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Congratulations to the 2013 Newsmakers of the Year. Make more news in 2014 with energy savings. Choose from more than 200 rebates for energy efficiency products and services. There are even greater savings when you select products made in Michigan. (800) 805-0490 5433-E

2 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013



rand Rapids Business Journal news staff 22 years ago began to track the thousands of stories reporters filed each year to review those that would have long-lasting impact in the regional economy and who leads those initiatives. We call them The Newsmakers. After celebrating the 30th anniversary of Grand Rapids Business Journal in 2013, all GRBJ departments rallied around the idea to assure that the leaders in the varied segments of the metro area economy were recognized in more specific ways. This year we are adding emphasis to the Who of the What that has transpired. Culled from more than 2,000 reports in both print and online at, this special issue represents 31 individuals

who in 2013 made waves in 10 sectors of the regional market area. In fact, even the market area saw a tsunami wave of change: The Grand Rapids metropolitan statistical market population rose to more than 1 million after federal adjustments in March, better defining the GR region to include Kent, Ottawa and Mecosta counties. Kent and Ottawa had the highest rate of natural increase in Michigan, and state demographers note West Michigan has one of the most vibrant economies in the state. Why? The Business Journal profiles included here provide the answers. These individuals are the faces of 2013, poised for 2014 impact. —Carole Valade

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Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 5

s e n h o t i l t l a a l r u d a t e n a Y a r g r e e n h l t Co id Eis rs of ark m v e r a k u D sma ing yo k w a e N re’s to m He

Kendall College of Art and Design is proud to be recognized for building collaborative partnerships that strengthen our community and spark innovation through art and design. But the biggest story in West Michigan this year isn’t what we’ve already accomplished—it’s what we’re creating next.

Start Garden


Mike Nichols Grand Rapids Business Journal


here is one name that crops up when there is serious discussion about Grand Rapids’ economic vitality well into the future. That name is Start Garden. Since the inception of Rick DeVos’ $15 million venture seed fund in April 2012, Start Garden has rapidly grown to become a household name at the tables of local entrepreneurs, real estate leaders, technology professionals, city planners and business daydreamers. In its first year, the venture fund, located at 50 Louis St. SW in downtown Grand Rapids, invested $2.3 million in 106 startup ideas. Still months away from its second birthday, that number has already doubled: Start Garden investments have reached $5 million in 163 startups, with 140 of those having gone through the $5,000 investment process, DeVos said. And the money’s only half of the Start Garden model’s equation, he added. “It’s not just picking companies to invest in,” he said. “We have people interfacing regularly with portfolio companies, scheduling classes, coordinating open hours with local professionals and people developing our community outreach.” Start Garden at first invested $10,000 split between two ideas on a weekly basis, but has since cemented such a strong foundation, it now only needs to fund one idea with $5,000 per week. “The goal at launch was to quickly get a whole lot of companies into the pipeline,

so we had two ideas selected, one by endorsement of the public, the other selected by the Start Garden team,” DeVos said. “Those $5,000 investments produced a strong group of $20,000 investments, which has given us a strong (group) of companies that we feel confident in. The current process is a hybrid, where we look at the vote totals and they inform us about the ability of that entrepreneur to rally support around themselves and their idea. Ultimately, the Start Garden team makes the decision, but the voting gives us an important piece of data.” Here’s how Start Garden’s model works: Ideas are submitted to Start Garden online. Every week the Start Garden team takes a look at which ideas seem both feasible and popular with those interacting with the site. They then pick one idea in which to invest $5,000. Those funded ideas hustle to develop their business, before returning at a monthly Update Night to report on the progress they’ve made. During an Update Night, the Start Garden team decides which ideas go on to be supported at the $20,000 level and which go home. From then on, ideas left standing will continue to work with the Start Garden team to determine whether they are ready to be independent or continue climbing the investment ladder, reaching the lofty $50,000 to $500,000 funding level. “It is fun to see some of our companies grow and develop, and it’s even more fun to be proven wrong, which happened several times this year,” DeVos said. At last year’s State of Start Garden ad-

dress, DeVos explained that Start Garden had originally been imagined as a threeyear experiment to do two things: build profitable business portfolios, of which Start Garden would own a percentage, and transform the business culture, shifting professional dependence away from large corporations and back toward entrepreneurs and smaller businesses. “We are still in the earliest days of building a vibrant startup ecosystem. There is a growing awareness in popular culture, and in West Michigan’s culture, that startups and entrepreneurship are vitally important to the future success of cities and regions,” he said. “As far as the process itself, likely the largest changes in the past five years have been the rise of lean startup thinking and methodologies, combined with robust tools to aid in that process. It’s getting easier and cheaper to launch business experiments to get feedback before you have to raise the big round with big checks.” Perhaps it should surprise no one that such passion for a cultural and economic renaissance has come from the mind of DeVos, a man who splits his time between Start Garden and another little project of his called ArtPrize. On his own merit, he has arguably made more of an impact on Grand Rapids than any other member of his generation. Such determination is both an economic and cultural impact worth discussing and celebrating. “I am always impressed by the passion of individuals for their ideas. I am proud that we have created a platform for these people and given them an opportunity to try something that hasn’t been done before,” DeVos said. “If we aggregate all of those little risks and encourage further experimentation, we are confident Start Garden will have a significant long-term economic and cultural impact on Grand Rapids and the entire state of Michigan.”

Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 7

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Bryan Baar | 10

Dan Behm | 28

Rick Breon | 16

Derek Coppess | 24

Dan DeVos | 10

Dick DeVos | 26

Rick DeVos | 10

Dennis Eidson | 26

David Eisler | 12

Mike Faas | 16

Thomas Haas | 12

Brian Harris | 14

Elissa Hillary | 22

Birgit Klohs | 14

Blake Krueger | 20

Tom Kyros | 18

Robert Landeros | 12

Don LeDuc | 18

Joseph Papa | 20

Kent Riddle | 16

Ric Roane | 18

John Sammut | 20

Aaron Schaap | 28

Mike Stevens Dave Engbers | 26

Mike VanGessel | 24

Ryan Vaughn | 28

John Wheeler | 24

Bridget Clark Whitney | 22

Wendy Wigger | 22

Kara Wood | 14

Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 9

category: arts & entertainment | sports

Bryan Baar

Dan DeVos

Rick DeVos

Elite Baseball and Softball Training

Grand Rapids Griffins

Almost doubling in size with a new facility in Wyoming, Elite Baseball and Softball Training should see a healthy increase in clients. Owner Bryan Baar is happy about that, for reasons other than money. Baar started Elite in 1997 because he enjoyed training young ballplayers, but he wasn’t expecting the fulfillment of watching them grow up. “I love being a part of those kids’ lives,” he said. “A lot of them are here five, six, seven, eight years, so they’re almost like your own kids. That’s the biggest thing, is the ability to have an impact and make a difference in their lives.” The new facility broke ground in December and should be finished in May or June. Elite sees about 1,000 clients a year — about 500 clients during a busy winter week — and Baar expects an increase of about 25 percent with the additional space. More than 400 students have gone on to play in college and 30 have signed professional contracts. The new space will give the training company room to re-launch its indoor leagues. 2013 was a great year for Baar; he also was named director of the Art Van Sports Complex. “The biggest thing in 2014 is the new facility,” he said. “That’s been a project in the works for several years, and the location and financing and everything finally came together. “It’s quite a big deal for us.”

The Grand Rapids Griffins shocked the American Hockey League last season and brought the Calder Cup home to Calder City and co-owner Dan DeVos. The 4-2 series win against the Syracuse Crunch was the first league championship for the Griffins since the founding of the team in 1996. The team did lose in the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup Finals in 2000. This year, the Griffins have surged to the top spot in the Midwest Division, despite constant roster shuffling between Van Andel Arena and the team’s parent National Hockey League club, the Detroit Red Wings. Aside from overseeing the Griffins, DeVos is president and CEO of DP Fox Ventures, a board member of Alticor and a member of the West Michigan Sports Commission’s board of directors. His sports involvement isn’t limited to hockey; he also is a part owner of the Orlando Magic and serves on the AHL’s executive committee and the NBA’s Board of Governors. DeVos also is involved in several local organizations including Hope Network and the Grand Valley University Foundation and serves as a trustee for his alma mater, Northwood University. The DeVos family was inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame in 2011. Dan’s wife, Pamella, is president of clothing design company Pamella Roland, and the couple recently made a $1 million donation to Kendall College of Art and Design to help kick-start a fashion program there.

Grand Rapids’ beloved and internationally recognized ArtPrize is headed into its sixth year with no signs of slowing down, said Rick DeVos, its creator. ArtPrize was named a newsmaker for bringing in an estimated 400,000 visitors to the city. Anderson Economic Group reported that, in 2011, ArtPrize made an estimated economic impact of $15.4 million, generating 204 jobs. This past year, ArtPrize offered $560,000 in cash prizes, 169 venues, 1,524 displayed entries and 1,815 artists. “We brought Christian Gaines on board to be the new ArtPrize executive director. His background has been an ideal match for the organization — where it is and where it wants to be. The ArtPrize event continues to be executed well, and the technology platform has outperformed for two years in a row,” DeVos said. “We are also seeing more visitors, more voters and more votes, which means there are more people engaging with contemporary art. I am extremely proud of all of those things.” What makes ArtPrize so special, however, isn’t necessarily its economic impact but its effect on the community. “I think it has changed our minds, in some small way, about what we can do and what is possible here … but I think it’s only the beginning of the impact,” DeVos said. “I’m most interested to see what long-term impact it has on the kids who were probably in about 5th grade during the first ArtPrize. I hope that their ideas about their city and creativity have been broadened.”

— Pat Evans


— Pat Evans

10 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Mike Nichols


Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 11

category: education

David Eisler

Thomas Haas

Robert Landeros

An investment in Grand Rapids’ economic future from Ferris State University is what President David Eisler hangs his hat on. He cited the transformation of the Federal Building as one of the most exciting things the university did in 2013. “It’s great to see the Federal Building be an active, vibrant part of the Grand Rapids community,” he said. “It’s a public space and it’s great to be utilized for that again.” Aside from that he listed several points that are important to the university’s economic engagement, including the educational partnership with Grand Rapids Community College, the pharmaceutical program on the Medical Mile, helping Kendall College develop a design-based economy in West Michigan and the merger with the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts. He also noted his involvement in Talent 2025 and what it’s doing to help West Michigan entrepreneurs and the regional economy. In 2014, Eisler would like to do more to help promote higher education. “We want to continue to work in West Michigan with families that don’t traditionally go to college,” he said. “It’s great to see the creation of educational futures for those families.” There also will be more involvement in the “arts tsunami” that has hit the region, he said, along with the continued support of the area’s educational infrastructure. “We’re very much dedicated to building the West Michigan economy and building jobs,” Eisler said. “That’s a huge part of what we do.”

It’s no secret 2013 was a big year for Grand Valley State University — and President Thomas Haas doesn’t see that growth slowing anytime soon. The accomplishments of which Haas is most proud is the progress the university made in adding real estate to its campuses, and its plans revolving around the Medical Mile. “We’re trying to position the university to be the model for health care education in Michigan,” Haas said. “We’re trying to create the capacity to be able to serve the region.” The Medical Mile is shaping up to be one of the most impressive collections of medical research and education facilities in the world, and Haas said the collaboration between GVSU, Michigan State University, Spectrum Health and Van Andel Institute is incredible. “We’re in a spot to have a dramatic impact for Grand Valley State and Grand Rapids,” Haas said. Aside from the Medical Mile progress, there were important additions to both the Allendale and Grand Rapids campuses, namely the Mary Idema Pew Library and the L. William Seidman Center. “We’re trying to create capacity for us,” he said. “We have 25,000 students, and those two projects can create a lot of partnerships and collaborations.” Although the last few years have seen rapid growth of the university, Haas sees it continuing into the future. “We may think we’re done, but we’re about to get started again. It’s going to be an exciting year to visualize what it’ll look like in 10 years. “We have great momentum, and I’m looking forward to the next phase.”

