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My Town GR Central: Economic Bright Spot Award goes to Varnum

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –  Varnum is among the companies being honored with a 2014 Michigan Economic Bright Spot Award from Corp! Magazine.

The magazine selected winners based on their growth over the past year, as well as their impact on the state's economy.  Varnum earned the distinction in part because of its MiSpringboard program, through which the firm will give away up to $1 million in legal services to new and developing businesses over a five-year period.  The company's innovative pricing models designed to deliver budget predictability to clients also played a role.

Varnum partner Eric Nemeth accepted the firm's award during a recent ceremony at VisTaTech Center in Livonia.

My Town: Consumers Energy Foundation awards nearly $39K to nonprofits

My Town: Consumers Energy Foundation awards nearly $39K to nonprofits

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—Dozens of nonprofit organizations that are close to the hearts of Consumers Energy employees are getting a financial boost.

The Consumers Energy Foundation recently awarded 78 grants worth $38,350 to organizations in Michigan where Consumers employees and retirees volunteer.  Last year, nonprofits in the state received more than $8 million from Consumers Energy and its employees, retirees, foundation and parent company, CMS Energy.  

The 2014 second quarter grant recipients include:

Allegan County

  • $450 to Fennville Public Schools Youth Baseball (Loren Barnes)
  • $550 to Fennville Public Schools Youth Football (Loren Barnes)

Ionia County

  • $550 to Portland Public Schools Wrestling Club (Chad Miller)

Kalamazoo County

My Town Grand Haven: Fortino's for sale

My Town Grand Haven: Fortino's for sale

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.—A Grand Haven mainstay that’s been in business for more than a century is about to change hands.

Fortino's is for sale.  Three generations of the Fortinos have owned and operated the downtown business for more than 107 years.  However, with the latest owners preparing to retire and the fourth generation already involved in other careers and endeavors, there is no one left in the family to take over the shop.

Dave Ten Cate with Capstone Real Estate says the business is constantly growing and a cornerstone in the community, with many children making a Saturday pilgrimage to the store for candy.  Ten Cate says there have been some inquiries since the business went on the market, but no contracts have been signed.  For additional information, contact Capstone at (616) 847-1031.

My Town: Grand Haven Art Festival returns for 53rd year

My Town: Grand Haven Art Festival returns for 53rd year

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.—You don’t have to wait until ArtPrize to enjoy a celebration centered around art.

The Grand Haven Art Festival returns to Washington Avenue weekend.  This is the 53rd year for the event, which will feature art and artists from across the country.  Pieces for sale will include pottery, jewelry, painting, glasswork and photography.   Visitors are encouraged to check out the artwork and pick out a unique decorative piece for their home or office.

The Grand Haven Art Festival will run 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 28 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 29.  Admission is free.  For more information, visit the Grand Haven Art Festival Facebook page or event website.

My Town: Job outlook for the area largely positive

My Town: Job outlook for the area largely positive

KENT COUNTY, Mich.—Despite the harsh winter, businesses in West Michigan added 9,500 jobs during the first quarter of 2014.

That’s according to a newly released report by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Analysts found employment in West Michigan’s six metropolitan areas jumped 1.1 percent.    The biggest increases were reported in manufacturing and private service sectors.   

In the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area, employers added 7,200 jobs in the first quarter, driving down the area’s unemployment rate to 5.8 percent.   Analysts say there was solid growth across all sectors, and they expect the job market to remain strong in the coming months.

My Town Grand Haven: Business complex to be rebuilt after roof collapse

My Town Grand Haven: Business complex to be rebuilt after roof collapse

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.—Repairs are coming to a business damaged by the harsh West Michigan winter.

In April, heavy snow caused a portion of the roof to collapse at 725 Taylor Ave.   The 80,000 square foot facility is home to multiple businesses.  CD Barnes Construction was called in to demolish a 7,000 square foot portion of the building that was deemed unsafe by engineers.  Now the Grand Haven business is teaming up with NPI Holdings to rebuild the facility.  Construction is expected to begin later this month and wrap up early this fall.

The building at 725 Taylor Ave. once served as a temporary home to D. Baker and Son Lumber, which was forced to relocate after heavy snow crushed its roof in 2011.  The 143-year-old business has since moved into a new warehouse located on the same site.

My Town: Former office space transformed into sweet treat escape

My Town: Former office space transformed into sweet treat escape

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.—The Pump House is celebrating the opening of its second frozen yogurt bar in downtown Grand Haven.

The new shop celebrated its soft (and tasty) opening June 6 inside the facility that formally housed Wirick Office Products, at 20 North Harbor Drive.  Construction crews spent several months renovating the 3,300 square foot space, creating a vintage beach shack atmosphere that complements the community.  The new yogurt bar features reclaimed wood, a toppings bar resembling a boat and Adirondack chairs and swings lining the facility’s windows.  The menu includes more than 100 toppings and 14 yogurt pumping stations.