Grand Rapids Business Journal 04.20.20

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Greenhouses face deadline to keep products fresh. Page 2


FREY ZAGEL LEADS STRONG Through her business, Successful Generations, philanthropist and coach helps others leave a legacy. Page 9

The Business Newspaper of Metro Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon & West Michigan APRIL 20, 2020 VOL. 38, NO. 16

Partners deliver COVID swabs in a flash. Page 3

Farmers adapt to changing markets Retail demand is up, but with food services crashing, the struggle to survive continues. Danielle Nelson

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Heart burn Spectrum doctors warn of confusion between COVID-19 symptoms, other serious health issues. PAGE 3

Credit foundation Line of Credit Guarantee designed to ease burden on midsize to large nonprofits in Ottawa County. PAGE 3

TEA for you The Employers’ Association releases annual benefits report. PAGE 6

Michigan’s agricultural industry is calling on the federal government for help amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. In a letter sent to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, Gary McDowell, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Department director, is urging him to support Michigan when distributing the $14 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation and the $9.5 billion appropriated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Agricultural Leaders of Michigan (ALM), which includes the Michigan Milk Producers Association and the Michigan Pork Producers Association, among others, also reached out to Perdue urging him to provide support and aid. Michigan’s agricultural industry, which generates $104.7 billion annually, according to McDowell, has been beset by different unsettling circumstances such as weather, a labor shortage and low commodity prices. But the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with those circumstances has crippled

Stakeholders aligning efforts to support ‘unsung heroes’ in Kent County during the pandemic. Grand Rapids Business Journal



The area’s top sustainability education programs. Page 5

the industry, he said. “Michigan’s farming and agriculture community is facing extraordinary challenges to keep food on the shelves,” McDowell said. “We’re grateful for the aid our farmers received when 82 of the state’s 83 counties were declared disasters last year. I am hopeful

we can count on USDA’s continued support in these unprecedented times.” In the letter, the director detailed the agricultural needs and possible federal solutions for the state: •Dairy: Michigan dairy producers have seen falling prices and

demand fluctuations leading to milk dumping. MDARD is asking USDA to work to ensure farmers have markets for their products and make direct payments to producers. •Specialty crops: As a large speContinued on page 11 8

Coalition coordinates aid to child care centers Rachel Watson

SILVER LINING Calvin University scores well on sustainability performance rating.

PORK AND DAIRY PRODUCERS are feeling the effects of COVID-19 in areas ranging from a labor shortage to packaging problems. Photo by iStock

A team of West Michigan organizations is working to provide resources and support for a group of frontline workers putting their health and families at risk to help others during COVID-19: child care providers. For other critical infrastructure employees to continue doing their essential in-person jobs during the pandemic, a certain number of home-based providers and child care centers — a segment of the economy that already was struggling to stay afloat before this crisis — need to remain open for business. Annemarie Valdez is president and CEO of First Steps Kent, a

10-year-old nonprofit that works with community partners to advocate for and invest in the county’s early childhood system. She and her team are “convening, gathering and aligning the work” of a new coalition formed March 20: the Kent Child Care Crisis Response Team. The purpose of the team is to coordinate efforts and align activities that support Kent County child care providers and families who work in essential industries and need child care during COVID-19. The team includes representatives from Camp Fire West Valdez Michigan 4C, Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (ELNC), Great Start Collaborative, Great Start to Quality, Head Start for Kent County, KConnect, Kent Continued on page 13 8

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THE TEAM COORDINATES efforts and aligns activities that support Kent County child care providers and families who work in essential industries and need child care during COVID-19. Photo by iStock

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Greenhouses face deadline to keep products fresh Most should be OK if stay-at-home order is lifted in May. Danielle Nelson

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Mike Koetsier is optimistic — for now — despite his business suffering financial losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Koetsier, the owner of Koetsier’s Greenhouse in Grand Rapids, estimated he has lost 20% of his sales, which under normal circumstances would derive from the opening of his seasonal business’ 40,000-square-foot retail space from either the last weekend of March or the first weekend of April until June. However, because of the pandemic, which has resulted in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order closing all nonessential businesses until April 30, he hasn’t been able to officially open his operation to the public. Although Koetsier’s business is behind its scheduled opening time frame, he is confident he’ll open his business in May — barring another extension of the governor’s executive order. “I am hopeful that we can open at least in some form on May 1, whether it is curbside only or limited customers, but we can’t go much longer than May 15,” he said. “If we can’t open and do some sort of high-volume worth of sales, that is going to be a problem. Everything we have for sale is perishable. If we go into June it gets too warm in the greenhouse and we can’t control the temperature. We have a later crop that we normally sell in June, which is fine, but our early crop,

we would probably start dumping some of that and we don’t want to do that.” Koetsier’s greenhouse is a retail garden center where an estimated 90,000 individuals visit seasonally. Products include flats of flowers and bulbs, potted arrangements, herbs, and fruits and vegetables. In an effort to keep his hopes alive for a May 1 opening, Koetsier has lowered the temperature in the growing space of his greenhouse. He normally sets the temperature inside his 60,000-square-foot growing space to between 67 and 72 degrees. Now, the temperature inside the growing space is between 58 and 65 degrees.

“We’ve turned down our temperature to slow the growing of everything and we are running our plants extremely dry.” Mike Koetsier

“We’ve turned down our temperature to slow the growing of everything and we are running our plants extremely dry,” he said. “We try not to let anything wilt, but we’ll write down just before we water it again and then we only give it a little bit just to keep it from growing too fast in the greenhouse. They grow much faster in the greenhouse than outside. If we cannot control that, then at some point it will be unsellable. So, we are trying to control things that way. Luckily, April is usually quite cold so there are only a few plants we can sell (right now.) The biggest

KOETSIER’S GREENHOUSE in Grand Rapids is gearing up for customers on May 1 provided the stayhome order is lifted. Courtesy Bonnie Koetsier

thing is pansies.” Because the pansies grew rapidly in his greenhouse, Koetsier said he gave away the first crop to frontline workers such as registered nurses, doctors, police officers and EMTs earlier this month. The pandemic also has affected the production crew and people who would have worked the retail end of the operation, totaling about 40 employees. “We sent most of our staff home when this first started just to try and keep everyone safe,” he said. “So, we’ve been operating with just our family. Since my kids are out of school, they’ve been helping because we are all quarantined together anyway. They are doing the work that some of our normal employees would be doing. Luckily,

my employees can file for unemployment. A lot of my workers depend on this job, although it’s a seasonal job, as part of their income.” Although the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order extends to April 30 and includes greenhouses, there are farming advocates who are imploring the Whitmer administration to amend the executive order to exclude farm-related businesses. One of those advocates is the Michigan Farm Bureau. “While farms can grow plants for food or ornamental purposes, there isn’t a clear and consistent interpretation of their ability to sell these same plants,” MFB said in a statement. “These businesses are currently brimming with flowering plants, nursery stock and vegetable plants. If these farms miss their

primary window of opportunity to sell products to customers, growers and their employees could face an entire year without income. The lack of sales could also result in a high level of product loss.” Whether greenhouses are allowed to reopen in April or on May 1, Koetsier said he will ensure that his consumers take precautions when they are in his store. “We are taking measures that if and when we do open that this is going to be a safe place to shop,” he said. “Whether it be curbside, we will be offering some deliveries as well, and we will be taking safety measures. We have wide aisles so people can social distance, as well as exhaust fans and the roof … will be open so there will always be fresh air.”

Organization works to provide care and safety for children, Page 4 APRIL 20, 2020 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL 3

Partners deliver COVID swabs in a flash COVID-19 Spectrum Health, Kent County get Keystone’s first batch of up to 60,000 nasal swabs for tests. Ehren Wynder

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Keystone Solutions Group recently partnered with The Right Place Inc. to deliver up to 60,000 muchneeded nasal swabs to Spectrum Health and Kent County. Eric Icard, senior business development manager for The Right Place Inc., said the organization recently learned Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids had a critical shortage of nasal swabs in COVID-19 testing kits. Icard added Spectrum was not the only one in need of nasal swabs. The Kent County Emergency Operations Center also had a critical shortage of swabs and personal protective equipment. “To my knowledge, there were only a few hundred of these swabs available, both with Spectrum and with the county,” Icard said. “The best way to tackle this is to identify who has COVID, and the only way to do so is with these tests.” Although Keystone is located in Kalamazoo and is outside of The Right Place’s territory, Icard was familiar with the company because of its involvement in MiDevice. MiDevice is a MEDC-supported organization dedicated to medical device design, development, manufacturing and distribution. The consortium works to speed the growth and development of medical devices by emphasizing

THE KEYSTONE CREW worked on getting tens of thousands of swabs ready for distribution to Spectrum Health and Kent County. Courtesy Keystone Solutions Group

and encouraging collaboration among members to meet overall product lifecycle and supply chain needs. Jim Medsker, president of Keystone, said the time from organizing partnerships to getting the final product has shown a gargantuan accelerated effort to get swabs into the hands of the organizations that need them. “When we’re talking about launching a brand new program with a sterilized, single-use device, this is typically a six-month process,” Medsker said. “From that call with Eric to production, we’re at less than a month.” Keystone is an FDA-registered and ISO13485:2016-certified man-

ufacturer of single-use disposable and reusable medical products. Medsker said the company is well positioned, because of its designation, to meet the needs of both Spectrum and Kent County. “One example, a group out of New York has requested as many as 600,000 swabs a week,” Medsker said. “I’d say we have 200 or 300 requests from different hospital groups like that.” Icard said he first contacted Medsker the morning of April 4, and Keystone sent out the first production of new swabs for final review on April 10. “From the time I emailed Jim on that Saturday morning to the end of the day, we had initial specs

from Spectrum and the county,” Icard added. “I think that speaks to the partnership we have.” Medsker said the last of the swabs in this initial production run were sent out for sterilization and distribution on April 14. Approximately 30,000 to 60,000 were sent out in the initial production run. Ongoing production will be determined per Spectrum’s needs. Keystone’s single-use nasal swabs are available in packs of 100 and come in two styles, tapered and non-tapered. Keystone also is modifying its current infrastructure to meet demand. Medsker said the process is quite manual at the moment, producing on average 20,000 to 40,000 swabs in a week, but with automation leveraged properly, he believes Keystone could produce the same number in a single day. “Eric and his team have been really instrumental in this,” Medsker said. “The introductions that Eric has made with the entire Spectrum team and Kent County and others, that’s key to this acceleration.” Icard said Keystone won’t be the only partner tapped to help. “The list of needs is quite significant, when you’re talking masks, face shields, sanitizer, gowns, etc.,” Icard said. “We have identified well over 100 manufacturers. It’s just a matter of matching needs to capabilities.” Medsker said Keystone is funding its own increased production capabilities and continued increase in demand for swabs will drive the extent of its rampup in automation. He predicted the overall cost could be around $300,000.

Community foundation launches loan program Line of Credit Guarantee designed to ease burden on midsize to large nonprofits in Ottawa County.

Applications are due April 24 for a new loan opportunity for nonprofits in Ottawa County. The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) on April 10 announced it is launching a Line of Credit Guarantee Program that allows nonprofits in the greater Holland/ Zeeland area with a 2019 operating budget of $500,000 or more to apply for a CFHZ guaranteed line of credit established through West Michigan Community Bank (WMCB). Nonprofits do not need to be existing customers of WMCB to qualify, and the LOC guarantee from CFHZ is structured so nonprofits will not need to go through the traditional underwriting process or use their own collateral for a line of credit or loan.