Reluctant heroes are people who don’t seek greatness but boldly accept challenges when faced with them. Robert Landeros, acting director of Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is such a hero to Starting Gate, WMU’s new business accelerator program. Landeros came to his position through a “tragic and roundabout way,” he said. In 2011, his colleague, K.C. O’Shaughnessy, died following a bicycling accident. Landeros, whose background is in supply chain management, assumed O’Shaughnessy’s role of director of the center, of which Starting Gate is an offshoot. “What do I like about my job? It is the ability to keep K.C.’s legacy alive and work with our students who have innovative ideas and the drive to see them through,” he said. Starting Gate graduated four student businesses last summer, Landeros said. Currently, there are eight companies in the accelerator cohort. Starting Gate’s plan is to seek out and aid students with business ideas that will have the greatest impact on the West Michigan economy, he said. “In less than 12 months an idea for a student business accelerator came to fruition. During those 12 months, leaders within the university and business community leaders in Kalamazoo came together to create Starting Gate, the student business accelerator that has already helped several students begin to realize their dreams of being entrepreneurs,” he said. “I am amazed that so much has happened in such a short time. A total of 12 companies have participated or are currently participating in the accelerator, and five of those have patents pending.”

Ferris State University

Grand Valley State University

— Pat Evans

— Pat Evans

Starting Gate

— Mike Nichols

12 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013


Great leaders don’t do things to make news.

They inspire others with

passion to do things that are newsworthy.

Thank you, Mike Faas, for your leadership, inspiration and passion.

Newsmaker of the Year Ad-Faas 2014.indd 1

1/9/14 3:24 PM

category: government

Brian Harris

Downtown Development Authority Think of Brian Harris, majority owner of H&H Metal Source International Inc. and chair of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, as a firm believer in seeing light at the end of the economic tunnel. “The ultimate future plan is to make the best of a continued recovery from the depth of our recession of 2009,” said Harris. “In each year we’ve been able to grow out of that and it’s satisfying. If we can continue to grow 2 to 10 percent each year, that’s been pretty good.” Equally pleasing is the banner year the DDA has had, including $100 million in downtown investments with Rockford Construction, Orion Construction, Brookstone Capital and 616 Development, all announcing noteworthy projects. He believes the DDA has become more responsive in recent years. “There were a lot of good stories in 2013,” said Harris. “I think the last couple of years the DDA has become a bit more responsive and approachable.” Restoring classic and vintage cars of the 1960s and ’70s is a passionate pastime of Harris. Some of his favorites include a 1962 Lincoln Continental convertible and a 1962 Ford Thunderbird Sports Roadster, of which Harris said only 1,500 were manufactured that year. “It’s one of those things: You can’t control your work life, so this is good therapy because you turn a wrench and the nut, lay down some paint and, suddenly, you have color,” Harris said. “For me, it’s always the journey as opposed to the destination. The gratification is getting there. The journey is the real value.”

Birgit Klohs

Kara Wood

The Right Place Inc.

City of Grand Rapids

Birgit Klohs is an aficionado of history, specifically the French Revolution and the medieval period. “One reason I love history is that human behavior doesn’t change much,” said Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc. “I’m particularly interested in the government structure of those time periods and how it affected people.” When it comes to economic development, Klohs is far from being stuck in the past. Plans are in the works to unveil a 10-point strategic plan, which also marks The Right Place’s 29th year. Klohs has been with the regional nonprofit economic development organization 27 of those years. “It will challenge the board and community to follow the path we’re on,” she said. Klohs points with obvious pride to recent investments that created 2,500 new jobs from 18 successful projects. “We have seen tremendous comebacks in many of our companies,” she said. The retention and expansion of many West Michigan companies, including SpartanNash, is the core of The Right Place’s mission, said Klohs. “Variety is the spice of life” is not just a trite phrase for Klohs: “The people and the companies I get to work with is one of the most diverse jobs anybody could have, and I have it all in one job,” Klohs said. “It’s the most gratifying job because, at the end of the day, we help companies grow and expand and create new jobs. To me, the emotional payback is somebody works today because of our work.”

Kara Wood enjoys the challenges of holding a key job involved with urban city infrastructure, working with actively engaged citizens trying to rekindle the city’s vitality in neighborhoods where properties have slipped in value. She’s also a globe-trotting Spartan alumnus who enjoys chasing the MSU football team when they play away games — and, yes, she was at the Rose Bowl. She also enjoys traveling in Europe and throughout Michigan, in her free time. As executive director of economic development for the city of Grand Rapids for almost seven years, and also executive director of the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Wood said one of the most interesting projects underway is the redevelopment of 820 Monroe Ave. NW, the old Sackner Building, by 616 Development. The building is being redesigned for mixed use, with a significant number of market rate residential units that Wood describes as an exciting addition to the North Monroe neighborhood. Her department also is involved with Rockford Construction’s redevelopment of the Morton House on Ionia Avenue and Monroe Center. The challenge there was the safe removal of a significant amount of asbestos. That project, which will also combine retail space with market rate residential rental units, should be coming online in 2014. In 2013, Wood’s department completed 33 projects, committing to helping with more than $155 million in private investment — “which is up significantly from 2012,” she noted. The projects yielded 709 jobs and $612,577 in new tax revenue to the city of Grand Rapids.

— Paul R. Kopenkoskey

14 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Paul R. Kopenkoskey

— Pete Daly

Making an impact. Grand Valley State University is a major contributor to West Michigan’s well-being with an economic impact of more than $722 million in Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties. Nearly half of our 88,000 alumni live or work in the region, providing area employers the talent needed to grow and prosper. 616.331.5000

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category: health care

Rick Breon

Mike Faas

Kent Riddle

Metro Health

Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Rick Breon, CEO of Spectrum Health System since 2000, likes the challenge of leading the organization’s key components — its group of hospitals; its insurance provider, Priority Health; and its physician group. “As the only West Michigan-based health system, Spectrum Health is focused on providing high quality, affordable health care in our region. We have the ability to coordinate all of the aspects of care. As a result, our patients and members can experience truly comprehensive medicine,” said Breon. Highlights of 2013 were many, including two more hospitals merged with the system, in Big Rapids and in Ludington. Spectrum performed its first lung transplant and then the first combined heart/lung transplant, and its first adult bone marrow transplant. It added a Brain & Spine Tumor Center, and its medical group grew to 1,050 employed physicians and advanced practice providers. The system broke ground on its Beltline Integrated Care Campus, which will open this summer, bringing together multiple specialty and primary care services. Priority Health continued to prepare for all the ramifications of the Affordable Care Act and teamed up with Healthcare Blue Book to become the first Michigan-based health plan to offer its members a comparison shopping guide. In 2014, SHS will continue to build out its electronic medical records infrastructure so its care providers can more easily and safely collaborate for better coordinated care. “We are transforming the way we deliver primary care so we can meet the needs of the newly insured,” said Breon.

