Freys CAA Tenure Nears End

December 8, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — One of the leading private-sector forces behind the building of Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place will likely be leaving the Convention and Arena Authority at the end of February.

The term for board member David Frey expires on Feb. 29 and it’s not expected that the co-chairman of the Grand Action Committee will be reappointed to the CAA. Frey was the first member named to the board by then-Gov. John Engler in 2000 and has served as the state’s sole representative to the seven-member CAA.

But being a Republican, it’s highly doubtful that current Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, will reappoint the retired banker for another four-year term. Gary McInerney, a local attorney, is rumored to be the governor’s choice.

Frey is also CAA vice-chairman and chairs the board’s Building Committee. Chances are good that he will continue as that committee’s chairman after he leaves the board. Members chose Clifton Charles to replace Frey as vice chairman last week.

Last week’s opening for the exhibit space in DeVos Place, the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo, was estimated to be worth about $3 million to the local economy.

On top of that, the CAA got a cash bonus last week when members learned that the $100,000 they had budgeted for overtime pay, as part of the $275,000 fee they approved last year to get the exhibition space ready in time for the woodworkers, wasn’t needed.

“We’re probably more elated than the woodworkers to get everything ready,” said Joe Erhardt, president of Erhardt Construction, which is co-managing the $212 million project with the Hunt Group of Indianapolis.

Erhardt reported that of the $169 million spent on construction so far, 73 percent, or $123 million, of that total has been spent locally. He also reported that a million man-hours have gone into the project and that 17.3 percent of the construction budget has gone to firms owned by minorities and women.

As the woodworkers leave the convention center today, Dec. 8, exhibitors for the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market tradeshow will start moving in. But their move-in won’t be nearly as large as the woodworking expo was, as 1,000 semi-trailers were needed to deliver the goods the 650 exhibitors displayed at last week’s two-day event.

“The building has been thought out and thought out and thought out,” said Keith Eidson of TSI Expos, the North Carolina firm that brought the woodworkers to DeVos Place.

“Everyone has made our stay easy,” he added.

Besides the expo, a roundtable forum on the future of furniture making was held and was moderated by Steelcase Inc. CEO James Hackett. Scarlett Machinery President Jim Scarlett was given the 2003 Midwest Expo Woodworkers Helping Others award for his dedication to local charities.

“This is the home of the woodworking industry in the U.S.,” said Eidson. “We like to think we are partners with you. We have dates through 2011 and that’s only because that’s when the books run out.”

DeVos Place has activity for all but two days this month. The convention center has events, move-ins and move-outs scheduled on 20 days, while DeVos Performance Hall is hosting 27 shows in December. The business community got its look at the new building last Wednesday. The general public will get to take a peek on Dec. 20.

“There is a lot going on at DeVos Place,” said Rich MacKeigan, SMG general manager. “The best thing that we did with this opening was open with Keith and his gang.” 

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