Reading A Good Future

March 17, 2008
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Last November, the Business Journal published a story, “In a Class By Itself,” concerning Display Pack’s Customized Workplace English program. The first group of students has graduated from the program, which was declared a success.

A total of 45 Display Pack employees received certificates of completion from West Michigan Literacy Center's CWE program. The classes began in May 2007, with each class running for two sessions of 12 weeks. Employees learned English vocabulary needed in the workplace, as well as lessons on quality, lean manufacturing, workplace computer use (such as filling out accident reports and visual inspection forms), and other topics specific to Display Pack’s manufacturing environment.

Supervisors report that participants show improvement in job attendance, productivity, self-esteem and safety. The students’ responses were positive, as well. One participant reported that certain things — such as workplace signs — started to make sense. Another participant commented on how she is able to better communicate with her friends and her boss. One employee was recently promoted, with his improved English being a factor in his advancement.

At its recent “Spellabration” event, West Michigan Literacy Center presented Display Pack with a Pay It Forward award to recognize the company for its involvement in the program and for the exposure the effort has received as a result of Display Pack’s participation.

Display Pack officials indicated they plan to continue offering the program, which is funded in part by Display Pack, as well as grant money from West Michigan Literacy Center and the U.S. Department of Labor & Economic Development.

  • AON, Fifth Third Bank and Miller Johnson will receive the 2008 Pillar Award from the Women’s Resource Center during a luncheon fundraising event March 26 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

The newly renamed award recognizes employers’ contributions to the success of women in their workplaces. Since 1987, more than 55 organizations have received the award. Organizations submitting an application are selected based on “best practices” that have been implemented to empower women in the workplace.

“These employers understand the value women employees bring to their business,” said Sharon Caldwell-Newton, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center. “WRC salutes these progressive employers with the Pillar Award because of the smart business decisions that maximize this valuable and vital segment of the labor force.

This year, the WRC expects to attract 600 attendees and raise approximately $40,000.

  • Holland is in the midst of hosting several Energy Week events, including the Wednesday appearance by keynote speaker John Doggett, who will speak on the topic of “Worldwide Energy Issues” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Haworth Inn & Conference Center. An internationally known author, speaker, educator and business advisor, Doggett provides a sobering perspective on the emergence of new economies in places like China and India, and the implications of those economies for citizens of the U.S.

Holland WEST (Windmill on Every Steeple Team), a renewable energy initiative formed last fall, is sponsoring events throughout the community. Activities include tours of the Herman Miller Energy Center on Tuesday and a walkthrough at the new LEED-certified building at Haworth headquarters on Thursday. The sessions will conclude Thursday with David Konkle, Ann Arbor energy coordinator, speaking at 7 p.m. at Herrick District Library. More information is available at

  • The president of Omni Medical Waste Inc. has entered the race for the 75th State House of Representatives seat, challenging incumbent Robert Dean. Republican entry Dan Tietema  announced his candidacy at a kick-off event last Thursday.

  • Ties that bind. The John Truscott Group, led by its president by the same name, has opened an office in Grand Rapids. The Lansing-based public relations and issue management firm has expanded thanks to a growing client base in West Michigan, which includes business clients as well as some ongoing ties to the Republican base here.

“Over the years, I have done a lot of work in West Michigan. Having an office in Grand Rapids will give me a more permanent presence in the region,” Truscott said.

Truscott is best known as the former communications director and press secretary for Gov. John Engler. In addition, he has served as the Michigan mouthpiece for the Bush for President efforts and was also the communications director for the DeVos for Governor campaign.

Emily Dulude will also spend time staffing the West Michigan office. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and has been an intern for the Truscott Group and also a staff member of the DeVos for Governor campaign.

The firm’s office is located at 250 Monroe Ave., Suite 400.

  • SMG/DeVos Place & Van Andel Arena Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan has some more help overseeing events at DeVos Place. Eddie Tadlock, of Seattle, Wa., has been hired as the new assistant general manager for the busy facility.

Tadlock comes to Grand Rapids with more than 19 years of experience directing sales, purchasing, business development, operations and personnel at the corporate level for meeting and convention facilities.

  • One of the events SMG and other convention administrators are gearing up for is the Jan. 27-30, 2009, Religions Conference Management Association gathering that is expected to draw more than 1,200 attendees to downtown Grand Rapids. Rex Rogers, former Cornerstone University president, is the Host Committee chair.

The gathering is not a religious conference but rather a session for planners of religious conferences, which of course is one of the most recession-proof industries to be found anywhere. The Convention and Visitors Bureau will use the conference as an opportunity to pitch Grand Rapids to the planners of large conferences for faith communities. By leveraging the fact that the conference is coming here, the CVB claims to have booked three additional conferences with a potential impact of 4.8 million visitors.


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