The last 19-plus years have been anything but slow for Mike Faas. Later this year he will mark his 20th year as president/CEO of Metro Health, a tenure that is unusually long in that field. 2013, according to Faas, was “probably the strongest year we’ve ever had” at Metro Health, with four major expansion projects. Today, the hospital system is wrapping up work on its new outpatient surgery center, Metro Health Park East on Cascade Road near I-96. The 20,500-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in late January. Another major project is the relocation of the Metro Health Community Clinic to a new facility it will share with Hope Network at 781 36th St. SW in Wyoming. Construction has or is about to begin on a new 99,400-square-foot Professional Building, adjacent to the hospital. The existing building is 60,000 square feet and houses medical services such as neurology and neurosurgery, pulmonology, spine care, infectious disease and the original Wound Healing Center. It also houses many support functions for the hospital, including risk management, legal, marketing, development, volunteer services and physician services. Faas said the current activity represents the second significant period of growth under his administration; the first was the monumental movement of Metro Health from East Grand Rapids to a new campus eight miles south in 2007. Today at Metro Health the focus is on the Affordable Care Act, which will change the U.S. health care world, according to Faas. He is confident they are ready.

Kent Riddle and his wife are empty nesters, but he’s a hobby builder so his house keeps getting bigger — as does Mary Free Bed, the rehab hospital system he has headed as CEO for almost three years. The $54 million expansion launched last spring became a $62.5 million project, a mix of renovation plus a new building that will take Mary Free Bed from an 80-bed acute rehabilitation care system to 119 beds plus 48 skilled nursing beds. It also launched Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Network in 2011, aligning itself with physicians and hospitals throughout much of lower Michigan to offer specialized treatment to distant patients. It also set up a strategic affiliation with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one of the best-known rehabilitation hospitals in the U.S. “We are seeing exponential growth in the number of patients,” said Riddle. In the last complete fiscal year, Mary Free Bed served 20,000 people, both inpatient and outpatient. About three year ago, among rehab hospitals in Michigan, Riddle said it probably ranked third in number of patients served. “Now we’re first, by almost double,” he said. At the main campus in Grand Rapids, the number of patients served increased by about 25 percent in 2011 and again in 2012. In 2013, the increase stopped at about 12 percent, but Riddle said that number could have been more, had the hospital not been full. With the enlarged Mary Free Bed coming on line soon, that shouldn’t be a problem in the future.

— Pete Daly

— Pete Daly

Spectrum Health System

16 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Pete Daly

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Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 17

category: law

Tom Kyros

Varnum Law Varnum Law’s Tom Kyros took on the role of executive partner at a great time: the start of the firm’s 125th anniversary year. A two-year appointment, Kyros spent 2013 celebrating the firm’s long history in Grand Rapids as well as highlighting its most recent accomplishments. Kyros pointed to two contributions of which he is most proud. The first is Varnum’s MiSpringboard initiative, which includes a commitment of $1 million in legal services to start-ups in Michigan and has already seen the launch of some successful businesses. Second is Varnum’s contribution to the Grand Rapids community through its pro bono work, donations and volunteer efforts. In 2013, the firm contributed more than 1,500 hours in pro bono work and more than 2,700 hours in service on nonprofit and professional boards. “Stability, longevity and tradition are very important to our culture,” Kyros said. “We work hard to create an atmosphere that honors our long history, and our partners routinely talk about their desire to leave the firm better than they found it.” In the year ahead, Kyros and the rest of Varnum’s leadership team will focus on solidifying the firm as a leading law firm in Michigan. “That means continuing our growth in the southeast Michigan region,” he said. Additionally, the firm will focus on how to accommodate older partners looking to scale back but not retire completely, and on impacts the firm is experiencing due to technology.

Don LeDuc

Richard Roane

Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Warner Norcross & Judd

It was a big year for Thomas M. Cooley Law School and its president, Don LeDuc. The school entered into an affiliation agreement with Western Michigan University that will bring Cooley to WMU. Not only is it significant for both schools in terms of new opportunities for students, faculty and staff, but it also has the potential to serve as a model for integration of legal education within a university setting. While the WMU affiliation agreement was the highlight for LeDuc in 2013, he noted that he and his colleagues also were focused on the continued integration of Cooley into the civic and legal communities. “As a school with a commitment to public and community service and to pro bono assistance for those needing legal help, we could not be in a better city than Grand Rapids, where the political, business and legal leaders are among the most public-minded in the nation.” In 2014, LeDuc will focus on the implementation of the WMU affiliation. He said the school also will undergo a comprehensive accreditation review of all its campuses by the American Bar Association. While not a Grand Rapids resident, LeDuc said he is fond of the Heartside neighborhood in which the Grand Rapids Cooley campus is located and its proximity to many of downtown’s best venues. “What I enjoy most about working in Grand Rapids is that it is such a community-oriented environment with so many outstanding leaders,” he said.

At the end of 2012, Richard Roane was appointed to chair the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers’ LGBT Alternative Family Committee. By the end of 2013, that appointment would have Roane celebrating both professional and personal achievements. The LGBT Alternative Family committee had expected to focus on the Defense of Marriage Act, but it soon became the committee’s sole focus, following the Supreme Court’s decision to hear both the U.S. v. Windsor case and the Hollingsworth v. Perry case (known as the Prop. 8 case). “The committee worked … reviewing amicus briefs that the various organizations wanted our signature on,” Roane said. “We ultimately approved two briefs, one that was written by one of our fellows in the California case and one that was written by a group of university professors in the Windsor case with our further input and editing.” In June 2013, the Supreme Court announced the repeal of DOMA and of Prop. 8. “Professionally, it was an amazing sense of accomplishment,” Roane said. “The work that our committee did was just a sliver of the work that was done by so many organizations and by the actual parties to the case, but to have some impact on the changing of the law of the nation was thrilling.” It was also life changing for Roane. “Because of the repeal of Section 3 of DOMA, that opened the door for me to marry my husband who is from another country and is now here as a permanent resident,” Roane said.

