Grand Rapids

Economy
1:41 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

One investment fund bets big on Michigan

Stein moved his company's HQ from LA to Grand Rapids
Steven Depolo Creative Commons

Can a Michigan investment fund make big money by investing only in mid-size Michigan companies?

That’s the idea behind the Michigan Prosperity Fund.

It’s the brainchild of Michigan native Martin Stein, founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackford Capital.

Stein previously based Blackford out of LA, but says he started noticing a trend: about 70% of the companies he invested in were in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

“So, on the business side, it made a lot of sense for us to be closer to where we were investing in companies,” says Stein.

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Arts & Culture
8:48 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Artists scramble to put the finishing touches on their pieces for ArtPrize

im Toogood watches her crew assemble about 200 steel beams in the shape of a geodesic dome.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Art is popping up like mushrooms in downtown Grand Rapids. That’s because ArtPrize kicks off this week.

The big winner of the art competition is decided by the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the event and vote. But there are juried awards too. In all more than $500,000 in prize money is up for grabs.

Norman Wilder has been painting an 18-foot long, 10-foot high mural on the outside wall of a risk management company since last Wednesday.

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Business
3:46 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Bell's Brewery coming to Grand Rapids airport

Bell's Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo
Credit bellsbeer.com

A popular Kalamazoo craft beer brewer will open a location soon in the Grand Rapids area.

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Government
5:01 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Supporters: Parks millage would end era of “spit-shine and chewing gum” maintenance

Kids play on a merry-go-round during a campaign kickoff in support of the parks millage.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A coalition in Grand Rapids wants voters to approve a dedicated millage for city parks in November.

The campaign to get people to vote for the millage kicked off in an abandoned wading pool at a city park. It’s not safe anymore and will be torn up this fall. There’s no money to replace it.

Jenn Gavin watches her three year old, Milo, playing on the other side of a chain-link fence around the empty pool. She says they walk to this park regularly.

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Stateside
5:10 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Grand Rapids organization shows the benefits of shopping local

Elissa Hillary
localfirst.com

When it's time to buy something, what's your pattern? Do you head to the big chain store thinking you might save a little bit? Or do you try to take your business and your money to a local business?

Elissa Hillary hopes you think "local first."

"When you are supporting a locally owned business, 73% more money stays in the community and recirculates, and that money goes to create jobs to fund our tax base, to support our infrastructure, and schools and roads and things like that," said Hillary.

She heads up Local First. It’s a Grand Rapids-based group with a mission to get us all to keep our local businesses and merchants top of mind when we go shopping.

She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Economy
11:02 am
Sun September 1, 2013

New 'Downtown Market' opens tomorrow in Grand Rapids

Celebrating the opening of the market.
Bryan Frank Photography

Vendors are preparing for a flood of people as the new Downtown Market opens up tomorrow in Grand Rapids.

Community leaders hope the giant new indoor market will become a year-round regional attraction.

The smell of fresh apple pie from the hot pink Sweetie-licious bakery is the first thing you notice inside the new Downtown Market. It’s one of Linda Hunt’s national award-winning pies made with Michigan apples.

Hunt’s small bakery in DeWitt makes more than homemade pies. They make “snickerdoodles” or “whoopee-pies,” and cupcakes among other things.

“Pretty much everything here is awesome,” Hunt said.

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Politics & Culture
3:43 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

The Pentagon is proposing to cut back production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. We looked at what that could mean for the Michigan companies that make parts for the Bradley.

And, who wins and who loses when a major freeway is widened through urban neighborhoods?

And we looked at the local food scene in Grand Rapids to see just how food builds a sense of place.

Also, a dead zone has developed in Green Bay. What is causing it and is there anything we can do to fix it?

First on the show, There's been lots to celebrate in terms of sales for the U.S. car makers, bouncing back in a big way from their near-death experiences.

But those strong sales have the auto companies and their suppliers boosting production at a fast rate. And that could be having an unwanted effect---declining customer satisfaction with the vehicles they're turning out.

Claes Fornell, founder of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, joined us today to talk about the latest survey results.

Stateside
2:09 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Grand Rapids is the site of a culinary revolution

Clagett Farm CSA Week 10 thebittenworld.com

An interview with Lisa Rose Starner about her new book.

Let’s talk food. Delicious, fresh, healthy, local food.

That is the mission of Lisa Rose Starner, to get as many of us as possible to eat local. And there’s plenty of that happening in Grand Rapids, from community gardens to microbreweries to food entrepreneurs and artisans and so much more. Lisa was invited to tell the many stories of the Grand Rapids local food scene and the result is her book “Grand Rapids Food: A Culinary Revolution."

Lisa Rose Starner joined us today from the WGVU studios in Grand Rapids. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:06 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

What difference does art education really make anyway?

Keon Pearson and her son Keontay Seymour talk about the difference art education has made for Keontay at the West Michigan Center for Art and Technology.
Courtesy of the West Michigan Arts and Technology Center courtesy of WMCAT

Only a handful of public schools in Grand Rapids still offer art classes of any kind. To fill the gap, the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) offers free art education at their facility in downtown Grand Rapids.

State of Opportunity's Story Booth stopped by WMCAT this summer. The booth goes out across the state to capture stories we might not otherwise hear.

Teenagers participating in various summer art education programs shared stories about what art means to them.  

Keon Pearson and her son Keontay Seymour both came into the booth to talk to each other about how access to art education has changed Keontay and State of Opportunity's Youth Journalist Alex Wilson produced this audio postcard.

