Best Practices Are Marked, Rewarded

May 1, 2006
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Don’t we love it when a plan comes together. Early last week USA Today reported “Michigan pulling itself out of slump,” largely concentrating on Grand Rapids’ regional growth and projects, most notably the new art museum and “the first JW Marriott in the Midwest.” But the overview is dated for the news of the past week and continued development being planned.

The report in “the nation’s newspaper” cites census-reported population gains in Kent County among others, “robust growth” in West Michigan, and the area’s reliance on an intellectual base rather than “traditional” manufacturing jobs.

The ability of the Interurban Transit Authority to move forward with long-range planning and federal funding for public transportation cleared a hurdle via an amendment to the state Public Transportation Authority Act. ITP Executive Director Peter Varga expects to have information from a year-long study on routes and transit modes ready for public discussion in September. At issue is rapid transit service to and from suburban locations into the downtown. While the ease of travel for professionals in and out of the airport and suburbs is a boost, the city’s ability to attract nine vendors for a Grand Rapids wireless broadband Internet initiative is its own landmark. Just as manufacturing reinvents itself more as brain power than brawn, history this week is marked by the provision of the Internet service that is more than a string of new power lines.

As company owners and CEOs are better able to recruit the necessary work force with the advancements of such services and continued lifestyle choices, the Business Journal also notes that 92 local companies are being honored this week for best practices in human resources. The Michigan Business and Professional Association assesses companies nominated through several sources, conducts surveys among a company’s randomly selected employees, and scores company evaluations and surveys to determine winners. MBPA indicated more than 500 nominations had been received this year.

Those practices are basic for continued recruitment to this area, but are seldom as heralded as the community focus on the buildings marking growth and expansion. Those “quality of life” issues are just as vital in attracting entrepreneurs and national and international businesses new to this area.

Each component of news in the past week provided building blocks, momentum not previously seen, and certainly opportunity as yet unimagined in this community.    

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