— Charlsie Dewey

18 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Charlsie Dewey

— Charlsie Dewey

Giving you greater possibilities. 速

category: manufacturing

Blake W. Krueger

Joseph Papa

John Sammut

Perrigo Co.


Blake W. Krueger, an avid fly fisherman, hunter and outdoor enthusiast, is chairman and CEO at Wolverine Worldwide. Based in Rockford for well over a century, Wolverine now is one of the largest footwear companies on earth. “I’m also a pretty competitive guy,” he adds, which may help explain how the company grew so much in the past two years. Krueger, a Kalamazoo native who became an attorney and practiced law at Warner Norcross & Judd for almost two decades, has been with Wolverine for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in the company’s $2 billion deal in 2012 to acquire four big name brands: Sperry Top-Sider, Saucony, Keds and Stride Rite. Its dozen other brands include names like Merrell shoes and boots, and, of course, Hush Puppies, which Wolverine created two generations ago and which launched it on a global trajectory. Wolverine just announced preliminary 2013 results: record sales of approximately $2.69 billion and record reported earnings that may reach 90 cents per share — that, despite a rather flat soft consumer goods market in the U.S. in general during the fourth quarter. However, Wolverine sales continue to grow offshore, especially in Asia. In 2014, full-year diluted EPS is expected to grow at a double-digit rate. “I wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the industry,” said Krueger. And he’s happy to be here, specifically. “I’m proud of Grand Rapids and what’s happened with our renaissance over the last 30 years,” he said.

Perrigo has gone the distance since Joseph Papa became CEO in 2006 — to Dublin, Ireland, to be precise. While the company still maintains its main base of operations in Allegan, where it was founded in 1887, West Michigan learned in August the over-the-counter pharmaceuticals manufacturer would be moving its legal domicile to Ireland. To facilitate that, Perrigo bought Irish drug developer Elan Corp. for $8.6 billion. Perrigo, a global giant in its field, is one of a number of major corporations that have resettled legally in Ireland, where the corporate income tax rate is far below average. The move will also provide Perrigo with a new hub from which to expand in Europe. A Perrigo spokesman said the company “will still pay taxes in Michigan and our operation in Michigan will continue to grow,” with the company committing up to $300 million in expansion here over the next three years, which is expected to add 650 jobs over the next five years. On Feb. 28, Perrigo will hold its Investor Day at the New York State Exchange, with a live webcast of the event. Perrigo is the world’s largest manufacturer of OTC health care products for the store brand market and an industry leader in pharmaceutical technologies. Its products are sold in the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Israel and Australia, as well as more than 40 other key markets, including Canada, China and Latin America. In its fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, Perrigo reported net sales of almost $3.2 billion, with operating income of $569 million.

— Pete Daly

— Pete Daly

There has been a lot of talk about attracting talent to West Michigan, and people like John Sammut are the reason. Sammut is a West Michigan transplant. He grew up on the east side of Michigan and relocated to Grand Rapids, where he started Firstronic, an electronics contract manufacturing company. This year Firstronic experienced a string of promising successes. First, the company was awarded a $300,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for an expansion. Then it received an award of $289,550 in Skilled Trades Training Funds from the state of Michigan. Sammut said hiring expectations already have been exceeded, thanks to the company’s ability to compete with other global manufacturing centers. “We added more than 100 jobs in 2013 and we expect this trend to continue,” he said. “We are providing many opportunities for employees to get training in electronic manufacturing and be rewarded for their increased skills.” Firstronic’s 2013 success isn’t limited to hiring and training. Sammut said the company’s biggest success last year was a dramatic increase in revenue, particularly related to export sales. “We currently export over 75 percent of our production to countries that previously produced the majority of electronic products sold in North America — Mexico, China, Korea and India.” During 2014, Sammut expects Firstronic to experience continued growth at its Grand Rapids plant. He is also planning to open a greenfield facility in Juarez, Mexico.

Wolverine Worldwide

20 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Charlsie Dewey

GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL is pleased to announce that Reshma Saujani will be the keynote speaker for the biennial “The 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan” luncheon event. Reshma is the author of the new book, “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line,” in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course, both personally and professionally. She is also the founder of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit

organization working to close the gender gap in technology fields and prepare young women for jobs of the future. Please join us on March 4, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel’s Ambassador Ballroom, as we celebrate the achievements of “The 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.”

Reserve your seats now at

Reshma Saujani Keynote Speaker

Author, “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line” Founder, Girls Who Code The first Indian-American woman to run for Congress Named one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World; Honored as AOL/PBS Next MAKER Has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Fast Company and on The Today Show

March 4, 2014 Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Ambassador Ballroom 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

For additional event information, contact Alex Fluegel at 616.459.3222 or For sponsorship information, contact

category: nonprofits | philanthropy

Elissa Hillary

Local First

Local First may be focused on promoting local businesses and commerce, but it is quickly becoming a go-to organization at the national level based on its work in West Michigan. In 2013, Local First was featured on Cynthia Canty’s “Stateside” and in U.S. News and World Report. It also was invited to bring a delegation to Harvard University’s Growing the Impact Economy Summit. Local First also celebrated its 10th anniversary, merged with the Lakeshore Independent Business Alliance, and saw its membership grow from 600 to more than 750 locally owned businesses. “We’ve expanded along the lakeshore as far south as the Saugatuck/Fennville area,” said Elissa Hillary, executive director. Hillary said Local First has formed partnerships with local economic development organizations. In addition, it published a regional Guide to Local Living and hosted monthly relationship-building events for local entrepreneurs in Grand Haven, Grand Rapids and Holland. “West Michiganders understand the unique experience and quality of life that locally owned businesses bring to a place,” Hillary said. “In addition, our community takes pride in its philanthropy and ability to collaborate. Both of these traits are directly related to the percentage of local ownership within a community.” In the year ahead, Hillary said Local First plans to launch three new programs. It also might be the year Hillary takes the leap into local business ownership. Though not ready to talk about the venture, she said she and her husband have purchased a small commercial food-processing facility in northeast Grand Rapids.

