its Driving Change bicycle safety education campaign.

Grand Rapids Community College's Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion announced the following recipients of the 2018 Salute to Women Awards: Karen Walker, Shannon Gamel, Peggy Gorno and Morgan Brown.

Grand Rapids Ophthalmology’s Gregory Patera, O.D., was awarded the Dr. Mark Sheldon Lifetime Achievement Award at the 13th annual Grand Rapids Lions Club Blind Dinner Date.

Harvey Lexus of Grand Rapids was awarded Elite of Lexus status for 2017.

BANKING

Fifth Third Private Bank promoted Arian Nelson to a wealth management adviser specialist and Meghan Harsevoort to a wealth management adviser.

Independent Bank Corporation hired Joane E. VanLuven as senior vice president – human resources.

BUSINESS SERVICES

Van Dyken Mechanical Inc. in Grandville welcomed account representative Marlin Brower, whose main focus will be on commercial and industrial sales.

X-Rite Inc. and Pantone LLC announced the appointment of Ondrej Kruk as president.

CONSTRUCTION

Elzinga & Volkers in Holland is the recipient of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. National Safety Excellence Award.

Miller-Davis Co. in Kalamazoo hired John Stewart as a project superintendent and Eric Hicks as a project engineer.

EDUCATION

Grand Rapids Community College trustees unanimously approved a 0.88 percent tuition increase for the 2018-19 academic year, the lowest increase in nearly two decades. The in-district tuition rate of $114 per credit hour is a 0.88 percent increase from the 2017-18 rate, and the smallest increase since the 0.9 percent uptick in the 1999-2000 academic year. Including universal fees, the total cost for a full-time student will be $3,879 for the year.

Vice President for Enrollment Development Lynn “Chick” McNamara Blue announced she will retire at the end of the year from Grand Valley State University. Blue was initially hired as a typist in 1968. She will break the record for the longest-serving employee when she passes the 50-year mark in September. 

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Midwest Capital Advisor’s Mark Satkoski recently was awarded the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Certification, and Jack Nicklaus Tunge joined the Kent District Library Development Board.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Alliance Beverage delivered 35,500 cases and kegs to retailers across West Michigan for Oberon Day on March 26.

Gray Skies Distillery released Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey, its first straight bourbon whiskey. It’s available for purchase exclusively in their downtown Grand Rapids tasting room. Subsequent releases beginning fall 2018 will be available through licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan via statewide distribution.

Great Legs Winery, Brewery & Distillery celebrated its first year serving the Holland area with their wines, beers and Grappa. New beer release for the celebration included a Bourbon Barrel Oatmeal Stout.

Long Road Distillers was recognized as one of the 2018 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch by the Michigan Celebrates Small Business. The distillery will be honored at an awards ceremony during the 14th annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business Gala in Lansing on May 3.

GOVERNMENT

Lisa Krieter was appointed to Cascade Charter Township’s planning commission.

GRANTS

Ferris State University in Big Rapids announced the Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded a $150,000 three-year grant to the university’s Latino Business and Economic Development Center, to be used for programming that addresses workforce development, economic disparity, civic engagement and overall leadership development in Grand Rapids’ Latino community.

HEALTH

Northern Physical Therapy opened its ninth West Michigan clinic at 6173 Lake Michigan Drive in Allendale.

LEGAL

Hilger Hammond PC announced Suzanne Sutherland was appointed to the Academy of Design and Construction Advisory Council, which exposes students to real world landmark structures, sites and designs.

Marisa Griggs joined Rhoades McKee as an associate with the human resource and employment law team.

Plachta, Murphy & Associates promoted attorney Bryan D. Reeder to managing partner.

Plunkett Cooney announced Timothy F. Sheridan, the managing partner of the firm’s Grand Rapids office, was elected for the first time to serve as a member of the firm’s board of directors.

MANUFACTURING

Lansing-based Eckhart Inc. announced that it has acquired Logic Plus, an electrical controls and automation company based in Reed City.

Herman Miller in Holland expanded on its Live OS, a system of cloud-connected furnishings, app, and dashboard, to include the iconic Aeron Chair, creating a new suite of responsive furnishings and tools that offer a more intuitive and active experience of work.

Ranir is the Association for Corporate Growth of Western Michigan’s 2018 Outstanding Growth Award recipient for demonstrating sustained growth in sales, profitability, employment and community involvement.

PUBLISHING

Allegra Marketing Print Mail recently launched a new online ordering website, giving 24/7 access to a range of popular print materials. Details: allegragr.com.

REAL ESTATE

GSF Mortgage Corp. announced the addition of mortgage loan originator Terri Wickstrom. She is based in Norton Shores and is licensed in Michigan and Florida.

SERVICES

Pogoda Companies in Farmington Hills announced the addition of two properties to its management portfolio: National Storage Centers-Cedar Springs, 12505 Northland Drive, and National Storage Centers, 505 10 Mile Road NW, Sparta.

TECHNOLOGY

OST announced the additions of Taylor Cargill, application development, and Joel McClure, design.

Kalamazoo-based Stryker announced the launch of its new reusable suture passing technology for use in rotator cuff repair, Cobra. This first-of-its-kind technology leverages novel needle manufacturing and an innovative jaw design to produce the first reusable needle technology.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Woman-owned small business Symplicity Communications was recognized as one of the 2018 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch by Michigan Celebrates Small Business’ awards ceremony May 3 in Lansing.

TRANSPORTATION

Muskegon County Airport announced the SkyWest Airlines customer service team at MKG was recently recognized as a top performing United Airlines Tier 4 station in 2017.

WEBSITES

The Muskegon-based Great Lakes Surf Festival launched its website, greatlakessurffestival.com.

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