Grand Rapids

Science/Medicine
12:34 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

MSU expanding reach of medical research

A view of the recently constructed Secchia Center, MSU's headquarters for the College of Human Medicine in Grand Rapids
user JohnE777 Flickr

Michigan State University’s Human Medicine program is expanding its research facilities far away from East Lansing.

Last month, MSU announced its buying the old Grand Rapids Press building.  This week, developers say they hope to turn an old newspaper building in Flint into a home for MSU medical researchers.

Aron Sousa is an associate dean at the MSU College of Human Medicine.  He says expansions in Grand Rapids and Flint, as well as Midland and Traverse City, reflect the communities’ needs.

“Both the college [of Human Medicine] and the university want to be more active across the state.  We’re the land grant school for the state of Michigan.  We take that mission and that history seriously," says Sousa. 

 MSU is ending some medical programs in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, to make way for new medical schools at Western and Central Michigan Universities.

Politics
1:04 pm
Sat January 28, 2012

Grand Rapids Mayor on state of city: "Our children need us NOW"

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell dedicated his entire state of the city speech Saturday morning to highlighting the problems facing kids in the community. 

Heartwell noted nearly 2 in 5 children in Michigan's 2nd largest city live in poverty. More than 1 in 5 students in Grand Rapids Public Schools drops out of high school. Many don’t have regular access to the internet.

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Education
10:14 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids Community College to ask Kent County voters to approve $100 million bond

Grand Rapids Community College campus downtown.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voters in Kent County will decide on a millage increase for Grand Rapids Community College this May. The college’s board of trustees voted to put the question on the May ballot Monday night.

GRCC’s President Steven Enders says the tax increase is worth it for everyone living near Grand Rapids. “You cannot begin to put a value of the impact of this institution on Kent County and this region. It is just not as simple as counting numbers," Enders said. 

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Education
7:16 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Grand Rapids schools suspends superintendent search

GRPS Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The school board of Michigan’s third largest public school district voted unanimously Monday night to extend interim Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal’s contract for 18 months and suspend the superintendent search.

Neal replaces former superintendent Bernard Taylor. Taylor had agreed to resign from Grand Rapids schools at the end of this school year after he was a finalist for other jobs beginning last spring. But he departed abruptly earlier this month.

In a written statement school board president Senita Lenear said:

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Auto/Economy
12:39 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Economists expect modest growth in Grand Rapids area will continue

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids area economy will continue to grow at a modest pace in 2012. Economists at Grand Valley State University are predicting employment growth between 1.5 and 2-percent this year.

GVSU Professor of Economics Hari Singh surveyed close to 300 business owners in Allegan, Ottawa, Kent and Muskegon counties to compile his report. He says 70-percent of employers told him they plan to hire permanent employees this year.

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public transportation
5:00 am
Mon January 9, 2012

Grand Rapids-area bus system improvements begin today

Students board The Rapid's DASH to the Hill bus. The free route serves Grand Rapids' growing 'Medical Mile' and several colleges nearby.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Rapid busses start a new schedule Monday that will better serve riders late at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday. The bus service is improving thanks to a millage voters passed back in May.

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government
5:00 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Kent County’s ‘reverse eBay’ saves thousands on supplies

Kent County's Adminstration building in downtown Grand Rapids.
Steven Depolo Creative Commons

Kent County is saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on supplies thanks to a customized online auction. The program is like the online auction site eBay in reverse.

When Kent County needs office supplies, like printer paper, it opens an auction online. It lists a maximum price it’s willing to pay based on previous bills. Vendors offer to sell the county printer paper at that price or lower.

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Homeless
8:04 am
Fri December 30, 2011

Federal judge allows registered sex offenders in Michigan homeless shelters

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 A federal judge’s ruling is opening the doors of Michigan’s homeless shelters to registered sex offenders.  

 Two years ago, a 51 year old homeless man was found frozen to death in Grand Rapids.  He was turned away by a   local homeless shelter because the man was a registered sex offender.   The shelter was less than a thousand feet from a school, which would have been a violation of a Michigan law barring sex offenders from living that close to a school.   

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Economy
1:36 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Cities look to philanthropy as economic development tool

Much of downtown Grand Rapids' resurgence can be credited to philanthropic investments.
Dustin Dwyer Changing Gears

The Amway HotelVan Andel Arena. The Grand Rapids Public Museum. What do all these things have in common? Yes, they're all credited with helping turn downtown Grand Rapids around. But they also owe their existence, at least in part, to something else: philanthropy.

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Auto/Economy
12:14 pm
Fri December 23, 2011

Meijer puts out video tribute; says chain will remain family run

The sons of the late Fred Meijer say the Walker-Michigan-based Meijer retail chain will remain “family-owned, family-run” in a video released Thursday.

“Because of our dad, Meijer will always be more than just a company,” Hank and Doug Meijer say in the video, “He was building something else all those years. He was building a family. One that is now 60,000 strong.” Meijer Corporation has about around 200 stores in the Midwest.

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2011
2:53 pm
Wed December 21, 2011

A look back: Michigan Radio's arts and culture coverage

Image by John Wilson Michigan Radio

As part of Michigan Radio's end-of-year look back at some of the more notable stories, here's a collection of 2011 arts and culture stories that we feel deserve another look:

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Arts/Culture
8:37 am
Tue December 20, 2011

ArtPrize 2011 pumps $15.4 million into Grand Rapids’ economy

Families take pictures in front of "Rusty" near the Grand Rapids Public Museum during ArtPrize 2011. Voters picked Rusty as number 5 in the top ten.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A report released today by the Anderson Economic Group say this year’s ArtPrize added $15.4 million to the Grand Rapids economy. That estimate is twice the economic impact measured in each of the first two years. 2011 was the third annual ArtPrize.

