Legacy Of Winners Continues

January 7, 2008
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They are leaders of what is a tremendously impressive pack. The 10 finalists for this year’s Grand Rapids Business Journal’s Newsmaker of the Year Award are those that survived the cut — emanating from an often contentious debate among Business Journal staff members and others who have tracked the progress of these headline grabbers for the past several months.

Inside today’s Focus section are profiles of this year’s 10 finalists. Once again they represent a substantial cross-section of the community, from medical to manufacturing to real estate to technology. Their efforts are noteworthy and should be saluted in that they are all likely to have significant long-term economic impact on West Michigan. They are at various stages of development, with all holding promise of the significant achievement that their originators had in mind.

This year’s Newsmaker will be announced at a special luncheon of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids on Jan. 14. Those who are called to the podium to accept the honor will know they are joining an accomplished list of Top Newsmakers who have been so recognized since the award’s inception in 1992.

Those honored previously are:

1992: Rich DeVos: The DeVos name can be seen on many of the area’s public buildings to which he provided significant funds, seeding the beginning of the downtown renaissance. The firm he founded with lifelong friend Jay Van Andel, Amway Corp. (now Alticor), remains one of the world’s major players in the direct-selling business.

1993: Jerry Meyers. Recognizing the work of another top industry figure and former Steelcase CEO.

1994: Lew Chamberlin and Denny Baxter for the successful launch of minor league baseball in Grand Rapids — the West Michigan Whitecaps.

1995:  John Canepa, Dick DeVos and David Frey, known collectively as Grand Action Committee, who helped bring the Van Andel Arena and, later, many other highly visible projects to Grand Rapids.

1996: Grand Rapids City Manager Kurt Kimball, The Right Place President Birgit Klohs and then-Gov. John Engler. They were cited for their overall impact as partners in economic development in West Michigan, primarily through the then-new Renaissance Zones.

1997: The birth of Spectrum Health, through the marriage of the former Blodgett and Butterworth hospitals. More than 10 years later, the merged entity continues to make big news.

1998: The West Michigan Grand Prix, headed up by Sam Cummings and Dan DeVos.

1999: Ted Perez, George Heartwell and David Cassard, three people who immersed themselves in parking and transportation issues with long-range plans.

2000: Van Andel Research Institute, which made its presence felt for the first time with breakthrough work in the cancer research and biomed fields.

2001: Then-Kent County Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Malone and Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio, for  making Kent a better place to live and work, ranging from parkland preservation to the new courthouse to health plans for those who couldn’t afford them.

2002: A partnership between Siemens Corp. and Grand Valley State University for developing an alternative-energy business park in Muskegon.

2003: The $212 million DeVos Place convention center for garnering national significance along with its local development impetus.

2004: Saint Mary’s Lacks Cancer Center and the Meijer Heart Center at Spectrum Health earned top honors as much for the ways they would deliver treatment as for their stunning new facilities.

2005: The Michigan State University West Michigan Medical School plan.

2006: Partners in the development of the Medical Mile on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

The folks attending this year’s Econ Club luncheon will hear which 2007 story emerges on top. Take a look at the Focus section with the knowledge that there are many winners in our midst.

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