Street Talk: Wedding planner


While the Pub at Paddock is generating excitement as the most recent restaurant addition to the historic Paddock mansion, not much has been heard about Greg Gilmore’s plans to convert the mansion into a multiunit housing development.

According to an earlier Business Journal report, Gilmore, CEO of the Gilmore Collection, which owns the Paddock Mansion as a rental for private and corporate events, sat down with the Grand Rapids Historic Preservation Commission in November 2017 to discuss the possibility of developing a 46-unit housing site on the mansion property.

It appears those plans have been put on ice, but more may yet be in store for the 146-year-old estate. Gilmore recently told the Business Journal the HPC did not look favorably on the idea of adding residential dwellings to the property, but it did welcome the idea of adding a ballroom and up to eight rentable cottages for wedding guests.

“I think there’s a huge demand for homes,” Gilmore said of his original plans. “It’s a great estate and well received by the people who live in that area, and just operating a restaurant is a daily challenge.”

The revised plans are tentative at the moment. In the meantime, Gilmore is working on putting together a formal submission for the extension that will go before the HPC. Gilmore hopes to have a document ready by early summer.

The Gilmore Collection will reopen the first-floor barroom as the Pub at Paddock on Jan. 29. All other rooms at Paddock Place still will be open to rent.

Nasty bug

The flu could cost employers over $17 billion in lost productivity this season, according to an estimate by Chicago-based executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Challenger predicts 20 million workers could take four eight-hour days away from work due to the flu. Using the current employment-population ratio of 60.6 percent and the average hourly wage of $27.48, the cost to employers could hit $17.59 billion over the course of the season.

To limit this cost, the firm encourages workplaces nationwide to start preparing for the possibility of flu-related absences and implement practices to prevent infections.

“As last year’s highly severe flu affected people across the country, the nation's employers would be wise to start discussing prevention measures with their workforces,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of the firm.

Last year's flu season sickened nearly 49 million people, 32.5 million of whom were over age 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s age breakdown of flu infections for the 2017-18 season. Last season was the worst since 2009, when that year's H1N1 strain sickened an estimated 60.8 million people, with more than 40 million of those affected over the age of 18.

Of the people sickened, 960,000 were hospitalized, and 79,000 deaths were attributed to flu symptoms.

As of the end of December 2018, flu-like illnesses made up 4.1 percent of cases, up from the national baseline at 2.2 percent. Last year's numbers reached “near-pandemic levels” at 7.7 percent.

The CDC recently implemented surveillance programs to monitor cases of flu due to the severity of the 2017-18 season.

“Even if this season is less severe, which is difficult to say at this point, the impact of losing workers during the flu season is considerable, especially for smaller and midsize firms that may not have the resources to cover absences without disrupting services to clients and customers," Challenger said.

Challenger offered tips to employers to minimize costs:

  • Encourage early vaccination and provide information on nearby sites to do so

  • Increase the number of shifts to reduce the number of people working together at one time

  • Limit unnecessary meetings or conduct them via conference call or video conferencing

  • Expand telecommuting to keep people off public transportation and out of the office

  • Allow sick workers to stay home without fear of losing their jobs

  • Institute flexible leave policies to allow parents to care for sick children

  • Provide no-touch trash cans, hand-washing stations, soap and hand sanitizer

  • Encourage employees to wash their hands frequently, avoid handshakes and take other hygienic precautions, such as disinfecting workplace surfaces, like phones and computers

Gloves come off

As banks and economists all over the U.S. unveil their 2019 economic forecasts, a pair of member associations recently turned the likelihood of a recession into a metaphorical boxing match.

The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Western Michigan and the Turnaround Management Association (TMW) West Michigan met up at a joint event, dubbed “Econo-Off,” on Jan. 15 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids.

Members of both groups listened to “fight announcer” Robert Dye, senior vice president and chief economist for Comerica Bank, present his economic outlook for 2019.

After this, “fight referee” Traci Courter, vice president of commercial risk assets at Mercantile Bank, shared the fight’s “rules of engagement.”

Next, “fight contenders” Daniel Fuller, a partner in BDO’s West Michigan tax practice and the ACG contestant, and David Nemes, a partner at DWH consulting firm and the TWA contestant, flipped a coin and began “a rousing round of prognostication” on the positive indicators versus the risk factors for the economy in 2019.

Organizers polled the crowd at the beginning of the event on their views of whether a recession is coming, when, what will be the contributing forces and which industries will be hardest hit.

After the face-off between Fuller and Nemes, the audience was polled again to show the contrast between baseline and postfight sentiment.

The questions and answers were as follows:

Do you think there will be a recession…

  • Within 6 months? — pre- and post-test: 5%

  • Within 12 months? — pre-test: 43%, post-test: 36%

  • In two to three years? — pre-test: 48%, post-test: 54%

  • Nothing on the horizon — pre-test: 5%, post-test: 6%

What, in your opinion, might precipitate a recession?

  • Rising interest rates — pre-test: 24%, post-test: 14%

  • Increased leverage — pre-test: 19%, post-test: 25%

  • Government shutdown — pre-test: 1%, post-test: 2%

  • Global issues: geopolitical, trade, crisis — pre-test: 47%, post-test: 57%

  • Stock market correction — pre-test: 9%, post-test: 2%

What industry might be most impacted or led into a recession?

  • Technology — pre-test: 11%, post-test: 7%

  • Manufacturing and distribution — pre-test: 62%, post-test: 71%

  • Retail and consumer products — pre-test: 21%, post-test: 15%

  • Natural resources — pre-test: 4%, post-test: 3%

  • Health care — pre-test: 2%, post-test: 4%

What do you believe is most overvalued currently?

  • Publicly traded stocks — pre-test: 27%, post-test: 14%

  • Private equity — pre-test: 40%, post-test: 67%

  • Bonds — pre-test: 3%, post-test: 2%

  • Venture capital — pre-test: 15%, post-test: 7%

  • Emerging markets — pre- and post-test: 5%

  • Other — pre-test: 9%, post-test: 4%

How confident are you in the economy?

  • It’s going to be Armageddon — pre-test: 3%, post-test: 6%

  • I’m going to lose my shirt — pre-test: 22%, post-test: 14%

  • Not sweatin’ it — pre-test: 59%, post-test: 64%

  • Sunny days ahead — pre-test: 16%, post-test: 14%

  • Rip-roaring large boom ahead — pre-test: 0%, post-test: 2%

Source: ACG Western Michigan, compiled by Matthew Wells, marketing manager, Barnes & Thornburg

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