The Line of Credit Guarantee Program has a total cap of $2 million, with a limit of up to $100,000 for organizations with 2019 budgets of $500,000 to $1 million and $200,000 for organizations with 2019 budgets of $1 million or more. CFHZ anticipates being able to help about 10-15 nonprofits through the program out of around 50-60 midsize to large nonprofits in the greater Holland/ Zeeland area. Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of CFHZ, said the community foundation got to work setting up this opportunity the week of Gov. Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and launched it within about two weeks. Goorhouse “I don’t know if any of us anticipated this unique combination of deep public health, economic and basic needs issues arising so quickly all at the same time and with no sense of how long the challenges will last,” he said. “The community foundation is doing (its) best to analyze the constantly changing environment so that we

can best deploy our resources to make the most impact possible.” Goorhouse said the LOC program came about as the community foundation began seeing nonprofits having to cancel their spring fundraisers and close down their resale stores. Many organizations use those two as their most significant revenue streams. “People were like, ‘My spring fundraiser (generates) $150,000 and the resale store is $40,000 a month toward my operating debt, and it’s just — poof! — gone in midair while the needs are also rising,’” Goorhouse said. The community foundation’s response was twofold: First, it joined a response coalition with Greater Ottawa County United Way and the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation to create a $600,000 fund for the basic needs of “keeping people fed, housed and healthy” — of which about $500,000 had been distributed as of press time. Secondly, CFHZ decided to do the LOC program to help nonprofits sustain their operating funds. Applications will be reviewed by a joint taskforce of CFHZ Distribution Committee and Program Related Investment (PRI) Committee members with support from CFHZ staff.

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Grand Rapids Business Journal

can mask other health problems Doctors say heart patients are especially vulnerable to confusing symptoms. Ehren Wynder

Grand Rapids Business Journal

While the risk of COVID-19 is occupying media headlines, Spectrum Health leaders are concerned residents are choosing to stay home and put off medical attention for a potential heart attack, which can exhibit similar symptoms. Dr. John Heiser, division chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Spectrum Health, said he’s seen four cases within the last month of people with acute ventricular septal defects, or a hole in between the two main pumping chambers of the heart.

“I think most people who have chest pain should be calling 911 to get immediate care for that. The trouble with COVID is shortness of breath is a common finding, but it’s a late finding in the case of a heart attack.”

Dr. John Heiser

“We know our local nonprofits really well, but they have a chance to make their case and tell their story about the work that they do and the impact they have on the community and why it’s important that their mission stays alive and healthy and well,” Goorhouse said. Leslie Brown, board chair of

Heiser said some people are born with the condition, but a VSD also can develop later in life, where the wall between the two ventricles decays as a result of a heart attack. “The short of it is sometimes people sit home with heart attacks,” Heiser said. “It can take some time for these complications to arise, and they come in later, short of breath, thinking they have COVID.” The biggest common symptom between COVID-19 and a VSD is shortness of breath, Heiser said. “I think most people who have chest pain should be calling 911 to get immediate care for that,” Heiser said. “The trouble with COVID is shortness of breath is a common finding, but it’s a late finding in the case of a heart attack.” Heiser added other symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and a dry cough. If patients are experiencing shortness of breath without a fever, they should seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, blood tests for a potential heart attack are readily available and reliable in terms of identifying one. While some hospitals in the U.S. are overwhelmed with a surge in COVID-19 patients, Heiser said social distancing practices in Grand Rapids have been good enough to prevent the same

Continued on page 118

Continued on page 118

The taskforce will consider three main factors when selecting nonprofits to receive the LOC, Goorhouse said: how they have been impacted financially by COVID-19, whether the nonprofit was financially healthy before the crisis, and the general impact and capacity of the organization.

“Our goal is to hopefully not lose too much nonprofit capacity during this crisis so we can come out the other side and still have strong nonprofits.”

Mike Goorhouse

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Organization works to provide care and safety for children D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s uses telehealth, field teams to respond to crisis needs of children and families. Rachel Watson

Grand Rapids Business Journal

While recognizing the number of child abuse reports will in all likelihood rise after the stay-athome order ends, D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s is working hard to ensure the safety of children now. The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit, like all other organizations, has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and is following social distancing rules and limiting all nonessential contact. But as an agency that serves the community’s most vulnerable populations, D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s is committed to continuing to serve and protect, said President and CEO Jim Paparella. Paparella spoke to the Business Journal on April 13 about his staff’s frontline efforts to serve children and families through its child welfare, family preservation services and residential services divisions. The first of those three encompasses foster care licensing and oversight as well as adoption services. The second offers mental health services for families and children in schools, offices and homes. The third division is built for housing children whose emotional and behavioral needs have prevented them from maintaining stable foster care placements. Paparella said DABSJ foster care and adoption workers continue to stay connected with their children and family clients by

hosting visits over Skype, FaceTime or TeleHealth. As needed and when urgent, they are continuing to visit homes and engage children and families. He said the agency’s family preservation services division also is using TeleHealth technology to stay connected and provide services. According to a post on the DABSJ website, its Kent School Services Network (KSSN) team is helping out with delivering food to families that don’t have transportation and sharing new engagement strategies; the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) team is providing direct services to clients; and the Family Support Services team also is checking in with families more frequently and coordinating with other providers in the community to ensure needs are being met. Re s i d e n t i a l care is perhaps one of the most challenging diPaparella visions to serve during COVID-19, Paparella said, because there is nowhere else to send the children, and they must receive 24/7 shelter, care and treatment that can’t be done remotely. He said unfortunately, five children out of the current 25 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as of press time and were being cared for in quarantine by workers receiving hazard pay. Caregivers at the residential campus also are redoubling their efforts to keep social distancing in place with and between children and use “verbal de-escalations” and “hands-off” care unless a child is endangering him or herself or others. DABSJ recently received dona-

tions of medical-grade face masks for residents and staff to wear and was implementing all the recommended sanitization and hygiene protocol. Ordinarily, residential enrollment would be higher right now, Paparella said, but referrals are down. He expects this to continue temporarily during the stay-athome order. “A lot of children that normally might be removed by Child Protective Services are still in their homes,” he said. “We’re expecting a surge in child abuse and neglect and children being removed to their homes and taken into protective custody, but it won’t happen right now, because the schools are closed, day care centers are closed, youth gathering and recreational facilities are closed. The typical eyes on children that would see symptoms of child maltreatment aren’t there right now.” He said child abuse is almost certainly increasing in step with the rise in underlying causes of poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, unemployment, mental health and substance abuse during this time. “We’re going to see a pretty significant delayed surge of referrals to agencies like ours to help these families. And, hopefully, (the children are) in protective custody temporarily while we try to help reunify them with the family. But about half the kids in foster care will move into adoption because they can’t be reunified safely with their families after a certain amount of time,” he said. Paparella said DABSJ can still take new residents due to its “incredible network” of social workers and staff volunteering to work overtime to help in the crisis, and the fact that it has “elevated” its safety measures due to the positive COVID-19 cases.

He said the organization has a “huge need” for foster homes currently, because it has not been able to go out and recruit foster parents in person as it normally would. “We’re willing to do things virtually by providing foster parent training through virtual technology,” he said. “But you think of our foster homes that have taken these kids into their temporary safe haven — they’re now overwhelmed with kids not being in school, and so the demand for foster homes still exceeds the number of foster homes we have. If you consider the stress of families who are now quarantined or (under the) stay home directive with their own kids, you can imagine the stress that puts on our foster parents, too. And everyone’s scrambling for masks and protective equipment, and our foster parents are no exception.”

equipment to meet the new level of need. Those who are interested in giving funds can visit donation-form, or people who want to buy supplies, games or activities for DABSJ can visit the nonprofit’s Amazon Wish Lists at and amzn. to/3cgE9hm. Despite the volume of disconcerting news for DABSJ at this time, Paparella said he does see some bright spots. He is pleased with how the team has come together to connect, care for each other and maintain positive morale through GoToMeeting and Zoom conferences, and they are hearing and sharing a lot of client success stories in those meetings. “This brings out the best in people, especially those who are committed to our mission. I

“We’re going to see a pretty significant delayed surge of referrals to agencies like ours to help these families. And, hopefully, (the children are) in protective custody temporarily while we try to help reunify them with the family. But about half the kids in foster care will move into adoption because they can’t be reunified safely with their families after a certain amount of time.” Jim Paparella Across all its divisions, DABSJ works with low-income families who need food and rental assistance. Paparella said despite Kent County being a resource-rich place, the system is being “taxed to an unprecedented level,” so he hopes that businesses, philanthropists and people with means will step up their donations of money and personal protective

couldn’t be prouder of our staff and our teams. This work is not for the faint of heart already, and in this environment, especially,” he said. “Our social work staff who are committed to serving these families are absolutely part of the essential workforce that’s out there in the field providing for children and families in crisis.”

Drone businesses are becoming more specialized Operators say the software innovations come fast and furious. Evan Jones

Capital News Service

LANSING — Many drone pilots who started a business to provide photo and video services to clients of all types now are specializing. People who operate drones for profit traditionally have shot footage of a house in the morning and a wedding in the afternoon, according to Andrew Wolfe, the pilotin-command of Drone Brothers, a Troy company that specializes in serving construction and real estate companies. Anyone can buy a drone, but to make money from it, the Federal Aviation Administration requires pilots to receive certification, Wolfe said. The improved quality of imagery from drone cameras has made demand rise across many sectors of the national economy, such as agriculture and infrastructure development, Wolfe said. “When you zoom in on Google, you get to a certain level, it gets pixelated and you can’t really see clear images,” Wolfe said. “With the drone, when you fly over a piece of land, it goes back and forth like a lawnmower and captures hundreds or thousands of pictures, and we use a specialized software to stitch those pictures together to give someone a bird’seye view of what that property looks like,” he said. But the market viability for

DRONES ARE EVOLVING at the rate computers once did, which could cause the industry to grow exponentially, operators say. Photo by iStock

catch-all drone services may be fading away, he said. “There are so many opportunities with the drones,” Wolfe said. “We kind of realized early that we really need to narrow down our focus.” Kurtis Damerow, owner of Emmet Drones in Petoskey, agreed that the market for all-services drone businesses is saturated. “There is still some room, but the level of competition is huge,”

he said. “If you’re looking to build a large business, you either have to know a lot of people or you’re going to have to hustle really, really hard.” Damerow spent the past year in California learning how to map and inspect power lines for utility companies, a skill he hopes to bring back to Michigan. Michigan’s utilities haven’t made drone inspections a priority yet, but services that companies

like his provide could be the norm within five years, Damerow said. “At the end of the day, it helps them complete better inspections for less money. I think it’s a nobrainer,” he said. The rate of advancement in technology requires specialization in the industry, Wolfe said. “As time goes on, these drones are getting smarter and smarter, literally. Literally on a quarterly basis there’s new updates for soft-

ware,” he said. Drones collect so much data that it can quickly become overwhelming, said Corey Oeschger, who started Thumb Drone Works in Bay Port in 2012 with a majority of clients in agriculture. “It’s getting kind of hard to keep up with it,” he said. “We try to stay on the cutting edge of technology with sensors and the drones themselves.” Oeschger said he started the business hoping the drone would pay for itself. “I thought, ‘Well, I could charge people for taking pictures of their farms,’” he said. “It kind of just went crazy from there.” Drone technology has rapidly developed and is now transitioning from updates of the hardware itself to the software and accessories attached to drones, Oeschger said. “I kind of had to make a choice a long time ago to keep up with the industrial technology, or go into taking neat pictures,” Oeschger said. “A friend of mind does the same thing. He’ll spend hours to take 200 pictures just for one good one, and I just don’t have the patience or the time for that.” Drones are evolving at the rate computers did, which could cause the industry to grow exponentially, Oeschger said. “The computer (once) was the size of a building. Now, obviously, there are homes that have more computing power than the space shuttle,” he said. As for drones, “They’re changing almost daily, the stuff that’s coming out software-wise. I’m looking forward to the next five to 10 years.”


