Heacock to be honored at MSU event

February 18, 2011
| By Pete Daly |
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The new Secchia Center on the Medical Mile will be the venue for the 16th Annual MSU Means Business networking event Thursday evening. Featured speakers will be Stefanie Lenway, the Eli and Edythe L. Broad dean of the Eli Broad College of Business and Eli Broad Graduate School of Management; Scott Westerman, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association; and the 16th Annual West Michigan MSU Business Person of the Year: Steven R. Heacock.

“I am very humbled and honored to be among this group of people,” said Heacock. “It’s particularly encouraging right now in my life. I really appreciate the recognition.”

Heacock, a former chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners and an unsuccessful candidate last year for the Republican nomination for the Michigan 3rd Congressional District, graduated with honors from MSU in 1978 with a degree in accounting. He worked for Price Waterhouse in Detroit for four years as a senior tax accountant before leaving to attend law school at the University of Michigan, where he graduated cum laude.

“I really have valued my education at Michigan State,” said Heacock, who is a native of Gaylord. “I grew up in a small town, a middle class kid, and (MSU) gave me the opportunity to move on and to seek bigger and more interesting opportunities.”

With his new law degree in 1984, Heacock joined Warner Norcross & Judd in Grand Rapids and rose to partner by 1997. He then joined Priority Health as vice president of development/general counsel/corporate secretary. In 2002, he joined Ideasphere Inc., as chief legal and administrative officer/corporate secretary and treasurer/chief financial officer. Ideasphere is a privately held development stage company focused on nutritional supplements and other wellness products.

From 2004 until he went on the campaign trail last year, Heacock was with the Van Andel Institute, serving as chief administrative officer, general counsel and corporate secretary.

In 1997, he was elected to the Kent County Board of Commissioners representing Cascade Township. He was on the board until 2002, serving as vice chair in his second and third year, and as chair for the remainder of his tenure.

Heacock has been working as a business consultant lately but said he plans to accept another full-time executive position soon.

Lenway was named in July to serve as dean of the MSU Eli Broad College of Business. With a total of 30 years experience as a business researcher and university administrator, Lenway previously served as dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“My message is really about globalization and education,” said Lenway.

Unlike the Michigan of the past, when manufacturing was at its peak, “being able to make a middle-class salary without a college education is probably going to be very difficult” from here on, she said.

Entrepreneurship and globalization are two of the keys to the state’s future, she said.

“Michigan is starting to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and, hopefully, new companies will spring up that will hire people” here, she said.

Where the state still remains world class is in its automotive manufacturing and design capabilities, rooted in a very advanced and highly skilled machine tool industry. “I think automotive is still very strong, and since the companies have globalized, they’ve gotten stronger,” she said.

The annual MSU Means Business event allows MSU alums to network and hear what’s new with the business program on campus. MSU Means Business is produced by the MSU Alumni Club of West Michigan, representing more than 24,000 MSU Alumni in West Michigan.

Mike Lindley of Huntington Bank was named MSU Business Person of the Year at last year’s event. Previous winners include Peter Secchia, Universal Forest Products; Jim Williams, Williams Distributing; John Zwarensteyn, Grand Rapids Business Journal; and Lody Zwarensteyn, Alliance for Health.

The MSU Means Business event runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and is free to MSU alumni and friends of the university. More than 200 local Spartan business leaders and graduates are expected to attend this year. For more information or to submit nominations for future MSU Business Person of the Year, e-mail jerry.jonckheere@plantemoran.com

Corporate sponsor is Huntington Bank. Gold sponsors are the MSU – Eli Broad School of Business; MSU College of Human Medicine; Plante & Moran; AON; Warner Norcross & Judd; Pinnacle Insurance Partners; Applause Catering & Events; and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

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