Roadblock Ahead


    Showspan Inc. will produce the fifth annual Michigan International Auto Show next winter, as it has for first four events.

    But who will be in charge of the sixth is uncertain.

    Showspan and the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association had a falling out following the fourth show held last February and both groups have approached the Convention and Arena Authority for the right to produce the yearly new-car showcase starting in 2004.

    But only one is likely to get the board’s nod unless a compromise can be worked out.

    “There are a number of legal issues involved here,” said LewChamberlin, chair of the board’s Operations Committee, the group charged with looking into the matter and making a recommendation to the full board.

    Chamberlin said both organizations pleaded their cases before his committee last month, and he was waiting for an opinion from CAA counsel DickWendt on the board’s legal position in the dispute.

    In the meantime, Chamberlin said the Operations Committee would continue to analyze the situation and would likely have more information for the board at the CAA’s next meeting in August.

    • Byron Center State Bank, which had been operating under a federal “memorandum of understanding,” apparently has run into some difficulties with federal regulators. The bank, which has been on a significant growth curve, is being help up from expansion by the feds.

    Word also has it that some BCSB employees are calling around to test the job market.

    • Let’s see, next to a sculpture park filled with a bevy of beautiful pieces of art, or next to the big screen where entertainment is celebrated on a daily basis?

    That’s the question observers have after seeing Hooters of Grand Rapids listed among the mortgages filed recently with the Kent County Register of Deeds.

    Grand Rapids Township is the destination, and either of the above locations would work well in terms of traffic.

    And with a mortgage of more than $291,000, one should be able to get a nice Hooters.

    • What don’t you understand about the word “private”? The guests on Friday’s West Michigan Week television program were Fred Meijer, Hank Meijer and Doug Meijer, the braintrust behind privately held and family operated Meijer Inc.

    Panelist Carole Valade-Copenhaver, editor of Grand Rapids Business Journal, asked Fred whether the one-stop shopping chain was still seeing revenue increase despite competition from such industry giants as Wal-Mart. Fred responded that Meijer saw revenue last year, the year before that and the year before that, too.

    When pressed for a ballpark revenue figure, however, the elder Meijer responded in typical Fred fashion. “Ah,” he said, smiling and waving his hand.

    End of discussion.

    Need further proof? Last week Fred and LenaMeijer named the new Spectrum Health outpatient cancer center in honor of friends Harvey Lemmen, and Earl and DonnaleeHolton

    You don’t get to name a building unless you give a lot of money toward it. So how much have the Meijers contributed to the cause?

    Ah. That’s private too.

    • Here’s one from the “duh” file. Low-income Americans are much more concerned about basic needs such as housing, health care and education than they are about homeland security, according to a survey by St. John’s University of New York and Denver-based affordable housing developer Mercy Housing.

    Housing was the top priority for low-income people polled, while health care and education were a close second and third. Concern about terrorism, the study concluded, ranked as a much lower priority.

    No kidding. Maybe people who have an average income of $15,280, as those in the survey did, are a bit more concerned about how to buy a home. The median price of an existing home nationally, by the way, was $154,000 in May, up 6.6 percent from a year earlier.

    • While the price of homes is going up, the amount of money coming in is going down. That’s the latest trend from the Conference Board. Average salary gains in many key sectors, including manufacturing, trade and utilities, have begun falling for the first time in nine years.

    Although most employees will still receive an average 4 percent increase in 2003, a larger proportion of all employee groups will receive lower increases both this year and next than in preceding years, according to the report.

    One redeeming factor, however, will be tame inflation. The Conference Board predicts only a mild 1.5 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index this year and a 2.6 percent hike in the CPI next year, both of which should be below the average salary increases.

    • Last week Street Talk reported that Forest Hills Public Schools administrator JimPitcher is heading over to Grand Rapids Public Schools to oversee that district’s finances.

    Not true, says Pitcher, at least not in a permanent capacity. Pitcher, who about 13 years ago worked for GRPS, has been asked by GR Superintendent BertBleke to help with an unofficial audit of that district’s finances. “I’m happy to help Bert,” Pitcher said, “but I’m staying here.”

    • In case you’re keeping track, the survey question of the week at the Business Journal’s Website,, asked if new legislation to control health care costs by enabling HMOs to employ deductibles as well as co-pays in their care plans was a good idea. Of those responding, 62.5 percent would be interested in such an option and 37.5 percent would be against the deductible idea. And, as is the norm with the subject of health insurance premiums, no one was on the fence. Every respondent had an opinion.

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