Bridget Clark Whitney

Wendy Wigger

Kids’ Food Basket

Gilda’s Club | LaughFest

One in four children in West Michigan suffers from hunger, but Kids’ Food Basket is doing its best to lower that number. Executive director Bridget Clark Whitney leads the organization she helped start a decade ago, now supplying a nutritious evening meal to more than 6,000 children every day. “That’s 6,000 kids who don’t have to worry about when they’re going to eat next,” Clark Whitney said. “That’s 6,000 kids who can be healthy, and we’re ensuring that they’ll live to their full potential.” With the help of about 175 daily volunteers, that number should grow in 2014. Clark Whitney said she hopes to take three more schools off the waiting list of nine schools — all of which have a child poverty rate of more than 80 percent. The organization also will begin the discussion of a second satellite location, in addition to the one opened in Muskegon in 2013 that now feeds more than 600 kids daily. Clark Whitney also had a big year, being named to the Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty list and as Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Young Professional. Near the end of the year, Kids’ Food Basket launched a national network to help set up programs in other states. The first opened in Utah and another is in development in Toledo, Ohio. Along with growing the movement, Clark Whitney will make sure the organization continues to strengthen its hold on the community’s hunger issue. “We are solving a critical problem by offering the community a chance to change the world for the better.”

2013 saw Wendy Wigger move from vice president of community relations and program development to president of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. In addition to heading the growing grief support organization, which is one of the largest and busiest of 52 affiliate clubs in North America, Wigger also is in charge of the nonprofit’s signature event, LaughFest. “Based on the Grand Valley State University Consumer and Economic Impact survey conducted for the organization, 2013 demonstrated continued improvement in the festival experience of attendees, growth in awareness of Gilda’s Club, and had an economic impact of $4.3 million direct and indirect spending.” LaughFest also has helped put Grand Rapids on the map, garnering international headlines and attracting visitors from 33 states and Canada. “It has brought a national level of awareness not only for our organization and the importance of emotional health — it has also become another innovative differentiator for the city of Grand Rapids and the whole of West Michigan.” Wigger said Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids has seen an increase in the number of children, adults, families and friends in its cancer, grief and community-based support programs. She expects this year to be another successful one for the organization and the festival. “All the proceeds for the festival go to support our free programming, helping to diversify our revenue streams,” Wigger said.

— Charlsie Dewey

22 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Pat Evans

— Charlsie Dewey

Congratulations Don LeDuc Saluting your decades of leadership and vision at Cooley Law School

Don LeDuc President and Dean Thomas M. Cooley Law School Finalist, 2013 Newsmakers of the Year Grand Rapids Business Journal

Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a private, nonprofit, independent law school accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley has campuses across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and in Tampa Bay, Fla.

category: real estate | development | construction

Derek Coppess

616 Development Some people see an empty plot of land and that’s where it ends. For Derek Coppess, founder of 616 Development, that’s when the creative juices start to flow. “What we’re doing starts with real creative vacant space and moves into a human creative structure that deals with people,” said Coppess. “I get a real kick out of the creative part of this business.” Coppess is proud of a handful of recently completed projects in Grand Rapids, including 616 Lofts at Kendall, 16 Monroe Center NE. “We moved our headquarters here as well,” said Coppess. “We took the second floor above the restaurant.” Additional developments in the works, totaling an estimated $100 million, include multi-family dwellings. “The locations are scattered on four different sites, four different projects,” said Coppess. “I can’t be more specific than that. They’re all urban though.” During his free time, Coppess enjoys the opportunity to travel with his wife of less than a year, Amanda. Even when he’s away from a work site, he enjoys the design-build challenge when it comes to renovating spaces in which people will be living. “I love renovating my own house,” he said. “I love that process; anything in the creative world I enjoy.” This year, Coppess is trying something new: a multimillion-dollar development on Michigan Street NE near the Medical Mile that is going up from scratch. He sees it as just one more step in the growth of 616 Development.

Mike VanGessel

John Wheeler

Rockford Construction

Orion Construction

Mike VanGessel, CEO and founding partner of Rockford Construction, and his wife are facing the reality of becoming empty nesters. “Two of them are off at college and one will be heading there soon, so I really value our time together (as a family),” he said. Change is at the forefront of his professional life as well. Specifically, that means taking Rockford Construction’s development efforts a step further to help meet the challenges of communities with affordable housing, access to jobs, health care and education, walkability, sustainability and a rich culture that supports a diverse, multi-generational city. “By addressing these issues we can begin to create complete neighborhoods,” he said. “There are many great organizations already working toward that end. I want Rockford to be an integral part of those efforts. At heart, I believe we are problem-solvers. Our clients are facing new challenges as economics and demographics continue to evolve. The world is changing, and we need to respond.” VanGessel said from a construction standpoint, Rockford will continue to push the envelope in terms of technology, which includes offering a range of services to meet its clients’ needs and implementing leaner, greener construction methodologies. One aspect that’s unlikely to ever change: VanGessel is a die-hard Sparty. “I’m an MSU grad and huge Spartan fan, so football season was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to watching our basketball team through the winter months,” he said.

John Wheeler’s goals for his development business are straightforward. “I just want to continue to do what I’ve always done, which is to create value, create neighborhoods for the betterment of Michigan, provide employment opportunities and that’s about it,” said Wheeler, principal of Orion Construction in charge of business development, strategic marketing, and president of Orion Real Estate Solutions. Wheeler has much to crow about. Besides starting a real estate arm and getting involved in the proposed Arena Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Wheeler also started projects in Port Huron and Lansing, partnered with a storied Detroit builder and announced Eastown Flats. “What I love most are the many different functions that have to take place,” said Wheeler, “from the need of a client, or our own development, finding land, fulfilling legal technicalities and development agreements and construction of and satisfaction of a completed project. That’s the feel-good aspect of my job.” Wheeler’s life extends to serving as the captain of his charter fishing boat on Lake Michigan, riding his Street Glide HarleyDavidson, and serving on 13 nonprofit boards through the years, including Kids’ Food Basket, God’s Kitchen and Goodwill, as well as the John Wheeler Charitable Trust, which provides for people who are less fortunate. “It’s a private giving, something we’ve been doing for a long time, and I enjoy doing it,” said Wheeler.