Calvin shines in annual sustainability rating index City matching University maintains STARS Silver level while earning higher marks than last year. Danielle Nelson

Grand Rapids Business Journal

A local university is closer to its goal. Calvin University scored 52.54 on the 2020 Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), allowing the university to earn a STARS Silver rating. The score is an increase from last year. Calvin still earned a Silver rating last year, but with a total score of 45.97. STARS is a transparent, selfreporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It is a program of the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. “The (ratings) provides us with a way to track all the different aspects of our campus activities that are related to sustainability so we can see what we are doing and also get ideas for improvements on every single aspect,” said Becky Haney, chair and associate professor of the Economics Department and STARS sustainability liaison. Calvin senior and STARS intern Lillian Spackman was responsible for collecting all the sustainability data. “Our goal is to reach STARS Gold rating by 2024, which is earning 65% of the available points

on the STARS criteria,” she said. While the STARS system evolves year over year, Spackman said the university has remained consistent in its Silver ratings. “There have always been consistent and sustained pushes, especially from our people who are responsible for our operations and our facilities,” she said. “Our facilities people, especially, are the unsung heroes of Calvin’s campus because they manage our energy, our water and our grounds. They steadily, year over year, make improvements that are more sustainable. They use less water. They use less energy. They find better practices to manage our grounds. They go out of their way, because they are interested in it, to find better ways to do our recycling program.” The rating system tracks institutions’ academic, research, engagement, operations, planning and administration, innovation and leadership practices. Many universities participated in the program this year, including American University, Binghamton University, Cornell University, George Washington University, Loyola University Chicago, New York University and more. The results of the ratings are revealed a year after the tracking was conducted. Therefore, the 2020 STARS Silver rating reflects the efforts taken during the 20182019 academic year. The 2019 STARS Silver rating reflects the efforts taken during the 2017-2018 academic year. One area in which Calvin was able to improve its 2020 Silver STARS rating was in its planning

funds for neighborhood COVID-19 projects Submissions should address community resiliency, wellness, safety and basic needs for residents.

EACH YEAR, freshman students participating in Street Fest during orientation volunteer to work in the Calvin Campus Gardens. Courtesy Calvin Campus Gardens

and administration functions, specifically continuing education, where it scored 5.00/5.00. The 2019 rating was 0.88/5.00. The university added two sustainability courses: Preserving God’s Creation in fall 2018 and Turning Country Yards into Prairies in spring 2019. “Students throughout the university practice sustainability in some fashion,” Haney said. “One of the areas Calvin was able to improve its rating was in the food and dining area” In 2019, the university scored 1.74/8.00. This year, Calvin scored 2.58/8.00. Much of that improvement came from its efforts to promote sustainable dining.

Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary also partnered to form the Calvin Prison Initiative, which allows inmates at the Richard Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia to enroll at Calvin University and earn a bachelor’s degree. In so doing, they are contributing to what students eat. “The first class graduated in 2018 and that class started a community garden at the prison. Since then, Calvin’s dining services has been buying all the production output of that community garden and uses it in our dining hall,” Haney said. “Is that not cool are what? So, we have prison students, campus students, creative leaders of students doing creative things.”

Ehren Wynder

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Grand Rapids is investing in its neighborhoods through matching funds for projects that are focused on COVID-19 resiliency and recovery. The city is accepting project submissions for the Neighborhood Match Fund specifically to support projects that build community and focus on the future in non-contact ways. The next deadline for submissions is in June for projects that take place in Grand Rapids between Sept. 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. The deadline for projects originating between May 1 and Aug. 31 was April 19. The funds are available to city residents, inforContinued on page 138

Top Area Sustainability Education Programs (RANKED ALPHABETICALLY) President

Year founded

Public or private

Degrees offered

Sustainability courses/features

Aquinas College 1700 E. Fulton St. Grand Rapids 49506 p (616) 632-8900 f 732-4489

Kevin Quinn



Master of management with a concentration in sustainable business, Bachelor of Science in sustainable business

Introduction to Business and Sustainability, Sustainable Energy Systems, Sustainable Business Management, Sustainable Business in Corporations, Sustainable Business Metrics and Reporting, Environmental Economics and Policy, Social Entrepreneurship, Building Social Capital, Sustainable Business Innovations Lab, International Perspectives in Sustainable Business

Calvin University 3201 Burton St. SE Grand Rapids 49546 p (616) 526-6000 f 526-8551

Michael Le Roy



Bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, economics, engineering, environmental studies, environmental sciences, geography, geology, physics, public health and more

Sustainability Challenges, Analysis of Sustainability Engr. Systems, Environmental Geology, Human Impacts on the Environment, Environment and Society, Internship in Environmental Studies, History and Philosophy of Environmental Thought, Sustainability Economics, Economics of Energy and Sustainability, Urban Growth and Development, Global Health, Environment Sustainability, Environmental Chemistry and more

Central Michigan University - Grand Rapids 1633 East Beltline Ave. NE Grand Rapids 49525 p (616) 361-4160 f 361-4170

Robert Davies





Grand Rapids Community College 143 Bostwick Ave. NE Grand Rapids 49503 p (616) 234-4000

Bill Pink



Associate degrees and transfer programs in arts and sciences and workforce development; apprentice, certificate, continuing education, job training

Introduction to Sustainability - Acalog ACMS, Sustainability in the Face of Globalization: Southern Africa, AR 218 - Sustainable Residential Design - Acalog ACMS

Grand Valley State University 1 Campus Drive Allendale 49401 p (616) 331-5000

Philomena V. Mantella



Biology, environmental and sustainability studies, sustainable urban and regional planning, M.A. in social innovation, MBA with an emphasis in sustainable enterprise, M.S. in biology with emphases in natural resources and more


Hope College 141 E. 12th St. Holland 49423 p (616) 395-7000

Matthew Scogin



Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science in nursing, major in environmental science and minors in environmental science and environmental studies

(Note: not every course is offered every year) Biology 104: Organisms and Environment; Biology 105: General Biology I; Biology 106: General Biology II; Biology 107: General Biology Lab I; Biology 108: General Biology Lab II; Biology 315: Advanced Topics in Ecology; Biology 330: Marine Biology and Biophysics; Biology 340: Advanced Topics in Plant Biology and more

Kalamazoo College 1200 Academy St. Kalamazoo 49006 p (269) 337-7000 f 337-7305

Jorge Gonzalez Eileen WilsonOyelaran



Concentration (six courses) in environmental studies


Kuyper College 3333 East Beltline Ave. NE Grand Rapids 49525 p (616) 222-3000 f 988-3608

Patricia Harris



Certificate of Christian Foundations, DND Associate of Arts, Associate of Arts in business leadership, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Ministry

Muskegon Community College 221 S. Quarterline Road Muskegon 49442 p (231) 773-9131

Dale Nesbary



Wind and solar certificate


The Grand Rapids Business Journal list of 2020 top area sustainability education programs, ranked alphabetically, is the most comprehensive available. The list is based on Business Journal research and responses to Business Journal surveys. The Business Journal surveyed 20 institutions; 12 returned surveys and 9 are listed. To be considered for future lists, email DND = Did not disclose

National recognition

Aquinas College was recognized as one of the 2019-20 Colleges of Distinction, which is based on four merits — student engagement, teaching, community and outcomes.

LEED certified

The Campus Ministries house at Hope College was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council with LEEDv4 certification based on its sustainability uses.

ListStore @

Download this list now at in Excel or PDF format. The Book of Lists and other lists are also available.


The Employers’ Association publishes benefits report Survey provides HR leaders, employers with ‘critical’ benchmarking data for policy decisions. Rachel Watson

Grand Rapids Business Journal

The Employers’ Association has released an annual report designed to provide employers with “critical benchmark comparisons” from which to base their internal practices. The Grand Rapids-based human resource organization’s 2020 Policy, Practices & Benefits Survey, which has been conducted annually for over 45 years, represents data provided by 135 West Michigan organizations and details what benefits are being offered within eight major categories, including compensation, time away from work, leave of absence, insurance plans, benefits, workMcPhee ing conditions, recruitment and development, and health care and medical plan costs. Maggie McPhee, director of information services for TEA, said under each of those are a minimum of four to eight sections, for a total of 41 topics covered across the eight categories. The survey was conducted beginning in February and was published April 9. “It’s a survey for our members, and we do invite one or two other groups in with us, such as (Society for Human Resource Manage-

ment) chapters, per their request,” she said. The survey revealed more organizations have changed to paid time off (PTO) plans from separate vacation and personal time plans (51% in 2019 to 69% in 2020), the change being driven primarily by Michigan‘s Sick Leave Act that went into effect last year. “In order for people to comply with that, it was just a whole lot easier for them to change their separate vacation and personal sick time to a PTO bank,” McPhee said. This year’s report was expanded to include more comprehensive information about turnover numbers as well as harassment and discrimination policies. Ninety-nine percent of companies said their employee handbook contains a policy for harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment, 74% said they had conducted harassment training for all employees, and 32% said they had done so within the past six months, with 28% having done so in the past year, and 20% having conducted the training in the past two years. The report also expanded to include more comprehensive information about electronics policies, including asking employers who issues the laptops and cellphones, how they are monitored, what the teleworking policies state, and how those devices are retrieved after an employee leaves the company. In past years, health care and medical plan costs were addressed in a separate survey, but those topics were folded into the Policy, Practices & Benefits Survey this year, and the health care section was revised to include medical benefits data as a percentage of total compensation (13%). The

report reveals there was minimal change in the cost of medical plan premiums. McPhee noted the survey was conducted before COVID-19 hit the U.S. and thus does not reflect any possible changes in responses due to the pandemic. Other key findings •98% find that employee referral programs are most effective for recruitment. •74% seek to set their compensation programs at or slightly above “market” rates. •58% have a business continuation plan for emergencies (probably more now). SURVEY DEMOGRAPHICS Geographic region Metro Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids/Wyoming/Grandville/Kentwood/Walker: 52% West/lakeshore — Holland/Zeeland/Grand Haven/Nunica/Jenison/Hudsonville/Marne: 33% North — Rockford/Belding/ Greenville/Sparta: 4% East/south — Ada/Lowell/Caledonia/Dutton/Byron Center/Middleville/Hastings: 5% Up north/Lower Peninsula — Traverse City/Cadillac/Evart/Hersey/ East Jordan: 1% Other — 5% Company size 1-99 employees: 47% 100-250 employees: 29% 250-499 employees: 15% 500-999 employees: 5% 1,000 or more employees: 4% Industry type Manufacturing durables: 46% Manufacturing nondurables: 10% Wholesale/distribution: 7% Sales/service/retail: 4% Nonprofit: 10%

VI. DISCRIMINATION & HARASSMENT Q217. Does your employee handbook contain a policy for Discrimination and Harassment, including sexual harassment? Yes 99% No 1% TOTAL COMPANIES RESPONDED 110 Q217. Have you conducted Harassment training for employees? YES TOTAL COMPANIES RESPONDED ALL employees 74% 84 Supervisors and above 59% 37 Executives only 19% 26 Have not conducted this training 35% 37 Q217. When was the last training on Harassment completed? Within the last 6 months 32% Within the last 12 months 28% Withing the last 2 years 20% Other: Majority: Unknown 20% TOTAL COMPANIES RESPONDED 80 Source: The Employers' Association

Professional/financial/insurance/ technology: 7% Medical/health care: 2% Government: 1% Other (majority construction and engineering): 13% McPhee said as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the current business environment, organizations all over the country are re-examining how they do business. She said the detailed report can help ensure HR teams and employers remain competitive through the most cost-effective means. A new feature this year allows employers to request an HR audit based on their responses to the

survey for a lower cost than if they did not participate in the survey and had to respond to a separate audit questionnaire, McPhee said. For more information or to order the report, employers can contact Maggie McPhee at mcphee@, Marla Holzapfel at or The Employers’ Association at Founded in 1939, TEA a notfor-profit organization that provides human resource solutions to member employers and the community at large, including research and information; learning and development; organizational development; networking; and talent management.

Grants will promote state’s beers, wines, ciders and spirits More than $400K will be used for research projects covering climate change, pest control and new crops for brewing. Kyle Davidson

Capital News Service

LANSING — Researchers are receiving a record amount of state funding for projects that would benefit the beer, wine, cider and distilling industries.

“Michigan is so unique, especially with our Great Lakes climate and our ability to grow such high-quality produce including hops, including wine grapes.”

