Herding the Pack

November 20, 2007
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The Michigan Homeland Security Consortium has partnered with Battle Creek Unlimited, a business development and funding group, to manage and source the Michigan Homeland Security Resource Fund.

The fund, created by MIHSC and conceived of by the consortium's chairman, Keith Brophy, will support Michigan state-based businesses and entrepreneurs through venture funding and non-monetary resources. Brophy created the consortium in 2006 with Tom Hines, president of SecureMatrix, a Grand Rapids security technology company.

BC Ventures, which is the technology business accelerator group within Battle Creek Unlimited, will attempt to identify and attract up to $10 million in funding to invest in security and defense businesses.

The MIHSC board of directors selected Battle Creek Unlimited as the fund manager, based on its expertise in accelerating businesses in aviation and homeland security. By focusing on the areas of security and defense businesses, Battle Creek Unlimited aims to create hundreds of new jobs and many businesses that complement Michigan's growing homeland security industry.

"Michigan has a rich base of homeland security-oriented organizations, but we need to fuel more growth in order to compete globally," said Jack Miner, who joined BC Ventures as managing director in March.

For the resource fund, BC Ventures will attract private investment and identify federal, state and local funding sources. BC Ventures also assists businesses with mentoring, planning and grant writing through the Small Business Administration.

"With this partnership, we look forward to boosting our homeland security industry. Our group has worked hard to make a difference in Michigan, and this is a milestone for helping businesses that are dedicated to staying in our state," said Brophy, who also is president of Troy-based NuSoft Solutions, a software company with an office in Grand Rapids.

**The Expanded Learning Opportunities Network, a collaborative working to promote after-school programs for youth, honored two area advocates for children and families last week. Outgoing Grand Rapids City Commissioner Roy Schmidt and Fifth Third Bank VP Cheryl Meyer were saluted for doing their part to advance quality after-school programs in the greater Grand Rapids area. Schmidt was cited for organizing youth programs, being a fundraiser and “being at every after-school event to lend his support,” according to Lynn Heemstra, co-chair of ELO’s executive committee.

Meyer received the Business Leader for After-School Award for her support of the network since its inception in 2001. “She has brought the business perspective and resources to the table and been a true advocate on after-school with our state legislators and community leaders,” Heemstra said.

The ELO also announced receipt of a Ready by 21 Quality Count Grant of $100,000 over three years, with an additional $150,000 in technical assistance.

The gathering to announce the awards and grant also included the release of the Grand Rapids Juvenile Offense Index, which shows that the highest rate of juvenile offenses occur from 2-6 p.m. — the prime time for after-school programming.

**Wall Street a decade ago saw the pending tide of wealth changing hands. Jim Preston, former Business Journal investment columnist, penned the investment community’s eager anticipation years ago. A new report last week confirmed the continuing impact of philanthropic works. Research commissioned by community foundations underscores the unprecedented transfer of wealth from the World War II generation to the baby boomers, and then from the baby boomers to the next generation. $972 billion is projected to change hands within the next 50 years in Michigan, much of the transfer occurring from 2030 to 2035.

“Imagine billions of dollars available for important community projects in Michigan, cumulative grants of $1.8 billion by 2017, and $102 billion over the next 50 years,” said Donnell Mersereau, director of community foundations for the Council of Michigan Foundations, based in Grand Haven.

For some reason, it’s not that difficult to imagine big numbers when it comes to philanthropic efforts in West Michigan. What else is new?

One more example … and more cause to celebrate with an abundance of noise and flash in Grand Haven: JSJ Corp. will sponsor the Fireworks Spectacular for the 2008 Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival. Grand Haven Coast Guard officials, with employees representing JSJ Corp.’s West Michigan-based businesses — Dake, GHSP, izzydesign and Sparks Belting — formally announced the sponsorship Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day.

“At the same time we are making this announcement about fireworks, we want people to know that this sponsorship is above and beyond the funds JSJ has set aside to support other community programs,” said Erick Johnson, JSJ Corp. board member and director of business development. “We plan to continue our current level of giving to the arts, human services and educational initiatives to people in communities throughout the JSJ business footprint.”

**Officials in the Holland area are attempting to depend on more than the good graces of corporate supporters as they push forward a plan to expand and operate the Tulip City Airport. Voters in four municipalities are likely to have an airport millage on the ballot in May in order to raise a projected $384,000 in its first year to fund, in part, the building of more public hangers, another runway and a new multi-million-dollar terminal. Leases and contributions also will be looked at to fund portions of the improvements, should the project move forward.

Randy Thelen, president of the Lakeshore Advantage economic development organization, is becoming known for his adept use of statistics to support economic initiatives. Another stunner came recently when he said that only 20 percent of the nation’s airports have more flight activity than the Holland airport currently maintains. He stressed the importance of the airport’s expansion and continued corporate use to the vitality of the lakeshore economy, while acknowledging that passenger service should and will, for the most part, likely remain in the realm of other regional facilities.

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