Stirring Developments

March 6, 2006
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Cross your fingers. The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments last week in DaimlerChrysler vs. Cuno, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case that has been described as nothing less than the apocalypse of economic development.

Remember? That’s the one that could eliminate all state tax-based incentive programs, from Renaissance Zones to brownfield abatements. The Right Place Inc. President Birgit Klohs called it “the biggest thing happening in economic development.” She’d know.

  • Whether you’re a mild-mannered CFO or a low-paid desk jockey, it’s time to check those software licenses. The Business Software Alliance is offering a bounty of up to $200,000 on qualified software piracy leads until April 15.

That is four times the stool pigeon fee of Washington, D.C.’s, original Rewards Program, which has attracted more than 1,000 leads in the last six months.

Fines are up to $150,000 per infringement. That’s a frightening number. And it’s even more frightening, considering the incentive to turn an employer in is that plus 35 percent.

  • Ann Coulter had to cancel her commitment to the Kent County Republican Committee’s Annual Lincoln Day Dinner due to a major scheduling conflict on her part. There’s no truth to the rumor that the cancellation came shortly after getting a quail-hunting invite from Vice President Dick Cheney.

  • Wow. At this point, it’s hard not to feel for the Joes Moch behind the Icon On Bond condominium development. Just when it looked like the building was about to start rising, the whole lot becomes a man-made lake. Check out the picture on page 6.

  • Grubb & Ellis/Paramount put out a press release last week announcing that Grand Rapids Development Corp. is currently exploring the opportunity to bring a major mixed used infrastructure project to the city of Grand Rapids. A person known by the name of Deborah Shurlow is listed as the contact.

Cue the “Time Warp” theme. Swing it back about 15 days.

Anyway, it is a good thing Grubb & Ellis finally sent out a statement to the media. Now MiBizWest can get its story out.

  • Speaking of timing, Wednesday’s Business Journal Most Influential Women luncheon at Noto’s might make for some interesting discussion.

Local television leaders Janet Mason (Channel 13) and Diane Kniowski (Channel 8) are both being honored for their strong community leadership and willingness to help women ascend to important positions within their industry.

On Tuesday, however, it was Mason’s crew who literally caught jail escapee Otis Nelson on tape as he fled a residence on Ball Avenue NE and was apprehended by Grand Rapids police.

Timing and location are everything in today’s news-gathering business.

  • Best Project X rumors of the week: Interscope Records, Yahoo! and Alticor pet company Interleukin. But, really, is high-rise residential and retail all that bad?

  • Following his community’s initial adoption of an ordinance to regulate adult entertainment nearly identical to the one currently on tap for the city of Grand Rapids, columnist David Hawpe about the struggle in the Louisville Courier Journal:

“All of this is intended to revitalize the downtown, not just by bringing families back to Fourth Street but by giving the city’s entertainment-hungry visitors what they want, including alcoholic beverages and promising pickup spots. The morality of the bar scene isn’t seen as an issue. It’s a welcome part of economic development …

“Out in Arizona, where they understand the convention and visitors economy, a coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats in the legislature is moving in the opposite direction — pushing back the liquor cutoff from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. Closing time would be moved back by an hour and fifteen minutes.

“All of which is expected to pump another $55 million into the economy, generate $3 million in new sales tax revenue and jump-start Phoenix’s emerging convention business.

“Here in Louisville, we’re going to tell conventioneers, as well as the locals who frequent these strip clubs, that we don’t want their money. And that’s saying a lot.

“Déjá Vu alone has an average payroll of 30 to 35 people, making $559,000 in wages per year. At last report, payments to the club’s 27 vendors raised its annual economic impact in Louisville to $742,000. Spokesmen for all the local strip clubs say they account for a total of 1,200 jobs and have a $50 million impact on the economy, assuming a reasonable multiplier effect.

“PT’s alone had 100,000 patrons come through its doors last year, and during the farm machinery show, the club’s business triples …

“When it comes to ‘negative secondary effects,’ which the new ordinance is supposed to address, the council apparently is aiming at the wrong target. It’s easier to give the city’s nicer visitors what they want. Meanwhile, the guys from the farm machinery show can have hind teat.”

Does any of this apply to Grand Rapids’ burgeoning convention business? You be the judge.

  • Walt McVeigh is one busy man. McVeigh, who portrays Santa Claus during the Christmas season, is trading in his red for green when he takes on the persona of “Brian: King of the Leprechauns” for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and events.

The Ancient Order of Hiberians has changed the parade route, which will proceed south on North Division Avenue from Michigan, turning east on Fulton Street and ending near the parking lot of Park Congregational Church.

The ending spot is just across the street from the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and the Grand Rapids Public Library, both of which will be involved in the festivities.

This year’s grand marshal is Marty Allen, who oversees all things Gerald R. Ford-related (excect the airport, of course), and Judge Kathleen Feeney is serving as this year’s Spirit of Ireland.

Maybe McVeigh can lend Allen his famous Irish suspenders just for the parade.    

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