Jenelle Jagmin

The Michigan Craft Beverage Council will provide over $400,000 to 14 projects that include the effects of climate change on crops, pest and disease management, and development of new varieties of hops, barley, fruits and rye for use in brewing. The council also wants to

promote the industry with projects that could increase demand for Michigan’s hard ciders and increase understanding of market opportunities for Michigangrown fruit. The council replaced the Grape and Wine Industry Council in 2018 and focuses more on research than its predecessor, said its director, Jenelle Jagmin. It must spend at least 50% of its annual operating budget on research projects, with a maximum of $50,000 per project. It advises the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Last summer, the council’s research division put together a list of project priorities. An evaluation committee approved funding. It’s funded by liquor license fees, not taxpayer dollars. “Any of the work that our council is doing is paid for by the industry and is there to help make improvements for the industry,” Jagmin said. “Whenever we’re looking at new industries, the risks of moving into that industry can be fairly substantial. You have many barriers like learning how to grow hops, for example, what material you need, etc.,” said Steve Miller, an assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics. Miller said that by providing grants to entrepreneurs, more can enter a field where the costs and risks would otherwise keep them out. According to the Brewers Association, craft brewing contributed

GRANTS FROM THE Michigan Craft Beverage Council are funded by liquor license fees, not taxpayer dollars. Photo by iStock

$79.1 billion to the national economy in 2018 and provided more than 550,000 jobs nationwide. The national association, based in Colorado, represents small and independent U.S. brewers. During that year, the Brewers Association reported Michigan craft brewing provided over $2.56

billion to the economy. “Michigan is so unique, especially with our Great Lakes climate and our ability to grow such high-quality produce including hops, including wine grapes,” Jagmin said. “And then, of course, you can’t discount the tie that our craft

beverage companies have to our communities. The microbrews, the wineries, the craft distillers — they’re a part of our fabric. “It’s a thriving industry. We see it doing nothing but growing and we just want to make sure that we’re helping to facilitate that growth,” Jagmin said.


GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL supports our medical community, grocery industry, non-profits, retail and restaurant workers, truck drivers, mail carriers, and teachers. To all of our neighbors on the front lines, YOU ARE OUR HEROES! With gratitude, we THANK YOU!


Lawmakers weigh high-tech fight against prescription fraud Creating a direct communication between prescribers and pharmacies could reduce number of cases.

across the state,” he said. Koops said that creating a direct communication between prescribers and pharmacies could reduce cases of fraud. According to Holland, doctors who don’t want to update their systems oppose the legislation. It is common for medical practices to pay $500 or more a month in e-prescribing costs, according to a bill analysis by the Senate Health Policy and Human Services Committee.

Danielle James

Capital News Service

LANSING — In an attempt to limit prescription fraud, proposals working their way through the Legislature would mandate that prescriptions be electronically sent directly from physicians to pharmacies. The bills would streamline the prescribing process for pharmacies and limit cases of prescription fraud, according to Meegan Holland, vice president of marketing and communications for the Michigan Retailers Association. “The legislation will help prevent fraud and errors common with handwritten prescription pads,” Holland said. “The change will improve pharmacies’ workflow and make it harder for addicts to get access to opioids.” Electronic prescriptions would include information about the prescriber, the full name of the patient, an electronic signature and the time it was prescribed. “The biggest advantage of the bills is that they will eliminate forged prescriptions,” said Larry Wagenknecht, chief executive officer of the Michigan Pharmacists Association. “The ability of forgers to create a copy is very good, but now we can ensure that (prescriptions) will only come directly from

“We see prescription fraud as one of the top emerging issues. I wish I could say that it was only affecting certain areas, but it seems to be an idea that’s spreading across the state.” Blaine Koops

LAWMAKERS AND LAW enforcement authorities see prescription fraud as an emerging issue that’s spreading across the state. Photo by iStock

a physician’s office, which will help cut down on problems associated with forgeries.” Wagenknecht said there are few studies pertaining to forged prescriptions, but the anecdotal evidence is strong. “I can’t give a percentage because it’s relatively low relating to the total number of prescriptions filled, but it happens very frequently,’’ he said. Most of the prescriptions that

are forged are for controlled substances, he said, or medications that have an addiction potential or a street value. The Michigan Automated Prescription System reported that doctors wrote 11.4 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2015, equal to about 115 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. According to Blaine Koops, ex-

ecutive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, prescription fraud is a priority for law enforcement. “We’ve been part of these discussions for quite some time, not only on the state but on the national level,” Koops said. “We see prescription fraud as one of the top emerging issues. I wish I could say that it was only affecting certain areas, but it seems to be an idea that’s spreading

The analysis also said some rural practices suffer from inconsistent internet connectivity. According to Holland, the legislation would allow waivers for prescribers based on economic hardship or unexpected technological difficulties “to ensure there are no barriers to patients receiving their medications.” In addition to waivers, the new requirement wouldn’t apply if prescribers fit criteria determined by the state, including veterinarians and facilities like hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

Retailers blame some fraud on easy resale online Officials are asking lawmakers to look into organized crime efforts. Kyle Davidson

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Michigan Retailers Association wants to hold online marketplaces accountable in an effort to combat the sale of stolen goods. One of its top priorities this year is convincing the Legislature to update the state law on organized retail crime. “There are some people in the

profession that say that eBay is the world’s largest fencing operation,” said Robert Hanson, head of the criminal justice department at Northern Michigan University. “The individual theft is a serious problem in and of itself, but when they become organized, then it really multiplies the damage they can do to a company or to a series of companies. It’s because it takes very little money to organize it, and there’s very little risk,” Hanson said. William Hallan, president of the retailers group, said that while no legislation has been introduced, the goal is to require the operator of an online marketplace to delist an item if it’s determined to be stolen, and to create a system to

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report fraudulent items and verify that they were stolen. “We want to make sure consumers are protected and that consumers are buying goods that aren’t dangerous,” Hallan said. It would have the benefit of protecting retailers as well, he said. “It won’t be as lucrative to steal property from retailers if it’s not so easy to sell that on the secondary market.” The National Retail Foundation’s 2019 study of organized retail crime found that the surveyed businesses lost $703,320 on average for every $1 billion in annual sales. One-quarter reported a significant increase in organized retail crime at their companies, while 43% reported a slight increase in the previous 12 months. The top items stolen by organized retail criminals: designer clothing, 25%; infant formula, 16%; and razors, 16%. A number of reasons are blamed for the rise in incidents, including no-receipt return policies that enable criminals to return stolen goods and get a gift card that can then be sold online. Advancements in technology also make it easier to organize the theft and sale of stolen goods, according to Media Sonar Technologies, based in London, Ontario. “The folks that are engaged in organized retail crime — they are not your opportunistic teenager that they’re stealing a shirt because it’s cool with their friends,” Hallan said. “What these people are doing, it’s a professional enterprise and it is often tied into other forms of criminal activity.” Last November in Mecosta County, deputy sheriffs investigating a case of retail fraud arrested three suspects on separate charges

ONLINE MARKETPLACES like eBay, Craigslist and Facebook can become “fencing operations” for stolen goods, according to a professor of criminal justice. Photo by iStock

after finding meth in a residence along with $1,000 worth of stolen goods. Current Michigan law makes it a crime to receive, buy or possess retail merchandise for sale knowing or believing it was stolen from a retailer. It carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The Michigan Organized Retail Crime Advisory Board met last month at the State Police headquarters. The board has representatives from the Retailers Association, county prosecutors, local police agencies and the public. It discusses organized retail crime and actions that might reduce it.


FREY ZAGEL said living outside West Michigan for a while is something she recommends for everyone. Photo by 616 Media

Through her business, Successful Generations, philanthropist and coach helps others leave a legacy.

Frey Zagel helps others ‘lead strong’ Rachel Watson

Grand Rapids Business Journal


llie Frey Zagel strives to apply her resources and connections toward building up the community and helping those with family wealth leave a strong legacy. Frey Zagel is used to being locally famous in West Michigan, as granddaughter of Edward Frey — who founded Union Bank in Grand Rapids (now part of JPMorgan Chase) and Foremost Insurance Co. — and as daughter of John Frey, who was chair of the family’s Frey Foundation until 2014. She also was founding executive director of Local First from 2005-06 and director of the Family Business Alliance from 2009-17 — an organization that helps family businesses succeed from generation to generation. As current vice chair and trustee of the Frey Foundation, which had over $154 million in assets in 2019, Frey Zagel now has the opportunity to continue her family’s legacy through the foundation’s investments in enhancing the lives

of children and families, protecting natural resources, promoting the arts and building community. But Frey Zagel hasn’t always been so visible. One of five children, she grew up on the Frey family farm in the small town of Charlevoix, population 4,000, where she learned the virtues of working with her hands, loving the outdoors and treating all people with respect. “We didn’t belong to the country club. We were farmers. It was a very basic life I grew up on, and so a lot of my work ethic and the way I see the world and the way I relate to people was developed very early from my upbringing on the farm,” she said. During her enrollment at Boston University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in international business and economics, Frey Zagel studied abroad in Sydney, Australia, and then after college, she worked in product development in Kampala, Uganda. She also has lived in major cities such as Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Frey Zagel said living outside West Michigan is

something she recommends for everyone. “I just think it’s really important to see how other people live, learn about other cultures and create a global perspective,” she said, noting it allowed her to put her family’s status in context. “My family has a very recognizable last name in western Michigan but not in any other part of the country or the world,” she said.

At the same time, Frey Zagel recognizes that being part of a locally influential and wealthy family has given her certain advantages that she would not otherwise have had, such as discretionary funds for giving. She has been able to work in philanthropy and serve on boards of directors — which often require a financial commitment, whether through personal funds or fundraising — since the age of 15. When she first moved to Grand Rapids in her mid-20s, she was invited to serve on the board of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. “I don’t think I would have had the opportunity if I belonged to a different family,” she said. Frey Zagel said board service over the years has taught her — among many other lessons — how to network and learn from people; how to understand what she’s saying “yes” to, and only saying yes if she can commit her full passion; how to show up and go “all in”; and how to truly listen to others. The latter can be very difficult in a room full of strong feelings, she said. “Oftentimes, we are very passionate about the boards we serve, and it can get emotional. I think that boards need that passion, but in a board meeting … sometimes what happens is our passion is so great that we leave our expertise at the door, which is not what the organization needs.” She said the best board members bring their expertise in law, finance, accounting — whatever the case may be — and they listen, ask good questions, do the legwork and help the organization grow. Frey Zagel also said it’s important for board members to know their limitations in whatever phase of life they’re in, to avoid serving on too many boards at once. In her work as a coach, podcaster and adviser through the firm she started in 2017, Successful Generations, Frey Zagel said she works with leaders to help them avoid burnout so that they can continue to “lead strong.” “The focus on health, wellness and resiliency while leading others is incredibly important,” she said. After over a decade of serving the business community, being a real estate agent with Second Story Properties/CWD Real Estate Investment and working with family businesses, Frey Zagel launched Successful Generations. It started first as a podcast, then morphed into a business that entails speaking engagements, peer groups, a bit of consulting and a lot of coaching “the next generation of family business, family philanthropy and family wealth” to give them “the resources they need to be the leader they want to be.” “I fell in love with leadership coaching. I love my business leaders, I love all aspects of business, quite frankly, but what I was finding is there was something missing in the coaching that I had been receiving. I had fantastic coaches, but they weren’t getting at the heart of my obstacles, of why I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted,” she said. “I found this particular program through The Life Coach

ELLIE FREY ZAGEL Organization: Successful Generations Position: Founder and president Age: 43 Birthplace: Charlevoix Residence: East Grand Rapids Family: Husband, Chad Zagel; son, Steven Zagel Community/Business Involvement: Vice chair and trustee, Frey Foundation; board member, National Center for Family Philanthropy Biggest Career Break: “When I moved to Grand Rapids, I was able to become the first executive director of Local First. I helped create it as a nonprofit, and that was a very powerful experience. I got to meet a lot of small business owners within the community, and through that organization, I really started to fall in love with business.”

