Business regions remain linked


    The One Michigan, Bridging 96 collaborative initiative between the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Crain’s Detroit Business has been suspended, at least temporarily. The publishers’ final message is restated below.

    “Welcome to the final issue of the Bridging 96 e-newsletter, the biggest media collaborative effort concerning business in the State of Michigan. Behind the effort were Michigan’s two leading business publications: Crain’s Detroit Business and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

    Over the past 13 months, this collaborative effort has focused on creating a “regional bridge” between Southeast and West Michigan and an exchange of ideas and opinions that could help Michigan move forward. We believe these goals continue to be important, but we have decided to approach this coverage in our separate ways. Stay tuned for future announcements.

    Both organizations share similar missions and goals in their respective regions, look forward to serving your business news and information needs, and are optimistic that you will continue to find value in the stories we share, innovations we uncover and best practices we explore from around the state.

    We will continue to promote business growth and more efficiency by government units at all levels. We want to spur the overall economy into moving forward.”

    John H. Zwarensteyn, President/CEO/Publisher, Gemini Publications

    Mary Kramer, Publisher, Crain’s Detroit Business

    The B-96 project was launched following two regional policy conferences: the May 2008 Detroit Policy Conference, held on Mackinac Island, and the September 2008 West Michigan Regional Policy Conference, held in Grand Rapids. The two conferences created the opportunity and enthusiasm (the “buzz”), and both publications saw this as a way to bridge the gulf that, historically, has separated the two regions, at least by perception.

    This type of media collaboration does not happen easily or often. Our intent was to share the best ideas for improving the state’s economy and quality of life through the collaborative efforts of Michigan’s two leading business publications. They reflect Michigan’s two major metro areas, which share some basic economic challenges and problems, whether trying to improve public K-12 education, trying to attract and retain “millennials” to the work force, finding new options (and funding) for public transit, or even coping with diversity and race-relations issues. Each region had, and still has, strengths and shortcomings.

    The Bridging 96 audience represented Michigan’s top business minds, and the e-newsletter helped to create a “regional bridge” and an exchange of ideas and opinions that could help galvanize Michigan into moving forward. Many of Michigan’s leading companies, organizations and people signed on as sponsors and early champions.

    A few days after the launch, however, the bottom dropped out of the national and international economy. Michigan, already in a deepening recession, was caught in the subsequent maelstrom. The ripple effects hit the automotive, manufacturing, financial and real estate industries especially hard.

    We identified high-energy people from both regions. They provided us with great stories and ideas. The management and staff of Crain’s Detroit Business have been great partners in this noble effort. We shared common interests and concerns.

    The issues that prompted the B-96 project remain to be solved. But as the economy changed and the needs of the business community changed, the two publications agreed to take a pause, survey subscribers, reflect on current shortcomings and issues, and evaluate new ideas and programs.

    Once we complete that due diligence, we will determine how the collaborative partnership of Michigan’s two leading business news organizations, Crain’s Detroit Business and the Grand Rapids Business Journal, can better serve the needs of our respective regions, the state, and the initiatives that will help create a stronger, healthier and more competitive Michigan.

    We will continue to focus our energies on local business, but we can’t ignore regional and state issues and their impact on business sustainability and growth. We will endorse efforts to streamline, modernize and create efficiencies in government units at all levels.

    Finally, our goal remains, as it always has been for 26 years, to report news and information, and continue to cover initiatives and best practices that will spur Michigan’s economy into moving forward. We can’t accept status quo or backward moves.

    We appreciate your support. Your comments are welcome.

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