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Local Capitalist Predictions for 2013: More Growth, More Profits

December 27, 2012

With the New Year just around the corner, lots of people are making predictions for 2013.

Lots of people I know are hoping to find work, make enough to take care of their families or to get medical treatment, even though most of the people I know don’t have health care insurance.Picture 2

I also know people who are hoping that the New Year brings justice to their lives, whether that is justice for the immigrant community, the LGBTQ community or women who continue to fight for reproductive rights and safe communities.

The business community is also joining in on the 2013 predictions, although their predictions and aspirations are much different than the majority of the population.

MiBiz just published their 2013 Crystal Ball edition. In it they ask local CEOs and other managers within the economically privileged sectors of West Michigan to weigh in on what 2013 will bring for them and their interests.

Let’s start with comments from the Chairman and President of Amway Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos. Amway set a record with more than $10.9 billion in sales last year, the company’s sixth consecutive year of sales growth and its second in a row in which U.S. sales increased. In other words, the DeVos and Van Andel familes continue to add to their already obscene amounts of wealth. Here are perils of wisdom from DeVos and Van Andel.

We tend to be optimists. The economy is going through some tough times, but we really have a lot of faith in it. For us, it’s not only the people here in the States, but it’s the entrepreneurs around the globe. We tend to be optimistic in them and what they do and how well they do. We think that makes a huge difference in the future and in the future of our business. Our business looks good, but we think the economy, on a global basis, has a lot of optimism to it. I think there’s potential everywhere.

Wow. Here is an example of talking, but not saying anything. Of course they are optimistic. The world is ripe for exploiting and they continue to find new markets for their products. Along the way, the DeVos and Van Andel families continue to influence economic policies based on their financial contributions to federal and state lawmakers and political parties.

Other members of the upper crust in West Michigan talked a great deal about the potential for growth. CEO of Wolverine Worldwide Blake Krueger says, “while the footwear industry is not recession-proof, there is always a good deal of consumer ‘need’ as well as ‘want,’ allowing our industry to do relatively well in more challenging times because the purchase of a new pair of shoes can be an easy way for a person to feel good when times are tough.” Apparently, Krueger has no idea what most people do when they are having tough times, but buying a pair of shoes is not even an affordable option for most people in the world who are struggling financially.

Mark Bissell (Bissell CEO) also touts the growth mantra when saying, “International … for us is a growth market. Bissell, which has eliminated hundreds of jobs locally over the past decade is now manufacturing outside the US for increase global sales, brining vacuum cleaners to the world.3618537795_5afc17a428_o

Another theme that is repeated by area business people is the idea of creating and retaining talent. People are now seen as talent, instead of unique individuals that have value and worth just for being human.

Birgit Klohs with The Right Place Inc. says, “We’re amping up our marketing both locally in terms of retention and expansion, domestically with site consultants and trade shows and internationally in collaboration with the MEDC.”

The President of GVSU Thomas Haas makes it clear that his university is primarily about creating workers for local and state industry, when he says:

To be in the business of talent development, you have to look ahead and see what types of skills sets and business are out there currently and into the future. We are continually looking at what type of curriculum is broad enough to provide the skill sets that the business community wants.

The new head of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Kristopher Larsen, makes it clear that the DDA’s function is to facilitate profit making for those businesses that operate in the downtown area. He states, “The DDA is interested in furthering its investment and those types of projects that have the ability to catalyze additional investment. Our primary focus is leveraging and how can we spend a dollar and (have) that dollar leverage four. First and foremost, it’s going to be a continued investment in the river, and (projects that don’t) equate to large dollar signs.

These are just some of the comments made by the economic elite and social managers in West Michigan. Nothing they have to say reflects an interest in the well-being of all people in the area, particularly those who don’t have much of a role in growing markets that will bring greater profits for the 1%.

There was nothing terribly revealing in these comments, but it is always good to know what the priorities of the powerful are, especially for those at the grassroots level who are organizing to dismantle such centers of power and create a world that is not dictated by growth and talent.

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