School, and through the training that I received, which was very vigorous — as well as the ongoing continuing education that I’m doing weekly — it just is such a superior program that I’m able to translate that into really impacting my clients who are leaders. They’re leaders in their business, leaders in their community, leaders in their family, local leaders and national leaders, and what I’m helping them do … is to help them lead strong no matter what happens in their life and their business.” Frey Zagel said she frequently addresses having the confidence to create your own identity as a leader after taking over the reins from the previous generation. “Often, when you’re transitioning from one generation to the next, there’s an expectation that you’ll lead in a similar way, that you are going to be similar to your predecessor. That can be really damaging. As the next generation, if we are thinking that we need to be just like our mother, father or uncle, that diminishes the value that we bring to the table. And so I help my clients understand that one, they have a lot of value, and two, not everything rests on their shoulders.” She said new leaders often wrestle with thoughts such as, “This is going to fail on my watch,” “I’m completely alone” and “There’s nobody I can turn to,” which creates paralysis and stress. “I help free them up from all of that,” she said. “I help them find their own identity, their own leadership style, their own communication style and their own confidence. “In a family business, every next generation that I know of has the stewardship and legacy of those before us in mind, but you’re also creating your own legacy and shaping the future of the company, which is perhaps not going to look anything like what the previous generation did.” Frey Zagel said she believes everyone is a leader in some way, whether you’re 6 or 60. Knowing that the voice of self-doubt and fear often can intervene in being effective, she does “mindset work” to help people reorient their perspectives on leadership. “If you think, ‘Oh, I can’t be a leader; I don’t have what it takes to be a leader,’ you’re not going to put yourself out there, you’re not going to show up to be a leader to yourself and to others. Really, what we should be saying is, ‘How can I serve? How can I help? What are some of my gifts that I bring to the table? What am I passionate about? How can I make things better? I have ideas. How can I implement them?’” Frey Zagel said after having the opportunity to live, work and speak all over the world, she has learned that West Michigan is a special community. “It has nothing to do with money,” she said. “You can feel the passion and commitment in every generation. … I have never experienced this energy, this passion, this commitment that I have in Grand Rapids. “I want to be respectful because the experience I have had may not be the experience that other people have had, but considering the entrepreneurship that is happening in Grand Rapids, from all walks of life, ... there’s an opportunity to make a difference. There’s an opportunity to affect change. … Do we still have work to do? Absolutely. There are still major problems, like in any community in this country, but instead of ignoring them, we are shining a light on them and trying to do something about it. And that’s just not always the case. “(In West Michigan) it’s really about, ‘Are you giving back? Are you serving in some way? What are you doing to make this community better?’ And that is probably the most powerful thing ever.”



Families must succeed in order for state to succeed


ust prior to the pandemic slamming Michigan, I joined with economic and community development leaders from across the state to call on our state, regional and community leaders to make rising household income for all a pre-eminent priority of state and local economic policies and programs. Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc., and Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage, are the West Michigan co-authors of this call to action. You can find out more about the call to action at risingincomeforall. org To make the case for a rising income for all as a state economic priority we cited data that, despite a strong economy and historically low unemployment rate, showed around four in 10 Michigan households were struggling economically. To us, the data make clear that the pre-eminent reason so many Michigan households struggle to pay for basic necessities is that the economy is producing too many low-wage jobs. This is structural. We are not growing our way out of too many low-wage jobs. Lots of businesses that employ lots of people have business models based on low-wage workers. Michigan’s wages and employer-paid benefits per capita are 14% below the national average. As recently as in 2000, Michigan’s wages and employer-paid benefits per capita were 1% above the national average. Today, 60% of Michigan jobs pay less than $20 an hour. A full 40% pay less than $15 an hour. A $15 or $20 an hour job is fine for

young people working their way through school. However, a majority of jobs in this state are in occupations with a median wage of less than $40,000 a year for a 40-hour week. To put $40,000 in context, the Michigan Association of United Ways calculates the cost of paying for basic necessities in Michigan is $61,272 for a family of two adults with one infant and one preschooler. Then the pandemic and social distancing came to Michigan. You no longer need data to make the case that structurally the Michigan economy has too many of us working in low-wage jobs. Many of those are without health coverage and almost none have paid leave. And because these low-wage workers are struggling to just pay the bills for the necessities, most have little or no savings. Every day in every community in Michigan we are confronted with the reality of the multitude of low-wage workers who have lost their jobs and cannot pay for the basics. And we are more aware now than ever about how much we depend on low-wage workers to get our food and prescription drugs and other daily necessities, as well as all the low-wage workers who are so vital in health care, child care and other caring enterprises. That reality should now make clear to all of us that a vast majority of those struggling economically are hard-working Michiganders. They get up every day and work hard to earn a living. The primary reason for so many struggling is not irresponsible adults coddled by a too-generous public safety net, but rather an economy — even when it

is booming — that has too few jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and provide health coverage and paid leave. To their credit, policymakers in both Washington and Lansing have responded to our collapsing economy by temporarily expanding unemployment and paid leave benefits and are providing households with cash and expanded food assistance to help households pay their bills. All of a sudden off the table are calls to continue to shrink the safety net; impose work requirements to access public benefits; and unemployment benefits that do not cover part-time and gig-economy workers. We need that bi-partisan consensus to continue once the pandemic has passed. This is the prime economic challenge of our times: having an economy that provides family-sustaining jobs — not just any job — so that all working Michigan households can raise a family and pass on a better opportunity to their children. To accomplish that, we need state and regional economic development, community development, housing, and workforce development policies and programs that lead to an economy that both grows and benefits all. We can — and should — debate how to achieve an economy that benefits all. What we should not and cannot ignore is that our economy structurally is leaving too many behind. The first step in solving this problem is to recognize that there is a problem. The second step is to expand the metric of our economy’s success beyond the unemployment rate. It also must in-

clude a focus on a rising household income for all. In order for Michigan to succeed, Michigan’s families need to succeed. As is now crystal clear, far too many of our families have not

been succeeding for far too many years. If they are not succeeding, our state is not succeeding. Lou Glazer is president of Michigan Future Inc.

MI VIEW WEST Garth Kriewall

Michigan journalist,

I’ve always been 100% invested in capitalism, but I’m thinking of reallocating 5% for ventilators and toilet paper.

GUEST COLUMN Ronald Gorman

GRPS applauds Whitmer’s decision to prioritize health, safety


Grand Rapids Public Schools, the health and safety of our students, families, teachers and support staff is our No. 1 priority, which is why I applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for stepping up and making the difficult decision to end face-to-face learning for the remainder of the school year. Although we were hoping we would be back in the classroom this spring, we’ve been preparing for this day and crafting our plan. While this will certainly disrupt learning as we know it for the next several months, rest assured our teachers and staff are prepared to provide the best learning experience possible under these difficult circumstances. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Whitmer has demonstrated clear and decisive leadership, especially in her decision to keep K-12 schools closed for the remainder of the academic year to help slow further spread of the coronavirus.

We also appreciate that Gov. Whitmer has worked with the Legislature to create a consensus approach to this unprecedented situation. The governor’s executive order ensures the continuation of learning by providing guidelines for remote learning and giving us the resources to continue providing instruction to students for the remainder of the school year. Grand Rapids Public Schools is grateful for this invaluable guidance, as well as resources that will allow us to provide instruction and serve student needs for the remainder of the school year. I had hoped to see our students’ smiling faces and their infectious laughter return to our hallways and classrooms this spring, but we know closing our school buildings for the remainder of the school year is the right thing to do to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Grand Rapids Public Schools community. I want to thank our teachers,

support staff, administrators and volunteers for their hard work over the last several weeks to connect with students and provide parents and guardians with resources to help continue their child’s education. If this pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s that great disparities remain in our education system. We are currently working on plans for distance learning that reflect what works best for our students and to ensure learning is appropriate, equitable and accessible for all students and families. Looking ahead to next school year, we are already working with policymakers and legislative leaders to ensure they understand

the importance of addressing the individual needs of our most vulnerable students in next year’s school-aid budget. These students, in particular, face significant challenges to learning during this continuing crisis leading to learning loss. While nothing can replace the value of our teachers working directly with students in our classrooms, we are committed to providing continued learning opportunities for all Grand Rapids Public Schools students while helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

LETTERS POLICY: The Business Journal welcomes letters to the editor and guest commentary. Letters and columns must include the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the philosophy

of the Business Journal. Letters and columns may be edited for reasons of space or clarity. Please submit to: The Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal, 401 Hall St. SW, Suite 331, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or email

Ronald Gorman, Ph.D., is interim superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools.

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How a liquidity strategy can keep you steady during a volatile market


good long-term investment strategy means staying the course when times get tough. With an up-and-down market, unexpected changes can cause stress and lead to poor decision-making. While it’s critical to focus on the long term when it comes to investments, a liquidity strategy — which is designed to provide short-term cash flow and act as a buffer against financial distress — is equally important during a volatile market. It doesn’t take much for a financial challenge to arise — maybe a failed business venture, unexpected medical bills or a drop in the stock market. But with a liquidity strategy in place, you can help mitigate this risk and maintain your lifestyle in the short term until you get back on your feet. How do you ensure you’re able to focus on liquidity during turbulent times? With a little bit of planning, you can create a lasting strategy that can help

meet your needs. Understand your expenses An essential first step is knowing how much you spend each month. You probably have a general estimate of your necessary bills: mortgage, food and utilities. But go beyond those and understand the amount of money you’d need each month to keep living comfortably over a period of months or even years. This number can serve as a base and allows you to take a critical eye to your expenses. Note what could get cut, if necessary, when you’re facing financial hardship. Start with an emergency fund Typically, emergency funds cover approximately three to six months of expenses. However, this doesn’t always take into account ever-changing, real-life factors. Take unemployment, for example. Fluctuations in the labor market and desired skill sets

have the potential to extend a job search. Thus, having four months of expenses might not cover your needs. In an ideal world, your emergency fund should offer you a margin of safety that will allow you to hold on to your current portfolio assets and give you the cushion you need to ride out volatility. Up to a year’s worth of expenses in an emergency fund can cover the needs of most people. After retirement, one way to provide a cushion during down times is to have a stable cash flow to pay your expenses. A liquidity strategy can help. It can include income from Social Security, pensions and annuities and, if those sources don’t fully cover your expenses, part of your portfolio as well. Consider holding enough assets in your liquidity strategy to help cover anywhere from two to five years’ worth of expenses, depending on what your needs are. In general, your liquidity strat-

egy should be sufficiently sized to provide the cash flow you need during a bear market so you won’t have to sell equities or significantly change your goals and objectives during a downturn. Investigate your borrowing ability While it’s not always recommended to turn to debt in difficult times, there are conditions when this might be unavoidable. So you need to know that you can borrow in case of emergency. Borrowing against a portfolio or relying on a home equity loan isn’t considered part of a liquidity strategy in general. However, accessing a line of credit can provide the cushion needed to make it through stretches of volatility when a short-term cash influx could prove useful. Avoid panicking Emotions can often take over during times of anxiety, and a volatile market is a stressful time. These

situations make it easy to panic and sell during bear markets, or worry that your current investments will become depleted, especially if you’re in retirement. Avoiding impulse decisions Sticking with your long-term investment strategy is imperative. It’s often during bear markets when potential investment opportunities appear. Position yourself to capitalize on them for the future. Stay the course Markets are unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean your investment strategy has to be. Planning for every stage of your financial journey can help you manage tough times with a clear head and give you confidence that you’ve made the right decisions — both for the short and long term. Michael Toth is senior vice president of wealth management for UBS Financial Services Inc.

