Street Talk: The Moose is loose


The first Moosejaw Mountaineering store on the west side of the state is coming to Grand Rapids.

The Madison Heights-based company is coming to this side of the state after opening stores in Colorado, Illinois and Missouri. The company has several Detroit-area stores and one in East Lansing.

The company’s director of retail, Nick Rau, confirmed there is a store coming to Grand Rapids, near the Downtown Market at Klingman Lofts.

For a company based in a state with plenty of outdoor activities, it’s perplexing West Michigan has remained off the map for the retailer, especially as the city has limited options in terms of retailers specializing in outdoor activities.

Moosejaw was founded in Keego Harbor — about four miles southwest of Pontiac — by friends Robert Wolfe and David Jaffee in 1992.

The retailer has been recognized as a top internet marketing company by the New York Times and Outside Magazine. Moosejaw sells clothing, jackets, footwear, hiking and camping supplies, climbing equipment, water and winter sports apparel and more by companies such as The North Face, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, Marmot, Black Diamond, Kuhl, Billabong, Chaco, Keen, Mizuno, Salomon, Merrell, Mammut, MSR, Gregory, Osprey, Camelbak and Icebreaker.

Will Moosejaw draw business away from local companies such as Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus and MC Sporting Goods? It’s too soon to tell, obviously, but there also have been rumors of Washington-based REI coming to town, so they should, as Moosejaw’s slogan suggests, “Love the Madness.”

Cool school

As Davenport University President Richard Pappas put it, “Davenport was cool when I got here,” and had been for the 143 years preceding Pappas' arrival to the school in 2009.

Now, anyone who's interested can read all about it. In conjunction with the school's 150th anniversary, Margaret Moceri and Thomas Brown co-authored a book titled “Davenport: Educating Across Three Centuries,” outlining the school’s growth from its founding as Grand Rapids Business College in 1866 through present day.

Moceri, the granddaughter of school namesake Michael Edward Davenport, and Brown, who retired as Davenport's provost in 2011, compiled hundreds of photos and stories represented in the 283-page hardcover history of the school.

“Davenport: Educating Across Three Centuries” separates the school’s history across six eras. “The institution debuts” covers the founding of the school by Civil War veteran Conrad Swensberg,with “A new beginning” picking up in 1910 and M.E. Davenport's rebuilding of the school through 1959. The final era covers the beginning of Pappas' tenure in 2009 and runs through present day.

Davenport employees received a copy of the book at the university’s annual Davenfest celebration, and it is available for purchase at for $44.95.

Davenport's year-long celebration of the school's sesquicentennial, which began in January with the unveiling of a new history wall in the Robert W. Sneden Center, will culminate with the Founders’ 150th Anniversary gala Sept. 29 at DeVos Place.

A walk to remember

A Sunday walk in the park is about more than just relaxation for one West Michigan business owner and her employees.

When Gricelda Mata’s workers at Lindo Mexico Restaurant in Wyoming expressed how important the issues surrounding mental illness are to them and how it has affected their families, Mata said she knew she needed to do something.

Mata and the Lindo Mexico team will be participating in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk from 1-3 p.m. Sept. 18, at Millennium Park, 1415 Maynard Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, to help raise awareness about mental health issues and suicide.

An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — or more than one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year and still have to face daily life. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services lists suicide as the second leading cause of death among young people, with statistics showing 90 percent of those who take their own lives had a mental illness.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health, but too often, stigma associated with mental health issues still stands in the way of people seeking the help they need,” Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said.

Lindo Mexico Restaurant employees will wear “honor beads” during Sunday’s walk to indicate their connections to the cause: white, lost a child; red, lost a spouse or partner; orange, lost a sibling; silver, lost first responder or military member; gold, lost a parent; purple, lost a relative or friend; green, struggled personally; blue, showing support; and teal, friends and family of someone who struggles.

“Our restaurant is very community-minded. We do many things outside of these four walls,” Mata said. “Myself and my employees love taking care of our customers, but employees have personal lives, too. You cannot stand for your employees without standing behind your employees. Lindo Mexico is not only a restaurant, but a family. We support our family.”

Higher learning

According to a statewide data release issued last week by Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s public universities have continued their track record of achievement with higher graduation and retention rates, improved student/staff ratios and growth in the number of degrees awarded, particularly in critical skills areas.

BLM tracks the data as a way to underscore the contributions higher education can make to Michigan’s overall economy. A report issued by the group in early 2015 showed the sector’s potential to help make the state one of the nation’s Top 10 economic performers.

“This year’s results show a higher education sector that’s seizing on some of the most essential work and priorities needed to strengthen Michigan for the long term,” said Doug Rothwell, BLM president and CEO. “They’re growing their enrollments and awarding the degrees our economy needs most. They’re also focused on meeting the needs of individual students in ways that are most likely to ensure their future success — and, thereby, making Michigan stronger, too.”

BLM said nine of 15 public universities increased their enrollments and 11 have six-year graduation rates that increased in the past year. Other highlights include better student retention rates, awarding more critical skills degrees and overall degrees, improved affordability and access to higher education and increased expenditures on research.

“These results are particularly extraordinary when we consider the economic environment in which these institutions are operating,” Rothwell said. “Without exception, state appropriations for each of Michigan’s public universities dropped during the same time period they were making such hefty contributions to our state’s future prosperity. College costs are rising, and even though we have started reinvesting in our public universities over the last five years, state support is still behind our competitors.”

Rothwell said Michigan ranks 36th among all U.S. states for the amount it appropriates to its public higher education institutions. Even more alarming, he said, the state is eighth worst in the nation for the amount of student debt public university graduates carry with them after graduation.

“That our public higher education institutions are achieving as well as they are speaks volumes about the innovative strategies and leadership capacity they share,” Rothwell said. “As a state, we simply must do better to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.”

BLM identifies higher education as one of the state’s six New Michigan opportunity areas, indicating it offers strong promise as a driver of statewide prosperity.

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