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Offbeat
4:29 pm
Sun December 18, 2011

Tiger cub exhibit called off at West Michigan mall

Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

A newspaper reports a tiger cub exhibit has closed at a Grand Rapids mall after public complaints and a planned protest. The Grand Rapids Press reported Friday that mall officials canceled the touring display that allows shoppers to play with and be photographed with the cubs for a price.

Sarah Hale tells the newspaper she had planned a protest for Saturday against the exhibit but called it off.

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Auto/Economy
1:03 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Economist expects Grand Rapids economy will continue to grow, slowly, in 2012

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids economy grew faster than predicted this year and economic forecasters say growth will continue into 2012.

George Erickcek is an economist at the Upjohn Institute for employment research. He says the Grand Rapids economy did grow in 2011, but only by two-percent. (His full presentation is linked here.)

“There’s been no talk of a double dip for many, many months. But the growth…is disappointing. It’s not the growth we want,” Erickcek told a group of business leaders assembled Wednesday.

He says a recovering auto industry and gains in advanced manufacturing are the main reasons Grand Rapids’ economy has grown.

In fact, Erickcek says Grand Rapids is technically over the recession in terms of employment numbers.

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Arts/Culture
5:01 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Food truck craze coming to Grand Rapids?

'What the Truck' food truck wants to operate in the City of Grand Rapids. Normally food trucks aren't allowed to set-up in Grand Rapids except for certain special events.
Steven Depolo Creative Commons

City planners in Grand Rapids are debating whether food trucks should be allowed in the city. Food trucks are becoming more popular thanks in part to TV shows like “The Great Food Truck Race”.

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Arts/Culture
10:14 am
Tue December 6, 2011

ArtPrize adds $100,000 juried award for 2012 event

"Nessie" floats in the Grand River during the 2009 ArtPrize. More prize money is being added to next year's contest.
Steven Depolo Flickr

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - The annual ArtPrize contest in Grand Rapids is getting a new $100,000 juried award and trimming how much money the top two publicly picked winners each get.

Organizers on Tuesday announced the creation of the ArtPrize Juried Grand Prize for the 2012 event, which is scheduled for Sept. 19 to Oct. 7. The new award makes the total prize money for the 2012 event $550,000, up from nearly $500,000 in 2011.

Next year, the artist winning the public voting will get $200,000 instead of the $250,000 that was awarded in 2011. The prize for second place will be $75,000, down from $100,000. Prizes for other juried awards will be $20,000.

Artist and venue registration for the fourth annual ArtPrize event will be announced later.

Arts/Culture
7:40 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

Around 10,000 people expected to pay final respects to Fred Meijer

Fred Meijer was 91-years old.
Meijer

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi says they’re expecting at least 10,000 people to travel to Grand Rapids Tuesday for the public visitation.

“The Meijer family wanted to give the community an opportunity to pay their respects to Fred because he meant so much to so many people, not just in Grand Rapids but really in the state of Michigan,” Guglielmi said.

People have already flooded an online guest book with ‘thanks yous’ to Fred. They’ve shared memories of working with him; even simple stories like getting one of his signed Purple Cow cards (and Sandy the pony - rides still cost just a penny). The cards were good for one free ice cream cone at a Meijer deli. Meijer used to hand the cards out to people he met in his stores.

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Arts/Culture
9:41 pm
Sat November 26, 2011

Cindy Van Andel, wife of Amway Chairman, dies at age 57

Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel, and his wife Cindy at Davenport University's Excellence in Business Awards in 2010.
Davenportweb / Creative Commons Davenport University

Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel issued a brief statement Saturday night:

"I am saddened by the loss of my loving wife Cindy Van Andel. She passed away Friday evening after a brief illness. Cindy has been my friend, confidant and partner for almost 33 years of marriage. She was a warm and caring person who could light up an entire room just by her smile. Her heart went out to all she met and she will be greatly missed."

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Your Story
9:07 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Your Story: Once an abandoned liquor store, now a brewery

Barry Van Dyke outside what will soon be the Harmony Brewing Company
courtesy of Barry Van Dyke

Jack’s Liquor Store was never a beautiful building, even before it closed down and stood empty for more than 10 years. It was a dingy, generic convenience store on a corner. In May 2010, 33-year-old Grand Rapids resident Barry Van Dyke and two siblings bought it anyway.

The store sits on the border of the Uptown and Eastown neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. Eastown has been known as a diverse, vibrant business district and the Van Dyke’s wanted to capitalize on the energy and traffic. They plan to open a brewery in the space soon, Harmony Brewery. But converting the formerly empty building has not been easy.

The Van Dykes came into the project with redevelopment experience. Together, with their father, they own a local property management company called Bear Manor. They’ve bought, fixed up, and rented or sold 13 residential and three commercial properties in Grand Rapids, mostly in the Uptown neighborhood.

These 16 buildings are just a dent in the at least 1,078 buildings the city of Grand Rapids has documented as abandoned. Barry Van Dyke isn’t surprised there are so many. He says the thing most people don’t realize about renovating empty places is how long it takes.

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Auto/Economy
1:30 pm
Tue November 15, 2011

4 projects awarded state tax incentives

Two of the projects, Meijer in Detroit and Grand Rapids Urban Market, will bring more fresh produce into Michigan's two largest cities.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved tax breaks Tuesday in exchange for new investment and jobs.

MEDC spokesman Joseph Serwach says one of the four projects receiving tax breaks includes a much-needed grocery store in the City of Detroit.

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