Farmers adapt to changing markets COVID-19 7 Continued from page 1 cialty crop state — from greenhouses and nurseries to cherries, dry beans, apples and asparagus — Michigan grows it all. MDARD supports the idea of a Produce Stabilization Program. •Livestock: With consumer demand down, difficulty getting labor and multiple processing facilities closing, the beef, lamb, pork, and poultry industries are facing increased pressure to stay in business. MDARD is asking for increased market access, possible emergency federal loan assistance and direct payments to producers. •Farmer specific need: MDARD is asking for temporary flexibility on farm loans recently announced by USDA’s Farm Service Agency to be made permanent for the duration of the pandemic response and subsequent economic recovery. ALM is specifically asking the USDA to intervene with a comprehensive plan that ensures farmers survive the pandemic by supporting a financial safety net, improving existing nutrition programs to address food insecurity and maximizing international food aid, he said. Mary Kelpinski, CEO for the Michigan Pork Producers Association, said farmers still are raising pigs, although there has always been a labor shortage at processing plants. Now, she said, COVID-19 has added to that labor shortage. “The plants are clean, and it is

not anything that the employees are picking up at the work environment, but it is what they are picking up from the person next to them,” she said. “Some of the plant workers have got COVID-19, others have had to stay home because their kids aren’t in school anymore so someone has to watch the kids, or they might be taking care of someone who is at home and is sick. So those three things combined have really (created) a shortage of employees being able to work at processing plants.” In addition to labor shortage, the pork and dairy industries have seen their markets dwindle. Kelpinski said there is a large supply of hogs and the loss of food services such as restaurants, commercial kitchens, colleges and schools have negatively impacted the pork industry because food services require a different specification for the type of meat they provide. “When you go to the grocery stores, which is retail, you can pick up a one-pound package of bacon, but for food services, they don’t want a one-pound package of bacon, they want a 10-pound package of bacon and they want it laid out so they can put a sheet of it in the oven to cook it,” she said. “So, it is a completely different packaging than what we get in the grocery stores and that is a part of the problem, too, because some of the products that go through the processing plant are cut with specifications for

food services so it can’t go to the retail stores. Food services account for about a third of the pork that is produced.” Kelpinski said retail is doing extremely well, however, and they’ve seen grocery store volumes up significantly because people are staying home. She said sales to the retail sector have increased approximately 78%. The Michigan Milk Producers Association is a dairy farmerowned cooperative serving approximately 1,300 dairy farmers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin. It operates two manufacturing plants in Michigan and a cheese plant in Indiana. According to Joe Diglio, president and CEO for MMPA, as warmer temperatures approach in the spring, milk production increases with the favorable weather and the dairy industry enters what it calls “spring flush.” He said farms in Michigan produced nearly 11.4 billion pounds of milk, or around 1.3 billion gallons of milk in 2019. However, like the pork industry, the dairy industry, which also produces cheese, butter, ice cream and milk powder, among other things, heavily depends on food services. The decline in food service sales has not been offset by the increase in retail sales. Diglio said market analysts estimate that half of all butter and cheese in the country is consumed in food service establishments. “Milk is a perishable product

and needs to be processed in a timely manner once it leaves the farm,” he said. “Many processors that supply food service markets have had to reduce or change their production schedules. Meanwhile, some processing plants that produce retail products are adapting to a surge in demand. Overall, supply exceeds demand by at least 10% around the country and this gap may continue to widen as the stayat-home orders across the country continue.” The downturn in the dairy commodity prices have resulted in a direct impact on the amount local dairy farmers are paid. Because the food service market has been diminished due to COVID-19, ALM would like some of the similar assurances Perdue is pushing for, but some of their demands are different: •Massive, immediate pork purchases by the USDA of $1 billion to supplement food bank and other feeding programs, including accommodation for pork products packaged for the food services market. •Equitable direct payments to producers, addressing all market participants (i.e., those who own hogs and those who care for them). •A quick agreement prompting China to lift its punitive tariffs on U.S. pork and accelerating pork exports to the world’s largest porkconsuming nation and helping China meet its phase one commitments to the United States.

Community foundation launches loan program 7 Continued from page 3 the CFHZ and chairperson of Metal Flow Corporation, said the LOC “is a combination of the ability for us to utilize the flexible assets of the community’s endowment to respond to the changing needs of our community and the ingenuity of CFHZ to provide innovative solutions to serve our community in its time of need.” Added Goorhouse: “Our goal is to hopefully not lose too much nonprofit capacity during this crisis so we can come out the other side and still have strong

nonprofits.” Additional specifications of the Line of Credit Guarantee Program through WMCB: It is a three-year, interest-only LOC, meaning the nonprofit only has to pay interest during the three-year term, but the full amount of principal and interest must be paid off by the nonprofit by the end of the third year. The LOC has a floating interest rate of the current prime rate with a floor of 4%. This means the interest rate will be 4% unless the prime interest rate goes above 4% (it is currently at 3.25%).

WMCB has waived all loan origination and closing fees. The nonprofit can draw on the LOC throughout the first two years, but the third year of the LOC is for repayment only. The dollars from the LOC can be used for any operational expenses but cannot be used for capital-related expenses, such as facility improvement. Applicants should check with CFHZ if they are unsure if a specific expense is considered a capital expense. In addition to guaranteeing the LOC, CFHZ will provide reimbursement to the nonprofit for all

interest the nonprofit has paid on the LOC during the first two years, up to 4% per year. During the third year the LOC is open, CFHZ will not reimburse interest costs paid by the nonprofit. Applications are due Friday, April 24. Goorhouse said this is not meant to limit applications; it is the foundation’s attempt to get the lines of credit established quickly to provide the greatest possible benefit to participating organizations. Full eligibility guidelines and details for how to apply are at

can mask other health problems 7 Continued from page 3 occurrence locally. “Hopefully, that will persist,” Heiser said. “You can markedly influence the risk of a heart attack if you come to the hospital, and some of these complications are quite rare when heart attacks are treated in the usual way.” Spectrum Health recently published a statement saying COVID-19 also can do alarming damage to the heart. According to study from JAMA Cardiology, one out of five patients with COVID-19 suffer heart damage, which can lead to further risk for people with a preexisting condition. Dr. David Wohns, division chief of cardiology for Spectrum Health, said patients with cardiovascular disease should make sure they are current with available vaccinations, including the pneumococcal vaccine, as well as follow CDC guidelines regarding sanitation and proper social distancing. “For people with underlying heart conditions, the infection can be more serious with a greater chance of hospitalization and even death,” Wohns said. “This is especially true for those over 65 years of age with coronary disease or hypertension.” Wohns agreed with Heiser’s concern that not getting immediate treatment for heart-related symptoms can result in long-term consequences or even death. “My recommendation is that any person with prior heart disease or at risk of heart disease who is experiencing chest symptoms or shortness of breath reach out to their primary care physician or cardiovascular provider for guidance as soon as possible,” Wohns said. Spectrum Health Now, the group’s virtual treatment option, also is available for heart patients not experiencing a need for immediate care and who wish to stay home to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19.

Change-Ups & Calendar 12 GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL APRIL 20, 2020

ARCHITECTURE & ENGINEERING Benton Harbor-based Wightman has hired Ashley Sonnevil as a human resources generalist based in its Kalamazoo office and Catherine West as an administrative assistant at its Benton Harbor office.


Muskegon-based Lakeshore Museum Center has made its collection available for viewing virtually at The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has unveiled an online presentation of the annual Young Artists of Kalamazoo County exhibition. A virtual tour can be found here: VirtualYoungArtistsExhibit.


Kalamazoo-based Consumers Credit Union announced the additions of mortgage loan officers Heather Chapin in the Grandville office, Zach Cook in the Cascade office and Holly Madill for the Kalamazoo market out of the corporate call center; business development managers Sandy Bloem along the lakeshore, Ed Case in Consumers’ Kalamazoo market and Matthew Hunt in Consumers’ Kalamazoo market; and Petrea Shumacher as compliance and risk manager at Consumers’ headquarters.


of groceries and pantry staples for two to four people. Available to customers 21-plus who order online via: CCSAboxes. Pick-up for the CCSA boxes are available on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Eastern Kille Distillery for the first time earned a gold award for its four-year bottled-in-bond bourbon and a silver award for its four-year aged rum at the 20th annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Eastern Kille’s bourbon was among only four bourbons in the craft distillery whiskey category to receive a gold level award and the only from Michigan.


Long Road Distillers recently won two gold medals for Long Road Aquavit and Long Road Raspberry Liqueur and silver medals for its Long Road Grand Absinthe, Long Road Amaro Pazzo and Long Road Old Aquavit, and bronze medals for Long Road Rum, Long Road Nocino and Long Road Apple Brandy at the 2020 American Craft Spirits Awards, presented by the American Craft Spirits Association.


Coppercraft Distillery in Holland was the only Michigan-based distillery awarded Double Gold for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Virtue Cider offers CCSA boxes — cider- and community-supported agriculture boxes — for local pick-up from its farm in Fennville. The weekly offering includes roughly a week’s worth

Romeo now working for alma mater Beth Romeo is working for her alma mater. She recently was hired as Olivet College’s new senior director of alumni engagement and annual giving. Romeo brings years of experience in public and community relations, fundraising, communications and marketing to the role. She previously served Local Initiatives Support Corporation in Kalamazoo as a program officer where she managed external communications, including annual reports and social media, fund development initiatives and federal grant awards.

Editor’s note: The coronavirus response has affected many public gatherings. Please check organizations’ websites for the latest event information.

Learning Lab, 272 E. 8th St., Holland. Cost: free, complimentary lunch provided. Information/registration: keegan@west

APR 21 Muskegon Chamber of Commerce 2020 Luncheon Lessons in Leadership. Noon-1 p.m., Tanglewood Park, 560 Seminole Road, Norton Shores. Cost: $15. Information/registration:

APR 28 iChiro Free Massage Workshop. Learn trigger point massage. iChiro Clinics, 6-7:15 p.m., 6690 Crossings Drive SE, Suite A. RSVP required by calling (616) 656-1830.

APR 21 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan The Future of Work Webinar. Topic: “Entrepreneurs in the Changing Economy,” by Attah Obande, director of dream fulfillment, SpringGR. 6:307:30 p.m. Information/registration: world

APR 28 Wedgwood Christian Services Hosts State of the Child Panel Discussion and Breakfast. Topics will address the well-being of depressed children and teens through in-depth discussion with local students and community experts. 7:30-10 a.m., Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE. Cost: $25/person, $15/students, $200/ reserved table of 8. Information/registration:

APR 22 Muskegon Chamber of Commerce STAR! Certification Training. A onetime class about Muskegon’s history, upcoming events, local resources, new developments and more. 1-5 p.m., West Michigan Works!, 316 Morris Ave., Suite 100, Muskegon. Information/registration: (231) 722-3751 or APR 22 West Michigan Environmental Action Council Blue Tie Ball. This virtual event is celebrating 50 years of Earth Day. 6-10 p.m., City View, 401 Hall St. SW. Information/registration: bluetieball/. APR 23 Jennifer Maxson & Associates Virtual Workshop. Topic: Be Bright. Be Brief. Be Gone. Learn to craft clear, concise, focused messages using a proven planning tool. 9-10:30 a.m. Cost: $50. Information/registration: jennifermax APR 24 Grand Haven/Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Chamber of Commerce 6th Annual Purse Party/Live, Silent Auction, benefiting Camp Courage. 1-3 p.m., 1204 S. Lake St., Whitehall. Information/registration: APR 24 Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce Membership Orientation Lunch. Focus: Maximize Your Membership: The Benefits of Chamber Membership. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce

APR 28 World Affairs Council of Western Michigan The Future of Work Series Webinar. Topic: “Working Together for Growth in West Michigan: Industry and Education,” by Bill Pink, president, Grand Rapids Community College. 6:307:30 p.m. Information/registration: world APR 28 Wyoming Business Leaders Meeting. 8-9 a.m., Marge’s Donut Den, 1751 28th St. SW, Wyoming. Information/registration: 616-261-4500, or d.kuba@instantcashmi. com. MAY 6 Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce Business Networking and Beers. 5-8 p.m., Ganders Restaurant, 4747 28th St. Free admission. Information/registration: events/266289082/. MAY 3-13 Access of West Michigan Walk For Good Food Fundraiser to support nonprofit organizations that address issues of food access and poverty. Participants encouraged to walk individually due to pandemic. Information/registration: MAY 4 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Breakfast With Legislators. 7:30-9 a.m., Gordon Food Service, 1300 Gezon Parkway

Kent County Community Action recently conducted a food distribution event that assisted more than 900 households struggling to meet their food needs due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The food packages included fresh apples and oranges, canned vegetables and fruits, egg noodles, macaroni, pork, fish and more. Community Mental Health of Ottawa County provides services by appointment or through telehealth. Call Access Center at (616) 393-5681; the 24-hour mental health crisis line is (866) 5124357. HealthWest hosts free daily virtual groups including smart recovery substance use recovery meetings, daily talk sessions that allow individuals to connect directly with mental health professionals, discussions on skills to help cope with the stress and anxiety related to the COVID-19 crisis and fun activities to allow participants to engage with others. The groups will be hosted virtually on Zoom and Facebook Live. You can follow HealthWest on Facebook @HealthWestMuskegon. Visit Hope Network has increased its telehealth options for some of its services, including mental health. Current Hope Network patients can contact their provider to see what telehealth options are available; people who are not Hope Network patients can call (833) 9032280 to get information on what services are available. The Center for Physical Rehabilitation and Therapy continues to provide patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic via the video conferencing technology, which provides patients with full access physical therapy appointments from their homes. In addition to screening all patients for

SW, Wyoming. Information/registration: MAY 5 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce West Michigan Minority Contractors After Hours. 4-6 p.m., Grand Rapids Chamber, 250 Monroe NW, Suite 150. Information/registration: MAY 6 Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce Business Virtual Networking & Beers. Buy a drink item and food item from a local establishment and then tag the business along with Business Networking and Beers in a post on the event page. 5-8 p.m., Zoom link. Information/registration: VirtualBusinessBeers. MAY 11 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Workshop. Topic: Business Growth Series. 1-3 p.m., Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, 250 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 150. Information/registration: grandrapids. org/. MAY 11 Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce Government Matters @ City Hall — with Elected Officials. 8-9 a.m., Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Road SE. Information/registration: (616) 531-5990 or MAY 12 Jennifer Maxson & Associates Workshop, “Speak Up and Be Effective.” Craft messages that are clear, concise and focused. Cost: $680/person, $600/ person for two people, same program and date. Information/registration: (616) 8836458 or info@jennifermaxsonassociates. com. MAY 13 Women In Successful Enterprises Webinar. Topic: “Creating The Habit of Priority: Identifying Key Priorities that Make the Largest Impact on Professional Lives.” 4:30 p.m. Cost: free. Information/registration: wiseconnections. org/. MAY 13-14 Jennifer Maxson & Associates Workshop, The Exceptional Leader: Lead The Business, Lead Change, Lead People! Differentiate the roles of leaders and managers. Cost: $3,500/person, $2,900/person for two people, same pro-

symptoms before entering the clinic, the center has reduced staff levels and spaced treatment tables beyond the required six-foot social distancing restriction. Private treatment rooms also are available to eliminate crossover foot traffic.