Arts & Culture
1:26 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

State's largest contemporary art center merges with Ferris State University

A visitor to the UICA checks out an exhibit at the new building in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids has faced significant financial problems, especially after investing roughly $13 million dollars to move into a new, bigger building in 2011. Operating costs went up and it hasn’t attracted the surge of new donors the UICA has hoped for.

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Politics & Government
12:30 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Five Michigan cities are getting federal funding to demolish blighted homes

An abandoned home in Flint (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The city of Detroit is getting $52.3 million to deal with its blight problem.

Several other Michigan cities are also getting money to tear down abandoned homes and clean up other vacant buildings.

In June, the U.S.Treasury Department approved $100 million dollars to help several Michigan cities deal with blight. 

In addition to the money going to Detroit, the governor’s office announced today that the city of Flint will receive $20.1 million. Saginaw, Grand Rapids and Pontiac will also receive some money from the federal government’s Hardest Hit fund.

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Law
4:35 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Michigan communities marking National Night Out this week

A clown makes balloon animals and flowers for two children at Flint's National Night Out event
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Communities across Michigan will be marking National Night Out this week.

National Night Out is intended to encourage people to get out of their homes and meet their neighbors.

Flint is holding a community party downtown today. 

Flint community leaders hope this week’s National Night Out will help them battle the city’s crime problem.   Flint has recorded three dozen homicides this year.  

Mayor Dayne Walling hopes events like National Night Out will help local police and neighborhood watch groups work more closely together.

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Politics & Government
12:48 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Detroit's mayoral primary isn't the only race on the ballot in Michigan on Tuesday

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A lot of attention has been paid to Detroit’s mayoral primary on Tuesday. But that’s not the only election in which Michigan voters will be casting ballots this week.

Voters in more than 50 Michigan counties will be casting ballots on Tuesday.

There’s the usual mix of school and library millages.

There are also numerous local primary elections.

Voters in parts of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Lansing and other cities will be voting for local city council seats.

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Environment & Science
4:54 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

State issues permit for Ford Airport’s proposed treatment system to prevent bioslime

Bioslime that forms in the winter months in a creek near the Ford Airport.
Ryan Grant MDEQ

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids will build a new treatment system to prevent a film of smelly, nuisance bioslime from building up on a nearby river. That’s after the state issued the airport a discharge permit on Friday.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality says the smelly bioslime is not a human health hazard. It’s formed by bacteria that eat the deicing fluids used on airplanes in the winter months. The state says the airport has until 2015 to stop the bioslimes.

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Business
6:24 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

CEO of office furniture giant Steelcase to retire in February 2014

Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett
Courtesy photo Steelcase

Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett announced to the company’s board of directors during an annual shareholder meeting Wednesday he’ll retire early next year. Hackett led the Grand Rapids-based company for 19 years.

“I couldn't be happier about what Steelcase has become and where we're headed,” Hackett said, “But it's time to provide opportunity to others, and time for me to pursue some other interests. While continuing to run the company with as much energy and excitement as I did when I took the role in 1994, I'll also ready myself for the next chapter in my life.”

Steelcase has been around for more than a hundred years. But over the last decade the recession and technology have forced all the big office furniture companies in West Michigan to adapt to major changes in how and where people work.

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Arts & Culture
11:59 am
Sat July 13, 2013

Ford at 100

President Gerald R. Ford
The National Archives

Michigan celebrates what would have been President Gerald R. Ford's 100th birthday this weekend.

Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and attended the University of Michigan in his youth.

Jim Kratsas is the Deputy Director at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids. He says the late president's legacy is known around his native Michigan.

“It's a time to celebrate Michigan's favorite son,” says Kratsas.

He says the late president was also deeply involved in the local community.

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Stateside
5:36 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Grand Rapids and DC musicians team up to release a new album

Phil Stancil and Matt Warn
Facebook

An interview with Phil Stancil and Matt Warn.

Midnight Faces is a music duo consisting of Phil Stancil - he's been playing around Grand Rapids since he was in grade school - and Matt Warn - a product of the Philadelphia music scene who now lives in Washington DC.

The pair has been able to work around that distance between Grand Rapids and D.C. to come up with their debut full-length album and gear up to play dates in the U.S. and possibly Japan.

Phil Stancil and Matt Warn joined us from Grand Rapids.

Their website is midnightfaces.com and their album "Fornication" will be released June 18th. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
4:58 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Watch Michigan change over time using Google's 'Earth Engine'

Images from Google's Earth Machine.
Google

My kids love using Google Earth. With the push of a button they "fly" from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Newfoundland, the Panama Canal, the Great Barrier Reef, or some other place they're curious about.

Now Google has mined satellite images from the U.S. government that allow us to fly back in time.

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Arts & Culture
3:07 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

West Michigan’s largest planetarium to undergo major technology upgrades

The planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum
Grand Rapids Public Museum facebook.com

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium is getting a major upgrade.

The planetarium is popular; pulling in about 60,000 visitors a year. But it uses technology that's almost two decades old. GRPM spokeswoman Kate Moore says the upgrade will make a huge difference.

“Right now our shows, not only are they out of date technology wise, but some of the information is not shown in the best way that’s possible. They’re not at maximum capabilities to what, especially students, but also the general public is used to seeing these days,” Moore said.

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Arts & Culture
8:00 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Giving the gift of music to at-risk kids in Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth

Every once and a while, our State of Opportunity team receives a story pitch from someone in the community who's trying to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth. This is one of those stories. It’s a piece about boys, girls, and the universal language of music.

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