Lets Hear It For The Boys


    Two, four, six, eight … Who do we appreciate?

    Lawyers! Lawyers! Lawyers!

    OK, that’s probably a cheer most people have yet to hear.

    But it makes sense for next week Tuesday, when the local women lawyers take on the judges in their 18th annual grudge match (read: fundraiser).

    The evening, which benefits the YMCA’s domestic violence program, begins with a 6 p.m. picnic at Riverside Park’s Field No. 4. The softball game begins at 6:30 p.m.

    The Whitecaps’ Crash the River Rascal and his nephew, Crush, will throw out the first pitch, and spectators can enjoy admission, hot dogs, popcorn and drinks for their $10 tickets.

    But this year there will be even more to see.

    As MelGibson proved, it takes a real man to wear a skirt (Bravehart) and pantyhose (What Women Want), but a merry band of male attorneys is up to the challenge in the spirit of fun and games.

    At least 14 of GR’s legal eagles are lending their talents to cheer on the women lawyers. Skirts and pantyhose are not required, but a good sense of humor and plenty of team spirit will be essential.

    And lest you think this is a chance for some of the youngest bucks to score points with their female counterparts, look over the roster and check out the star power.

    FredDilley, of Boyden, Timmons, Dilley & Haney, and president of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, could be considered the head cheerleader.

    But others, such as John Tully of Warner, Norcross & Judd, L. Roland Roegge, of Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge, and Michael Walton, of Rhodes, McKee, Boer, Goodrich & Titta, also have put in plenty of time in leadership positions with the GRBA.

    These legal leaders will be joined by Jon Muth, Bill Jack, Steve Afendoulis, NatePlantinga, Mike Stroster, Kenyatta Brame, Jerry Lykins, Andy Portinga, Steve Drew and Bill Farr

    Of course, men don’t offer to be cheerleaders just because they think it would be something different to do. No, these guys are raising funds in their own right, and their cause is the Legal Assistance Center, which is scheduled to open in September in the new courthouse downtown.

    And they’re doing it by selling themselves (sort of). Persons interested in “sponsoring” a cheerleader can call Kathleen Allen at 774-0672 or Elizabeth Jamieson at 336-6515.

    The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan-Western Region will set up the sponsorships.

    • West Michigan has had a solid connection with Germany for several years now, thanks to the longtime efforts of The Right Place Program President BirgitKlohs and, more recently, Michigan Economic Development Corp. CEO DougRothwell and Gov. JohnEnlger

    Several German firms now operate out of West Michigan, and the tradeoffs in new technology and innovative management styles have been impressive for all involved.

    But now the next step in that “learning partnership” is taking place. Because where commerce thrives, nonprofit associations can’t be far behind.

    That’s why Grand Rapids Community Foundation is hosting its counterpart from Hamburg, Burgerstiftungen, which translates to “community foundation” in German.

    Dr. KlausRollin, a Hamburg attorney and founder and board member of the Burgerstiftung Hamburg, is spending three weeks speaking with the leaders of several nonprofit organizations, businesses and communities throughout West Michigan.

    “I would like to draw on the experiences of one or several community foundations in the USA to help promote our work in Germany,” said Rollin. “My special interests are donor services and fundraising practices and the various ways of working together with public authorities and private organizations. I also think I may be able to transfer some of my knowledge and experience of how to quickly build up a new foundation.”

    Clearly what works in the world of business is now working in the area of nonprofits as well.

    • Another area that seems to be working well is angel investing. When the Business Journal printed a story several weeks ago regarding angel investing, programs such as Right Place and MEDC had to deal with overflow problems regarding those attending conferences on the subject.

    That’s a nice problem to have.

    Now, the MEDC’s angel investor network is off to a flying start.

    In the first “pitching session” on May 18, three companies came before a group of angel investors and presented the business ideas for which they’re seeking funding, said JenniferKopp, an MEDC spokesperson.

    The MEDC began organizing its angel network earlier this year. The organization identified and contacted 25 angel investors with whom it has since formed partnerships.

    Kopp said the MEDC anticipates rounding up more angels as time goes on.

    She recommended that entrepreneurs interested in hooking up with an angel go to the MEDC Web site or call the MEDC’s customer service line.

    “We have people out working on leads of high tech companies. We’re getting the majority of our leads from our account managers who are out there right now.”

    At this time, MEDC is only targeting three sectors: life sciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology.

    The next angel investor meeting is June 21 in Kalamazoo, and it’s by invitation only. The MEDC hopes to make the meetings a monthly event, Kopp said.

    Individuals and companies invited to come before the angels are selected by a group of angel volunteers who decide which deals are more attractive from an investment standpoint, she noted. Entrepreneurs pitching their ideas are free to continue discussions after the formal meetings.

    Angel investors are accredited investors under federal and state securities laws. They’re generally identified as people whose net worth is more than $1 million or who have an annual income in excess of $200,000.

    They tend to be wealthy individuals who prefer to maintain privacy and anonymity and prefer to put their fortunes to work in privately placed deals.

    According to the MEDC, angels are more interested in helping to build a new company and typically invest at the seed and start-up stages in the life of a venture. They’re also more likely to invest in start-ups in their own particular area of business expertise or interest.

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