— Paul R. Kopenkoskey

— Paul R. Kopenkoskey

— Paul R. Kopenkoskey

24 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

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Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 25

category: retail

Dick DeVos

Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan There’s $100 million that’s staying in West Michigan thanks to the work Dick DeVos did with the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan. RAAWM, a private sector initiative committed to the improvement and promotion of world-class air service to West Michigan, had its crowning moment when the announcement was made that Southwest Airlines would begin offering services at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in August 2013. The agreement enabled West Michigan’s economic engine to keep running strong and even grow, DeVos said, adding that air service is a critical ingredient to doing business in today’s market. “We estimate it to save $70 million every year for the community. The really big story, which is unmeasured, is how (this facilitates) business expansion in West Michigan.” RAAWM has served its purpose and is currently wrapping up its last operations and doing final audits, DeVos said, but the fight for new opportunities and new flights isn’t over. “In this particular industry right now, there’s continued pressure to consolidate and reduce flights and seats for communities like ours,” he said. “We need to continue to fight to expand wherever we can the physical needs of the airport to accommodate additional traffic.” This year’s list of Newsmakers also includes his son, Rick, who was nominated for his work with ArtPrize. Dad said he’s up for a little friendly competition. “I’m enormously proud of our son and what ArtPrize has done for the community,” DeVos said. “I hope he wins.”

Dennis Eidson

Mike Stevens | Dave Engbers


Founders Brewing Co.

Imagine having to oversee the merger of two major companies into one colossal-sized Fortune 500 company. That’s the job Dennis Eidson, president and CEO of SpartanNash, has in front of him. And thanks to a $2.75 million economic incentive package, courtesy of The Right Place Inc., he even managed to keep his newly merged company locally headquartered in West Michigan, retaining and adding hundreds of jobs. “Scale is critical in food retailing and wholesaling today. Our expectation would be that with a larger platform, the company will be able to leverage that scale to better partner with our suppliers and build even stronger relationships,” he said. “This scale and ability to drive sales will result in greater access to category management support, shopper insights, loyalty analysis, co-marketing programs and an improved cost of goods. This will benefit all segments of our company: the independent retailer, military, as well as our corporate stores.” Eidson offers a huge thank-you to the business community and the dedicated consumers who trust the Spartan name. “I’ve been involved in (the grocery business) for over 35 years at just about every level,” he said. “It’s a dynamic industry, very complex today when you consider the number of consumer products, producers and suppliers, and it is a satisfying challenge to help navigate through all of the complexities and now be in a position to put my 35 years to work as the leader of this great company.”

Founders Brewing Co. had a great year in 2013, but it wasn’t without its tumultuous periods. Co-founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers are happy to see 2013 in the rearview mirror. “It feels good now because we went through a pretty tough year,” Engbers said. “It was positive turmoil — all the construction, expansion, capital being invested in new machinery — but everything is now in place and on the floor.” With demand still rising for the brewery’s liquid, the new infrastructure will ensure the company can continue to grow. “2014 can just be about executing,” Stevens said. “Let’s focus on and make beer. We should be clicking on all cylinders now. It’ll be nice to have a breather from the expansion and all the contractors that were walking in and out of the brew house.” Founders added dozens of employees to its work force, and that’s where the owners hang their hats. “One of the big things for us is we’ve been able to expand the number of employees we have,” Engbers said. “We’re bringing more people into the Founders family. That’s good for us; that’s good for West Michigan.” Last year, Founders brewed about 112,000 barrels of beer, distributing through 26 states. This year, Founders should find itself in the top 25 largest craft breweries in the country, set to brew up to 200,000 barrels. “2013 was all about building the infrastructure; getting the right pieces of equipment, the right people into place,” Stevens said. “This year, we’re positioned to continue to grow.”

— Mike Nichols

26 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Mike Nichols

— Pat Evans

Congratulations Dennis. SpartanNash’s 16,000 associates join the Grand Rapids Business Journal in congratulating Dennis on his nomination for the “Newsmaker of the Year” award. As CEO of Spartan Stores since 2008, Dennis’ exemplary leadership has helped to drive the growth and success of Spartan Stores. We know firsthand that Dennis’ experience, passion and integrity are only exceeded by his commitment and care for people. We are proud to be part of a company where people matter most. Now as CEO of SpartanNash, a Fortune 500 company, we congratulate Dennis on his achievements and nomination. Together, we are excited to move forward.

category: technology

Dan Behm

Open Systems Technologies Dan Behm makes no apologies for being an early riser. “I can’t wait to get to work in the morning,” said Behm, president of Open Systems Technologies. The source for some of Behm’s excitement for his work is due in part to an office Behm opened in downtown Detroit that employs seven people there and 140 total — 75 of them hired in the last three years, as well as educating West Michigan clients about how to avert computer hackers’ attempts to wreak havoc on their companies. Behm predicts his company will add new markets as time rolls on and he gives credit to his employees for the success and reputation OST enjoys. “We continue to grow our philosophy, which is, if you look at who we are as a company, we’re really in business to provide a fantastic place for people to work,” he said. “We put people here first because if we take really good care of our employees, give them flexibility in their jobs, professional growth and a job environment that’s fun for them, everything else falls into place.” Behm leaves nothing to chance. Every six months, an employee survey is conducted, with complete satisfaction averaging 95 percent to a recent 98 percent. “We were shocked,” a pleased Behm said of the 98 percent satisfaction rating. He attributes employees’ willingness to go the extra mile to a corporate culture of trust that is apparent throughout the business. “The trust we have for each other between the leadership team and everybody within the organization is key.” — Paul R. Kopenkoskey

Aaron Schaap

Ryan Vaughn

The Factory

Varsity News Network

Every co-working space in Michigan owes a debt of gratitude to the man who led by example, planting the state’s first model in West Michigan in 2009. That man is Aaron Schaap, founder of The Factory, a co-working space housed on the fourth floor of the Leonard Building at 38 W. Fulton St. in downtown Grand Rapids. The Factory’s influence has transformed the building into a tech-savvy hotspot for entrepreneurs, which led to changing the building’s identity to coLab, also known as the Grand Rapids Tech Hub. The Factory helps professionals achieve their full capabilities in the context of community. “We’ve had huge growth, and we’re now close to 90 members at The Factory. There’s a minimum of 50 people always there,” said Schaap, who’s also the founder of Elevator Up. The Factory’s co-learning classes, which began in March 2013, have already graduated more than 100 students and helped many of them get jobs, Schaap said, adding that the classes met such a huge demand, he is developing a team just for co-learning and looking to hire an admissions recruiter and dean. For those who follow in his footsteps, Schaap advises focusing less on a sleek infrastructure and more on the right people. “A lot of people go out and try to create space. They spend a lot of money on artwork and furniture, and they forget people,” he said. “If you focus on starting with people, with the community, before you invest in your space … you can make all the other things happen quickly.”