State University where he majored in communications, with an emphasis in advertising and public relations, and also attended Davenport University for supervisory management.

Wedgwood Christian Services announced it is offering outpatient and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy via telehealth to adults, teens, children and families. For more information, and to set up an initial appointment, call (616) 942-7294.

Kalamazoo-based Fabri-Kal announced its company’s technical center, as well as Schupan & Sons and Tekna, went from prototype to production on face shields that will be provided to workers treating patients impacted by the coronavirus. The first batch of face shields is planned for health care facilities located in southwest Michigan.



MomsBloom, a postpartum support nonprofit, now offers virtual, nonjudgmental support from trained volunteers. For more information, go to


Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network have waived all member copays, deductibles and coinsurance for COVID-19 testing and treatment. The coverage applies to commercial PPO, Medicare Advantage PPO and HMO plans.


The West Michigan Tourist Association provides the following outdoor activities to ward off cabin fever while practicing social distancing: W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, grounds open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. to hike trails; Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek; Sarett Nature Center in Benton Harbor; Charlevoix’s many acres of parks can be found at bit. ly/CharlevoixParks; Grand Rapids’ Blandford Nature Center’s trails, habitats, and green spaces; Robinette’s trails at; Historic Charlton Park in Hastings commission grounds, trails and recreational areas remain open; Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings trails are open dawn to dusk; and Ottawa County Parks:

NAI Global announced Stu Kingma, of NAI Wisinski of West Michigan, was recognized in its annual recognition program as a top 10 producer for the organization.


The Christian Reformed Church in North America have postponed an upgrade for the CRCNA Kingma office building at 1700 28th St. SE due to the COVID19 outbreak and resulting economic downturn. In October 2019 the Council of Delegates approved to remodel and repurpose the acreage of the Grand Rapids facility, with costs not to exceed $11.7 million. The CRCNA offices sit on about 13 acres of land, and the current facility has about 130,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. A review of current staff needs showed that the CRCNA now requires only about 90,000 of this square footage.

JetCo Federal announced the addition of Stu McLean as a supply chain specialist. McLean procures materials for the manufacturing and shipment of final products. He attended Grand Valley

CHANGE-UPS POLICY: The Business Journal welcomes submissions to the Change-Ups section. Send announcements concerning personnel changes, new businesses, changes of address etc. to Change-Ups Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal, 401 Hall St. SW, Suite 331, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or email

gram and date. Information/registration: (616) 883-6458 or info@jennifermax

Noon-1 p.m., Baker College, 1903 Marquette Ave., Muskegon. Cost: $15. Information/registration:

MAY 14 Acton Institute Lecture Series. Topic: “From Logos to Entitlement And Back Again,” by Samuel Gregg, director of research, Acton Institute. Noon-1 p.m., Acton Institute, 98 E. Fulton St. Free live stream also available. Information/registration:

MAY 20 Massey Insurance Auto Reform Community Discussion. Topic: Changes To Michigan Auto No Fault Insurance. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Massey Insurance, 5384 S. Division, Kentwood. Snacks provided. Information/registration: (616) 532-6071.


MAY 14 Division Avenue Business Association Meeting. 8-9 a.m., Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille, 4157 S. Division. Information/registration:

MAY 26 Wyoming Business Leaders Meeting. 8-9 a.m., Marge’s Donut Den, 1751 28th St. SW, Wyoming. Information/registration: 616-261-4500 or d.kuba@instant

MAY 14 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Business Exchange Luncheon. 11:30 a.m.1:30 p.m., Bluff Banquet & Conference Center, 2035 28th St., SE, Suite 5. Information/registration:

MAY 28 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce West Michigan Minority Contractors Meeting. Noon, Grand Rapids Chamber, 250 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 150. Information/registration:

MAY 14 Grand Rapids Young Professionals Professional Development Workshop Focusing on Leadership. 5:30-7:30 p.m., Kids’ Food Basket, 1300 Plymouth Ave. NE. Information/registration:

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS Information: Stephanie Bradley, (616) 233-3577 or sbradley@experiencegr. com.

MAY 15 The Right Place Oceana County Economic Alliance 2020 Annual Community Leaders Breakfast. 7:309:30 a.m., Oceana County Council on Aging Center, 4250 W. Tyler Road, Hart. Cost: $25/person. Information/registration: MAY 18 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Engagement Series. Topic: Tackling Poverty. 3:15-4:30 p.m., Grand Rapids Chamber, 250 Monroe NW, Suite 150. Information/registration: grandrapids. org. MAY 19 Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Business Insights Program. Connecting people with those running successful businesses/organizations. 7:30-9 a.m., Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, 250 Monroe NW, Suite 150. Information/registration: MAY 19 Muskegon Chamber of Commerce 2020 Luncheon Lessons in Leadership.

CALENDAR POLICY: The Business Journal welcomes submissions to the calendar section. Send items to Calendar Editor, Grand Rapids Business Journal, 401 Hall St. SW, Suite 331, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 or email bjcalendar@grbj. com. Submissions must be received at least three weeks prior to the event. The Business Journal calendar posted on the publication’s website ( includes listings for events extended beyond those printed in the weekly publication that are limited by space restrictions.



20-00757 – MENEFEE, Dennis S., P.O. Box 41, Cedar Springs, Thomas Baynton (Ch. 7) 20-00767 – GRUDIC, Rifet, 4150 Sand Piper SE, Jeremy Shephard (Ch. 7) 20-00772 – CHATEL, Andrew M., 2490 19 Mile, Kent City, Rebecca L. Johnson-Ellis (Ch. 13) 20-00777 – DEDEAUX, Clarice R., P.O. Box 7271, Greg J. Ekdahl (Ch. 7) 20-00782 – PETTREY, Zachary J., 2106 E. Whyndham Hill Drive, Michael M. Malinowski (Ch. 7) 20-00786 – SHANGLE, Rebecca K., 11350 Fruitridge NW, Sparta, Michael M. Malinowski (Ch. 7) 20-00803 – CARPENTER, Donald C. Jr., 6507 S. Division, Martin L. Rogalski (Ch. 13) 20-00806 – BOWMAN, Ebony T., 1921 Ridgewood SE, Jacob T. Tighe (Ch. 7)


Selected mortgages filed with Kent County Register of Deeds DANE, Erik et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 410902201029, $342,500 STEWART, Douglas, Success Mortgage Partners, Parcel: 411915156008, $278,910 MITCHELL, Shirley et al, Allen Edwin Home Builders LLC, Parcel: 410421200016, $288,440 HUNGERFORD, Bruce F. et al, Quicken Loans,

Parcel: 411427402001, $280,000 MACCALISTER HOLDINGS LLC, Community Choice Credit Union, Parcel: 411824478020, $325,000 SIDEBOTHAM, Larry et al, AAC Credit Union, Parcel: 411914226011, $465,000 VERMEULEN, Derek J., Chemical Bank, Parcel: 411430477009, $670,000 KONING INVESTMENTS LLC I et al, United Bank, Parcel: 412307227008, $750,000 STRATFORD ARMES PROPERTIES LLC, United Bank, Parcel: 411430451002, $1,233,000 JONES, Sheila et al, Consumers Credit Union, Parcel: 411433430008, $336,000 ALAWWA, Hedille et al, UIF Corp., Parcel: 411425102012, $400,000 T BOSGRAAF HOMES LLC, Chemical Bank, Parcel: 411927231020, $336,600 VAIRET, Benoit et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411618400021, $296,637 DELZER, Mark E. et al, Independent Bank, Parcel: 411731376020, $552,000 MARTINEZ, Nancy et al, Consumers Credit Union, Parcel: 412110478006, $332,500 DK HOMES LLC, United Bank, Parcel: 412115154029, $346,339 ELLIS, Michael S. Jr. et al, Keller Mortgage, Parcel: 411434453023, $820,000 KAMAK VI LLC, Fifth Third Bank, Parcel: 412205476047, $500,000 KASBOHM, Gregory K. et al, Lake Michigan

Credit Union, Parcel: 410720200062, $526,500 JOHN, Mahyra L., Adventure Credit Union, Parcel: 412111324005, $396,000 GILBERTSON, Matthew et al, Federal Savings Bank, Parcel: 410814402006, $285,822 DU, Yang et al, Team Mortgage Co. LLC, Parcel: 412208278017, $290,000 SHANKIN, David J. et al, Grand River Bank, Parcel: 411403375081, $332,910 STILLWATER DEVELOPMENT LLC, United Bank, Parcel: 411110201010, $334,400 MALTA, Chiles et al, Comerica Bank, Parcel: 411531227053, $364,000 VANDERBAAN, Daniel et al, TCF National Bank, Parcel: 411531126107, $495,600 COPEMAN, Jarred, Wells Fargo Bank, Parcel: 411433102019, $289,576 BUSSELL TRUST, Huntington National Bank, Parcel: 411129226002, $695,000 3J CONNECT LLC, Community Choice Credit Union, Parcel: 411807103006, $288,000 ZAHIROVIC, Sandin, Neighborhood Loans Inc., Parcel: 411834382002, $276,365 BELLAH, Jill et al, Mortgage 1, Parcel: 411120200029, $358,237 LANGSSCHIED, Jason et al, Eastbrook Homes, Parcel: 412017140005, $439,379 SMOCK, Faith et al, Bank of America, Parcel: 411915255017, $315,000 IRIVING, Cynthia C. et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 411915426010,

$330,000 HANE, Mike D. et al, Fifth Third Bank, Parcel: 412217308022, $288,750 SCOTT, Jacob et al, Lake Michigan Credit Union, Parcel: 412301380009, $607,500 WIERTZEMA, Ryan et al, Fifth Third Bank, Parcel: 410635228017, $336,500


Co-partnerships filed with the Kent County Clerk DIVINE MAID SERVICE, 7640 Myers Lake Ave., Rockford, Therese Kwiatkowski, Scott Kwiatkowski TNC PAINTING, 1933 Pinecroft Lane, Wyoming, Troy Cullin, Nicole Cullin


Assumed names filed with the Kent County Clerk ALMONDROD TOYS, 1324 Sprucewood NW, Lindsey Sanders BEN TERPSTRA, 4237 Ivanrest SW, Grandville, Benjamin Terpstra BRADLEY VENDING, 2295 Rogue River NE, Belmont, Gerald S. Lebay CONTINUOUS CURRENCY, 3080 Creek Drive SE, Kentwood, Raven T. Moss DAVE’S CONCRETE, 1643 Aberdeen NE, Brian Dykema ENCORE DJ, 2091 Brindle, Hudsonville, Lance C. Kosty

