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West Michigan CEOs who are pushing to open their businesses

April 26, 2020

Last week, the West Michigan Policy Forum (WMPF) hosted an online forum with CEOs talking about how to get Michigan businesses up and running.

This discussion from the WMPF happened the day before Gov. Whitmer announced another extension of the stay-at-home, with the extension going til May 15. However, there will be some relaxation of the previous order, allowing some sectors to open, particularly the lawn and garden industry, greenhouses, boating and golf courses.

The WMPF event involved Amway President Doug DeVos as the moderator, with several CEOs offering information on their respective businesses, along with a few other voices in the mix.

The hour-long forum was recorded and you can watch the video on the WMPF Facebook page, at this link.

In his opening comments, DeVos made the point that, “we are very alined with what Sen. Shirkey’s plan is.” We wrote about Senator Mike Shirkey’s plan on Tuesday

Another important thing that Doug DeVos mentioned had to do with regulations that have slowed the business community down for years, and that “once we come back from this crisis, maybe some of those could be changed or eliminated.” Such a statement comes as no surprise, since the West Michigan Policy Forum has more than a decade of working to change state policy in ways that benefits their interests. Deregulation would be the next logical step for this group.

The CEOs and other executives that took part in the online forum were:

  • Mike VanGessel, the CEO of Rockford Construction,
  • Bill Dobbins, Caster Concepts
  • Brian Cooper, ELCo Enterprises, Inc.
  • Kelly Presta Sturgis Molded Products
  • Kurk Wilks, Mann + Hummel
  • Matthew Haworth, Chairman of Haworth
  • Ron Geisman, Lomar Machine & Tool
  • Steve London, Bekum America
  • Birgid Klohs, CEO of the Right Place Inc.
  • John Hendrickson, C=H Solutions
  • Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage
  • Jase Bolger, WMPF advisor
  • Mike Hill, Coldbrook Insurance
  • Johnny Brann Jr., Brann’s Restaurants,

Several of these businesses are in West Michigan, specifically in Grand Rapids. It is interesting that there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in the Grand Rapids area, just within the last week. Therefore, while the business community in West Michigan continues to push for “re-opening” the state’s economy, they are ignoring the fact that COVID-19 cases are up in Grand Rapids. Having more people go back to work will most likely put more people are risk of contracting the coronavirus. Thus, these business leaders are taking a very similar position as those who protested in Lansing on April 15, a position that says, “profits before people.”

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