Government and Lakeshore

Holland and Zeeland And then they were one

May 29, 2012
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After two and a half years of exploration, negotiating, surveying, research, planning, questioning and meeting, there is a new chamber of commerce on the Lakeshore. Or, more accurately, there is one less chamber there.

The boards of directors of the Holland and Zeeland chambers of commerce voted last week to unanimously approve a resolution to merge into one organization called the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce.

A proxy requesting approval of the merger went out last week via e-mail to members of both chambers. Member meetings will be held June 12 to finalize all of the votes. If approved, the new organization will begin operations Sept. 1.

The organization will retain offices in both Holland and Zeeland. Current chamber presidents Jane Clark and Jim Schoettle will serve as president and executive director of development, respectively. Both will also be non-voting members of the board of directors and the board’s executive committee. The new chamber’s strategic priorities include public policy advocacy; education training and networking programs; member benefits; community and economic development; and excellence in operations.

As for the new name, The Image Group of Holland was contracted to assist in the development and creative work with the chamber’s marketing group.

“The name provides a strong sense of place, both for local audiences as well as for out-of-area businesses and partnerships,” said a statement released by the new organization. “The West Coast of the U.S. is a progressive, forward-thinking place — not dissimilar to West Michigan today and tomorrow. It conveys a broad, professional feel, with substantial weight and stability. The coast provides a connection to one of the community’s defining features and gives the chamber flexibility for potential growth and expansion.”

To clarify: The above statement is favorably comparing the progressiveness of Holland and Zeeland to that of the West Coast of the United States. Just in case you missed the gist of it.

Art appreciation

The votes are in, and Lane Cooper, David Chupp and Leanne Vandenbos are the three winners of the Third Annual Legacy Trust Award Collection.

Public voting wrapped up May 18 in the competition for adult artists with disabilities, which is co-sponsored by Legacy Trust and Artists Creating Together, formerly VSA Michigan-Grand Rapids. Each Legacy Trust Award Collection winner received a cash prize and will be entered in ArtPrize 2012. Cooper, who was selected by a panel of celebrity judges, was also one of the top vote-getters in the 2010 LTAC competition.

“We were very pleased once again with the results of the LTAC competition and the winning pieces,” said Bill Walker, CEO and president of Legacy Trust. “Many tremendously talented artists submitted to the growing competition, and the three winning pieces are particularly impressive works. I am always inspired by this competition and so glad to be able to host it. I look forward to sharing these works with the rest of Grand Rapids and visitors to the area during ArtPrize 2012.”

The three recipients of top honors in the Legacy Trust Award Collection each has a story to tell, and all are artists worthy of their place in ArtPrize.

Cooper displayed “Dining on the Grand,” which is a work he created with found objects. Originally from Ludington and now a resident of Freeport, Cooper was in a severe car accident in 2003 that left him with a closed-head injury. To cope with the violent headaches that resulted, he used his talents with welding to create sculptures.

Chupp displayed “Formosa Arena,” an intricate and painting. Chupp, a resident of Kentwood, has been creating art since he was a teenager. He was introduced to the Navajo art of sand painting while on vacation in New Mexico. Ten years ago, he suffered a closed-head injury in an accident that occurred while he was fixing a tractor. Chupp has had to overcome several challenges that resulted from his brain injury, including the loss of a photographic memory. One thing that did not change, however, was his love of art. Today he is a full-time artist working primarily in acrylic, sand painting and sand sculptures.

Vandenbos displayed “Untitled,” a mixed-media painting that is a tribute to her dog, Baggins. The Grand Rapids resident, who has learning and developmental disabilities, has been expanding her experience as an artist through her involvement with Artist Creating Together, or ACT, over the past six years. Vandenbos began participating in ACT art classes through her Kent Vocation Options School in Grand Rapids. Since graduating, she has continued as a participant in ACT’s graduated art adult classes and as a volunteer.

An EPIC evening

This month’s EPIC Awards event, honoring entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative companies, put the spotlight on several West Michigan businesses that are up-and-comers.

Cindy Locklin and Busy Bea’s Services Inc. earned the top woman-owned business honor. The commercial janitorial company puts an emphasis on environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility while forging strong relationships with its clients.

“Customers refer to Busy Bea’s as their extended family,” Locklin said. Busy Bea’s takes that same approach with its employees, she said, sometimes paying employees for their volunteer work to encourage them to give back to the community.

Other winners in the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce event were SecurAlarm Systems Inc. for small business of the year; Ryan Cook and Snap Fitness in the young entrepreneur category; Achievement Resources LLC as the top minority-owned business; YWCA West Central Michigan for best nonprofit; and Michigan Blood for overall excellence in business.

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