GILBERTO NAVAR DIAZ JR., 1215 Hudson SW, Gilberto Navar Diaz Jr. HD WINDOW CLEANING GR, 3117 Waterford NE, Joseph F. White KRISTINA SCHELLENBERG CLEANING SERVICE, 1065 Maybelle NE, Kristina D. Schellenberg LITTLE MAMMA’S ULTIMATE DESSERT AND SNACK TRUCK, 4010 Timberland SE, Riley C. Carey LYNNY NAILS, 3163 28th St. SE, Duy L. Tran MARCELINO’S PAINTING, 740 Lynch SW, Jorge Marcelino MARK A. BROWN CUSTOM BUILDING, 6681 Boca Vista NE, Rockford, Mark A. Brown TOKA’MOTA TRANSPORTATION, 3878 Yorkland NW, Comstock Park, Dominic A. Rodriguez

PUBLIC RECORD AVAILABLE ONLINE: For this week’s Public Record, visit the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s

Coalition coordinates aid to child care centers 7 Continued from page 1 County Shared Services Alliance Project, Kent ISD and Talent 2025, as well as First Steps Kent. Valdez said these key players had already been working to address the region’s child care crisis for several years, but the pandemic sharply heightened the need for help. The crisis response team got to work immediately to determine how many child care spaces were needed (about 800 and counting), which child care centers and inhome providers were staying open and how many kids they could accept. In many cases, providers have welcomed new children who were typically in school all day or whose regular care had closed. After its formation, the team conducted a survey of about 85 child care centers that made clear that due to their long hours on the job, the providers were not able to make it to stores during the reduced open hours, and they weren’t included in groups that received special designated shopping hours. This meant by the time they could get to a store, they were greeted by shelves bare of

critical supplies. The Kent County Shared Services Alliance Project helped secure a bulk order of basic goods — cleaning supplies, paper products and food staples — to deliver to those child care providers who were running low, so that they

fill out an intake form if they need child care, at essential. The organization also included comments from one provider on its website. Ordinarily, Charlotte Lukasiewicz takes care of six infants and

“I’m appreciative of all the frontline essential workers, but (child care workers), they say they feel invisible, and it’s because when anything is mentioned in the news media or by the governor, it (is) about everyone else but them. I think people just take it for granted that they’re there, but they are not mentioned, so they feel invisible.” Annemarie Valdez could continue to follow sanitation protocols and stay in business. Although the crisis response team did not disclose a list of child care providers that are staying open during the pandemic, First Steps Kent provided a link for parents who are essential workers to

toddlers every day from her homebased day care in Grandville. Now, only two of those children are there on a part-time basis. But she believes she is doing her part to help during COVID-19. “I think it’s important to be able to do what we can do and be

City matching funds for neighborhood COVID-19 projects 7 Continued from page 5 mal groups and nonprofits. Submissions should address COVID-19 community resiliency, wellness, safety and basic needs for Grand Rapids residents who, due to structural inequities, are most vulnerable to exposure and/


For example, an NMF contract for $500 could be matched with $100 worth of volunteer labor, $300 of in-kind/ donated materials and a $100 cash donation from a local business or from a grant in the case of nonprofits.

or negative economic impact related to the pandemic. Project implementation must align with COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and all local, state and federal executive orders in place at the time of the project. All are encouraged to be creative and intentional with the design and implementation of their projects. The next two rounds of NMF awards will include contracts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the scope of work. All NMF-funded projects must be led or co-led by a Grand Rapids resident. Past NMF contracts were capped at $2,500. The award amount depends on the funding requested, project scope, alignment with NMF objectives and NMF balance. Winners must spend the NMF dollars during a six-month contract period and also must match the amount awarded. For example, an NMF contract for $500 could be matched with

$100 worth of volunteer labor, $300 of in-kind/donated materials and a $100 cash donation from a local business or from a grant in the case of nonprofits. The city reviews project submissions for completion and alignment to NMF objectives. Awardees will meet with NMF staff by phone to create a shared understanding on project scope and discuss strategies for intentional and inclusive project outreach and impact. The Neighborhood Match Fund regularly awards contracts with local residents organizing projects and opportunities that bring neighbors together to learn, build relationships and celebrate community. Those interested can submit a project idea at

open to help families that need it,” she told First Steps Kent. She said she is grateful to everyone supporting child care workers during this crisis, and she believes one of the best ways to do so is to follow orders and stay home if you don’t need to be out. Valdez said she is calling child care workers “unsung heroes” during this time. “I’m appreciative of all the frontline essential workers, but these folks, they say they feel invisible, and it’s because when anything is mentioned in the news media or by the governor, it (is) about everyone else but them. I think people just take it for granted that they’re there, but they are not mentioned, so they feel invisible.” Valdez said the Kent Child Care Crisis Response Team is still working on centralizing its coordination to be able to answer community members’ questions, like, “How can I help?” or “What can I donate and where?” She said the group has ties to Heart of West Michigan United Way, so that might be one avenue they will pursue in terms of a place to direct relief dollars. Ready by Five update First Steps Kent is perhaps best known for its work in securing the $7.6 million Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage funding to provide new or expanded early childhood services in Kent County. Valdez said the start date of the millage funds was March 2, so many of the programs were just getting up and running and hiring staff. When the stay-at-home order was issued, suddenly, they had to figure out how to train the new

employees while working from home, as well as figuring out how to do virtual home visits and playand-learns and offer social work support. “These organizations were very clever and stepped right up to meeting the changed need,” Valdez said. “Some of those funds went for what we call a more traditional home-visiting program, but because we know that parents are home with their children, it ended up being a good thing if the home visitor gives a call or can do some FaceTime with the family. To have an activity to do with your young one is really essential right now when families are afraid, they’re dealing with a lot of information, and their stress levels are high.” For families who are not in a socioeconomic position to have home computer or internet access, program providers are doing phone check-ins, Valdez said. As administrator of the Ready by Five funds, First Steps Kent is working with the Kent County administrator’s office to ensure there is no stoppage in millage payments, allowing virtual programming to continue through the crisis and ensuring the expanded in-person services will be ready once life returns to normal, the organization said on its website. “It is as important as it has always been that children are healthy, developmentally on track and ready to learn,” said Heather Boswell, COO for First Steps Kent. “We are grateful to our partners at Kent County and all the organizations that receive Ready by Five funds for their commitment to supporting our community’s youngest children during this unprecedented and difficult time.”


Retail sales bottom out Home health. BUSINESS JOURNAL STAFF


etail sales saw their biggest monthly drop on record during March as the coronavirus pandemic forced restaurants, bars and many stores to temporarily close across the nation and stay-at-home orders also impacted gasoline sales, the National Retail Federation said. But sales soared at grocery stores and were up at other retailers deemed “essential” as well, offsetting some of the decline. “COVID-19 has hit the retail industry unevenly,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This is a market of haves and have-nots. The haves are the stores that remain open with lines out the doors to buy daily necessities, while the have-nots are the stores that have closed and are taking the brunt of the impact of the pandemic. These numbers should come as no surprise given the mandated shutdown of our economy to slow the spread of the virus.” He said the worst may be yet to come. “March was a month that started out with many stores still open, but far more are closed now,” Kleinhenz said. “Don’t be surprised if the data going forward shows a worsening situation. Even if the economy begins to reopen in May, consumer behavior may take a long time to adjust. The road to recovery could be long and slow.” The U.S. Census Bureau said that overall retail sales during

March were down 8.7% seasonally adjusted from February and down 6.2% unadjusted year-over-year. The monthly drop is the largest ever recorded, exceeding a 4.3% decline in November 2008 during the Great Recession. The bureau said it believed the reliability of its data had not changed “substantially,” despite the fact that many retailers whose businesses were closed were not in the office to reply to its monthly survey of sales results. But it acknowledged that retailers’ “ability to provide accurate, timely information to Census may be limited.” NRF’s calculation of retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants in order to focus on core retail — showed March was up 1.7% seasonally adjusted from February and up 4.5% unadjusted year-over-year. The difference between the Census Bureau and NRF numbers is because the categories NRF excludes saw some of the biggest hits. In addition to bars and restaurants being closed, gasoline sales were affected both by fewer people driving and lower gas prices while auto dealers were among those affected by stay-at-home orders. Clothing stores saw the biggest decline among categories counted by both NRF and the Census Bureau, with sales down 50.5% from February, while furniture store

sales were down 26.8% and sporting goods stores were down 23.3%. But grocery store sales were up 25.6%, general merchandise stores — which include warehouse clubs that sell both food and essential household products — were up 6.4%, and health and personal care stores, which include pharmacies, were up 4.3%. With more people turning to ecommerce, online and other non-store sales were up 3.1%. Going all in As a restaurant supplier that makes to-go ware, Budget Branders has seen the devastating effects that the global pandemic has had on the restaurant industry and is jumping in to help. The industry that employed about 15.3 million Americans in January is now down by over 3 million jobs, about 3% of all U.S. restaurants have been forced to permanently close due to the coronavirus, and another 11% will likely close within the next 30 days, according to statistics cited by the company. “We’ve been left heartbroken watching many of our friends and partners in the restaurant industry struggle. We realize that many restaurant workers and owners are now left to fend for themselves without any kind of income,” said Ramsey Gilbertsen, founder of Budget Branders, which is based in West Michigan.

Tom Halpin highlights a systemic problem that exists in most organizations and offers up the remedy by introducing frameworks that build culture, drive sales and create disciples.

“We wanted to help those who have been newly unemployed by COVID-19, so we devised a plan to donate 100% of our profits for April toward supporting those in need.” Budget Branders partnered with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen for the month of April. World Central Kitchen provides chef-prepared meals to communities throughout the country that have been impacted by the pandemic. World Central Kitchen not only feeds those who are unemployed but also gives many restaurants an opportunity to get back to work in preparing food for the program. Gilbertsen said he hopes the partnership will be a win-win, because restaurants will receive the supplies they need while families will receive the food and nourishment they may not be able to afford. Budget Branders partners with manufacturers around the world to provide restaurants with affordable branded cups, sleeves and bags. Media fest Comcast reported an unprecedented shift in network usage amid COVID-19 and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shelter-in-place order, but it’s within the network’s capability, and the network provider promised to continue to deliver the speeds and support the capacity customers need while they are working, learning and connecting from home. Xfinity WiFi hotspots in business and outdoor locations across the country are available to anyone who needs them for free — including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers — and Comcast is giving all internet customers unlimited data for no additional charge. Comcast said it will not disconnect internet service or charge late fees for customers who can’t pay

their bills during this period. Comcast also has created new educational collections for all grade levels in partnership with Common Sense Media, as well as a collection of the most current news and information on COVID-19 on X1 and Flex. For news junkies, Comcast’s subsidiary NBCUniversal is partnering with distribution partners to make MSNBC and CNBC available to all their video customers, regardless of the packages to which they subscribe. NBC- and Telemundo-owned stations are streaming local newscasts as well as coronavirus-related press conferences. And NBC News Now will feature programming drawing upon NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, free to viewers. Confidence crash The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released last week reflects the growing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on builder confidence for newly built singlefamily homes. Builder confidence dropped 42 points in April, which NAHB said is the largest single month change in the history of the index. John Bitely, president of Sable Homes, West Michigan third-largest home builder, said he remains optimistic about housing trends for the region because of the strong housing market going into the pandemic, but admitted he is very concerned. “The current issue we have of not knowing when our industry can go back to work or how long the shutdown will continue as a whole for our society creates unknowns, which make it impossible to plan,” said Bitely. “Are we going to open next week, next month, or six months from now — all will make a difference on my confidence. The sooner it happens, the more confidence I will have.”

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Our business continuity plans and preparations ensure that critical functions will continue in the event of any disruption, with policies, people and processes aligned to provide continuous service. Fifth Third Bank has a long-standing history of developing and testing comprehensive plans to effectively manage through emergencies. We are well prepared to continue delivering the best-in-class service levels you are accustomed to receiving from Fifth Third. In moments like these, we are proud to be your trusted partner. Our experts are continually focused on maintaining the safety, security and success of your business today and in the future. For more information on how we can help with COVID-19-related disruptions to your business, visit Fifth Third means business.

© 2020 Fifth Third Bank, National Association. Member FDIC. Images courtesy of the Fifth Third Bank Museum Archives and Cincinnati Museum Center.

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