Weather, or not: Paige turns the tables on meteorology


    “I’m seeing a few clients and trying to build the business. Most people don’t even realize what a consulting meteorologist is,” said Linda Paige.

    Paige, who reported the weather for WZZM 13, left the station in June to work as a full-time certified consulting meteorologist. A few weeks ago, she talked about what she does at a meeting of Sunrise Rotary in Grand Rapids. She caught the attention of one member who is an attorney, because her clients include law firms and insurance companies.

    If there is an insurance claim or a lawsuit that hinges on alleged weather conditions, a consulting meteorologist can provide a more precise picture of what the weather was like at the scene. Meteorological observations that become the basis of published or broadcast weather reports are taken at airports — and the accident in question may have taken place many miles away from that airport.

    One of Paige’s clients is Cannonsburg Ski Lodge.

    “They need detailed specific weather information for making snow, so that they can get the most out of their equipment and use it most efficiently,” she said. In other words: Don’t make a lot of snow tonight if it’s going to melt in 40-degree weather tomorrow.

    Paige said weather has been her passion since she was a kid.

    “And I have to say, the hours are much better these days. Since I left the TV station, I don’t have to get up at one o’clock in the morning anymore.”

    Paige said there are five consulting meteorologists working in Michigan; she is the only one west of Lansing.

    Speaking of west: What’s going to happen this winter in West Michigan?

    Paige published her opinion at, for all the world to see.

    “I’m going with 82.5 inches of snow,” she said. The average is 72.

    She predicts the average temperature from Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 will be 26.5 degrees. The average is 25 degrees.

    Some victories evident

    The temp might be a bit colder for those in the local real estate industry for the rest of the winter, as they face a tough year of declining property values and more expected foreclosures. But they might warm up a tad knowing that the Institute of Real Estate Management is on their side.

    IREM’s PR director, Sharon Peters, said the Chicago-based industry advocacy won a few battles for them on Capitol Hill this year, not an easy feat considering the bickering and backsliding we saw from a number of Washington politicians. Here is one.

    “The big banks in real estate fight finally ended — and we won!” proclaimed Peters in a news release last week.

    Peters was referring to the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations Act that permanently bans banks from entering the real estate brokerage and management business. She said IREM worked hard with the National Association of Realtors to block the rule proposed back in 2001. Peters said they won that bout by showing Congress the rule was “inconsistent with banking law, bad for consumers and bad for banking.”

    Another battle deals with energy in a bill passed by the U.S. House. The legislation originally included energy audits of all properties, required energy labels for all buildings and disclosure of all findings at the sale or lease of a property. But Peters said the final version of the bill doesn’t contain the audit and only requires an energy label for new construction. Kind of like the ones you find on a new refrigerator or water heater? We’re not sure.

    “This was a major victory, which required lots of political manpower — including being an issue at the 2009 Capitol Hill Visit Day,” said Peters. “IREM continues to work with senators to ensure the same harmful provisions are not included.”

    Wages, salaries up some

    The Employers’ Association has released its 2009-2010 Wage & Salary Survey. Nearly 200 West Michigan companies contributed data to the benchmarking tool that provides detailed compensation information for 337 jobs common to the region.

    Several key findings emerge from the data as reported by Maggie McPhee, the association’s director of information services:

    Wages and salaries increased by an average of 2 percent from 2008 for all reported jobs.  In that the number of employees reported in most jobs was down from previous years, a 2 percent increase in reported earnings could be a result of the elimination of lower-paid workers.

    Reported overtime hours were down significantly from last year.

    Nearly half of the reported “job families” indicated an increase in pay. Human Resources, Quality Control, Medical Support, Engineering and Information Technology (service/support job families) registered significant increases.

    Pay adjustments were not “across the board.” Lower level jobs reported lower adjustments (less than 2 percent) while key management positions reported a higher pay adjustment (greater than 2.5 percent).

    The compensation gap between small and large companies is decreasing slightly as small companies tended to give larger increases than did large companies during the past year.

    Very little difference exists in overall pay rates based on region (five regions in the Grand Rapids area are reported).

    A significant difference exists between jobs within different industry types (Manufacturing, Service, Professional, Non-Profit, etc.).

    The number of companies providing variable pay programs increased, while the amount of incentive pay distributed decreased slightly.

    The Wage & Salary Survey is provided to participating members of The Employers’ Association at no charge.

    Entrepreneurs sought

    Momentum announced it is accepting applications for its 2010 program. Momentum is a pre-seed stage funding and incubation program that provides initial investments, mentoring and business launch assistance to entrepreneurs who have innovative Web technology and application ideas.

    “I began Momentum last year to discover new startup ideas in Michigan and keep our creative capital here,” said Rick DeVos, CEO of Pomegranate Studios and the program’s founder, in a news release.

    Momentum was launched spring 2009 as a partnership between The Windquest Group, Pomegranate Studios and economic development group Lakeshore Advantage. It has since grown into a collective of entrepreneurs, investors, business professionals, universities and entrepreneur support organizations, all with a shared vision: to retain Michigan’s talent, launch new tech ventures, and help cultivate our region’s entrepreneurial community and culture, DeVos said.

    Momentum’s inaugural year received nearly 30 applications from aspiring tech entrepreneurs and funded three start-ups — Downstream, Public Collections and Revetto — which each received $20,000 in pre-seed funding and help in developing their technologies, business plan and investor pitch. The program ended with a Demo Day, where the companies pitched their ideas to a second round of investors. Momentum continues to support the companies with advisement and links to ongoing capital resources.

    “Momentum had a very successful inaugural year”, said Amanda Chocko, director of entrepreneurial development at Lakeshore Advantage and Momentum’s program director. “We had three great startups, a strong program, fabulous mentors and tremendous community support. Momentum 2010 is promising to be even more exciting.”

    “We are working to make Momentum 2010 a stronger, more rounded program”, said Bill Holsinger-Robinson, president of Pomegranate Studios and director of Momentum. “Everything from our application process to our programming has been redesigned to turn these startups into viable, profitable companies.”

    Momentum 2010 will select up to five startup teams, with each team made up of two to three company founders. The application process will begin with a written application and video pitch, due on Feb. 12, followed by a submitted pitch deck and in-person interviews. The Momentum community will review the applications and contact the top candidates in late February. The selected applicants must be prepared to come to West Michigan for in-person interviews during the week of March 22.

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