Ryan Vaughn wanted to be a novelist and, along the way, created what is commonly hailed as “ for high school sports.” Vaughn is the CEO and founder of Varsity News Network, a Grand Rapids-based platform for high school sports websites. He is also well-known in the local entrepreneurial community as the male half of the dynamic “Batman Startup Couple” with his wife, Laura, the co-founder of the startup Sitting in a Tree. In November, VNN won the $500,000 grand prize at Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, an international business competition. VNN, which is already in 13 states, has plans to take its fistful of dollars and hit full-throttle, expanding across the country, Vaughn said. “As a former high school athlete, one of the things I’m really proud of is how VNN allows those stories to be told,” he said. “It tells all their stories and not just the major ones. It makes a big difference.” Vaughn said the company’s success is owed to his amazing team — “some of the most talented people from all over the country.” He has plans to keep that team headquartered here. “Being in this community as a startup, there’s always a push to go to a major market, like New York or Silicon Valley. But one of the reasons we’re really excited about Michigan — especially Grand Rapids — is its density of hustle,” he said. “It’s a group of underdogs who are just willing to scrap to get stuff done and help everybody else.”

28 Grand rapids Business Journal | Newsmakers of The Year 2013

— Mike Nichols

— Mike Nichols

nominated for newsmaker of the Year Dr. robert landeros


Dr. Landeros, Western Michigan University’s chair of the Department of Management and interim director of the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, has played an important role in the development of Starting Gate, a student business accelerator. Located in downtown Kalamazoo, Starting Gate gives WMU student entrepreneurs rich and valuable resources to develop startup companies.


Grand Rapids

It takes two



Meet 5 of the city’s most creative couples

Amy and Erin Wilson, at Wealthy Theatre






GRM_02.14_CVR1_SPINE.indd 1



1/3/14 10:18 AM

ON NEWSSTANDS starting January 28.

Visit or call 616.459.4545 to subscribe.

Newsmakers of The Year 2013 | Grand rapids Business Journal 29

Who made news in 2013?






Real Estate/Development/Construction Estate and Development

Sports/Arts Arts & Entertainment/Sports & Entertainment



Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide Joseph Papa, Perrigo John Sammut, Firstronic Derek Coppess, 616 Development Mike VanGessel, Rockford Construction John Wheeler, Orion Construction Dick DeVos, Regional Air Alliance West of West Michigan/Southwest Michigan Airlines Dennis Eidson, SpartanNash Dave Engbers/Mike Stevens, Founders Brewing Co.

Health Care

Rick Breon, Spectrum Health System Mike Faas, Metro Health Kent Riddle, Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital

Law Tom Kyros, Varnum Law Law

Tom LeDuc, Don Kyros, Varnum ThomasLaw M. Cooley Law School Ric Roane, Don LeDuc,Warner Thomas Norcross M. Cooley andLaw Judd School Ric Roane, Warner Norcross and Judd

Dan Behm, Open Systems Technologies Aaron Schaap, The Factory Ryan Vaughn, Varsity News Network Bryan Baar, Elite Baseball/Softball Training Dan DeVos, Grand Rapids Griffins Rick DeVos, ArtPrize Elissa Hillary, Local First Bridget Clark Whitney, Kids’ Food Basket Wendy Wigger, Gilda’s Club/LaughFest


Brian Harris, Downtown Development Authority Birgit Klohs, The Right Place Inc. Kara Wood, City Economic of Grand Development Rapids Authority/ Brownfield Redevelopment Authority

Education David Eisler, Ferris State University Education

Thomas David Eisler, Haas, Ferris Grand State Valley University/Kendall State University Robert College Landeros, of Art and Starting Design/UICA Gate Thomas Haas, Grand Valley State University Robert Landeros, Western Michigan University/Starting Gate

The Business Journal also congratulates the first-ever GRBJ Impact Award winner, Start Garden.

GR Biz Journal full-page ad for BLM.qxp 1/13/14 3:56 PM Page 1

Goal: A better, brighter future for Michigan. Michigan has made a big comeback in the last few years, but we still have work ahead. We won’t rest until Michigan’s turnaround is complete and we’re working to make that happen. You could call it a resolution.... but, in our eyes, it is a commitment. A commitment to making Michigan a Top Ten state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy. Yes, we are optimists, but we are also realists. We know a whole New Michigan can’t be built in 2014. But we know where we are now, where we want to go, and what it takes to get there. Join us. Only by working together can we reach our goal of a better, brighter future for Michigan. Get informed, get involved, and get the word out.

Get informed. To reach a destination, you need to know your starting point. You’ll also need a map. We call it the Michigan Turnaround Plan. Take a moment to review facts and figures about Michigan, its economy and educational system on our Data Portal: • Performance Trackers: See how MI’s economy stacks up to competitors, how our universities are performing, and how to take advantage of current trends • Business Leaders for Michigan’s Economic Outlook Surveys: Find out how confident MI’s largest employers are in MI’s economy compared to that of the U.S. and if they are planning on hiring or expanding.

A New Michigan: The 2013 Report on Michigan’s Progress in Six Opportunities

Get involved. Save these dates and plan to join us for these key Business Leaders’ events in 2014


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GRBJ - The Newsmakers of the Year - 2013  
GRBJ - The Newsmakers of the Year - 2013  

Who made news in 2013? The Grand Rapids Business Journal honors finalists in 10 industry categories.