Street Talk: A dose of cloud control


ChoiceOne Bank reached a new digital milestone.

Through a partnership with Detroit-based fintech company Autobooks formed in January 2018, ChoiceOne Bank has sent over $1 million in digital invoices for small business clients throughout West Michigan.

Autobooks is an intelligent, cloud-based, small business accounting platform that automatically integrates bank accounts with financial tools that speed cash flow, reconcile accounts and accelerate growth.

“Before Autobooks, small business accounting was saturated with single-purpose, expensive and complicated solutions,” said Adom Greenland, COO of ChoiceOne Bank.

“Autobooks introduced us to a simpler way to run a business, which our customers needed. Most of our clients operate their business from the field and need flexible solutions. Autobooks helps us become that one-stop digital destination for small business owners, supporting the backbone of our local economy.”

ChoiceOne Bank was the first financial institution to launch Autobooks.

“Our partnership with ChoiceOne Bank has been exciting and rewarding,” said Steve Robert, co-founder and CEO of Autobooks.

“ChoiceOne was the first financial institution to offer Autobooks to their small business clients because they saw the tremendous benefits our software offered their clients, like improving cash flow. With Autobooks, small businesses can depend on ChoiceOne for back-office services that manage their finances, payments and accounting, all in one convenient place, accessible by desktop or on the go with mobile.”

If Autobooks is deemed a good match for its business customers, ChoiceOne offers it free of a monthly charge for 12 months so customers can try it risk-free.

Small business owners interested in Autobooks can visit

First chair

The Children’s Foundation received more than $1.5 million from Patricia Rodzik to establish an endowed chair.

The Patricia H. Rodzik Endowed Chair for Youth Behavioral Health will provide resources for a leadership position at Detroit-based Children’s Hospital of Michigan and focus on research in the area of mental health in children and young adults.

This is not limited to the Detroit area, as the progress will impact individuals across Michigan in need of behavioral health services. The Children’s Foundation of Michigan said earlier this summer that it’s expanding its presence into West Michigan and plans to establish a physical space by the end of the year. The foundation recently granted nearly $239,000 to several area organizations.

This is the foundation’s first endowed chair in 19 years.

“In the past, I made unrestricted gifts that could be used to support the needs of children that were greatest at that particular time,” Rodzik said. “I wanted this gift to have a specific impact on something big.

“Considering the landscape of children’s health, it became apparent that while the need for mental health care in children has grown over the years, the resources just aren’t there. Doing something significant in this area by creating a leadership research position made sense to me.”

Lawrence Burns, president and CEO of Detroit-based The Children’s Foundation, and Luanne Thomas Ewald, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, will work together to appoint a clinician-scientist who will use the proceeds of the endowment for specially dedicated resources for innovated research, teaching and clinical care.

“Mental health is a focus area for of The Children’s Foundation, and an endowed chair specifically for this topic sets a precedent for mental health as a priority in the community and region,” Burns said.

Rodzik said her long history with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, spanning nearly 40 years, motivated her to make this contribution. Rodzik was a volunteer at the hospital and has had several family members, including a daughter, treated at the hospital. Rodzik served as a Children’s Hospital of Michigan board director for several years and spent much of her time dedicated to supporting hospital efforts.

Gene pool

Van Andel Institute presented scientist Dr. Ellen Sidransky with the 2019 Jay Van Andel Award for Outstanding Achievement in Parkinson’s Disease Research.

Sidransky was the first to link increased risk for Parkinson’s disease to mutations in the gene GBA, which produces an enzyme that breaks down a common lipid located in lysosomes — cells’ internal waste removal systems.

Alterations in GBA are now known to be the most common genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, and is a major target for new experimental medications designed to slow or stop progression, a feat not possible with current treatments.

This 2004 discovery offered new insight into the cellular mechanisms that contribute to Parkinson’s disease and highlighted a role for lysosomes in the disease process.

Sidransky is chief of the section on molecular neurogenetics within the Bethesda, Maryland-based National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

The award was established in 2012 in memory of Van Andel Institute founder Jay Van Andel, who battled Parkinson’s disease for a decade before his death in 2004.

The award is given to scientists who have “made outstanding contributions to Parkinson’s disease research and who have positively impacted human health.”

End of the line

Tech Defenders, a Grand Rapids-based company that focuses on the repurposing and remarketing of mobile electronic devices, was recently awarded the R2, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 certifications for its Grand Rapids Headquarters location.

Being awarded an R2 certification means a company has demonstrated all electronic equipment is being recycled following the highest standards for environmental protection, data privacy and wiping, facility security and worker safety.

The certification is issued by a cooperative of electronics recycling stakeholders including Sustainable Electronics Recycling International. ISO 14001 focuses on environmental management systems, setting criteria under which a system is certified based on EPA Standards, and ISO 45001 is focused on occupational health and safety of the workforce.

“Our company has always practiced responsible disposal and reuse of retired products, but by obtaining these certifications, it provides our partners peace of mind that our company has undergone an extensive audit, which concludes that our procedures align with SERI and EPA standards,” said Connor Sweeney, COO of Tech Defenders.

Both certifications include an extensive audit and continuous improvement of a company’s facility and provide transparency for companies and organizations looking to identify and control their environmental impact and ensure the security of their data or hardware upon retiring those devices.

“Considering the sensitivity around private information and the negative effect of e-waste has on our environment, it is important to choose a partner that invests in certifying its process,” said Pete Terryn, Tech Defenders senior director of operations. “Obtaining these certifications was a long and tedious process, but it was important in providing transparency for current and future partners.”

Safety and security measures throughout Tech Defenders’ facility include gated- and badge-controlled entries and exits, including metal detectors, dock security and security personnel to ensure data privacy and safety for customers, employees and inventory.

Tech Defenders moved into the new facility at 601 Maryland Ave. NE in January 2019, investing $2.7 million in the expansion. The facility has five times the capacity of the company’s previous 15,000-square-foot home at 2350 Oak Industrial Drive NE.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved a $172,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for the project. The company also was assisted by The Right Place in Grand Rapids.

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