Crain's Grand Rapids Business Brief
MiBiz is now Crain's Grand Rapids Business. WGVU talks with editor Joe Boomgaard and senior writer Mark Sanchez.
Patrick Center: Wednesday afternoon. Time for our bi-monthly conversation with Crain’s Grand Rapids Business, senior writer Mark Sanchez and joining us today as you kick off your launch as Crain’s Grand Rapids Business is Joe Boomgaard who is editor. Thank you for joining us. So, this is now our marquee story today and that is the merger. Joe, what's been transpiring over the last few months?
Joe Boomgaard: I’m the former managing editor and editor of MiBiz for the last 15 and a half years. So, end of August last year, Crain’s came into the market when they acquired the Grand Rapids Business Journal a few months after that at the end of the year, they acquired MiBiz. And so, you know, their intent was to come into this market and start a new brand, which is what we're celebrating the launch of now with the Crain’s Grand Rapids Business.
Patrick Center: This is a merger. Now you're a part of it. The pieces parts and what it is that MiBiz was doing. What Crain’s is really good at. You've got the Grand Rapids Business Journal. So now. it's I would imagine, it's all the best. These are the best of what each does now formulated in one place.
Joe Boomgaard: That's correct. You know, we're really focused on bringing together in my case, anyway, two newsrooms. So, we've, we've essentially doubled our reporting resources in Grand Rapids. We have dedicated reporters on, you know, beats like healthcare, manufacturing, commercial real estate and food and restaurants, retail. So really it's, it's adding some firepower to what each of the publications were able to do separately by coming together, it's really creating a regional powerhouse for business news and information. You know, we're really excited to have those resources behind us. You know, we were each
small organizations coming together it's giving us a new opportunity to serve our readers across West Michigan.
Patrick Center: The Crain’s family has a large umbrella, major cities, Midwestern cities. What has the response been like so far here in West Michigan?
Joe Boomgaard: The business leaders that we've heard from have been really excited about the launch. As you mentioned, Crain’s is a respected name. They're one of the powerhouse organizations when it comes to business media.
For them to recognize an opportunity in this market and, you know, acquire both of our former publications, and create this new brand. It's us really coming in and planning our flag and saying that this is a region that matters. We want to be here. We have a local team. I think it's important to mention that. I've been in this market for more than 15 years. Mark’s been in this market for quite a few years, all our reporters live here. This isn't a Detroit company coming in and running this newsroom. It’s us. We’re here in this community. We're really focused and invested in telling the stories that matter.
Patrick Center: What does your business audience expect from Crain’s?
Joe Boomgaard: They expect us to deliver timely, in-depth and contextual stories. We're very in tune to our readers. All of our reporters are talking to sources on a day-to-day basis. We glean from, from those conversations, the topics that we should be reporting on. We're also doing our own enterprise reporting with some of these additional resources that I mentioned bringing in a statewide voice when it matters. You know, we have somebody in Lansing covering the capitol and, you know, also finding, you know, some of the things that Detroit may be covering that to have meaning on this side of the state. And so, it's, it's being able to find the local stories that matter to our readers and then also, you know, pepper in some of those more statewide issues, issue-based stories that, you know, they need to know of as well.
Patrick Center: How much of the mission is driving relationship building and being a part of programs?
Joe Boomgaard: Relationships are incredibly important in this business.
And that's one of the things that Crain’s brings to the table as well as a whole suite of events and programs for people in the business community, whether it's our Notables, whether it's our Power Breakfast, some of the different awards that we do over the years. It's a way for them to network, for them to have access to other people in the business community.
Patrick Center: And you have the expertise. Take me through your staffing there
and your reporters. And then, of course, will get to Mark because we've got a couple stories that we do want to talk about today.
Joe Boomgaard: Sure. As we mentioned, I'm the editor working alongside me is Andy Balaskovitz. He’s our managing editor. He's been with MiBiz for a few years. And he was a stringer for us for a few years before that and had been in the Lansing market a handful of years ago. And then working with us, some of our beat reporters include Kate Carlson who covers commercial real estate.
We have Abby Poirier who covers food and agribusiness for us as well as some retail topics. And Kayleigh Van Wyk who is our manufacturing tech and law reporter. And also, Rachel Watson. She's on the Crain's Detroit team. She covers statewide tourism, and she also covers residential real estate based in this market. Of course, we have Mark Sanchez.
Patrick Center: Joe, cherish these moments. This is the longest, I think, that Mark has been silent. It's been nearly eight minutes.
Joe Boomgaard: It's a brilliant moment here.
Mark Sanchez: I have my moments.
Patrick Center: You do have your moments and we always enjoy your time.
And you're very gracious with that time also.
Mark Sanchez: And I was going to add to that as well, Patrick and Joe, you know, also on staff is Tim Gortsema. He’s a special projects editor. Tim's been in this market a long time as well. Has some great institutional knowledge and understanding of the market. And take the term Joe used, that just adds to the firepower of this team and what folks can expect of us.
Patrick Center: And its in-depth reporting. So, let's jump into some in-depth reporting. It happens to be where I'm located as we're having this conversation.
Grand Valley State University is looking to bolster enrollment at its Pew campus in downtown Grand Rapids and that includes some changes that will be coming over the next few years.
Mark Sanchez: This is a new master plan and that's the story my co-worker here Kate Carlson did this week for Crain’s Grand Rapids Business. I'm getting used to saying that, too. It really looks kind of what's going to happen. Not only the Allendale campus but the Pew campus in downtown Grand Rapids. Bottom line, there's some major projects coming in downtown. There are plans for a $140 million tech hub. That in an existing facility there. There around Grand Valley.
Really, this plan lays out a future of the campus. And the idea is to bring more students into downtown. I think the enrollment is about 5,700 students as of 2021 in downtown for Grand Valley and that could grow to more than 8,000 by 2025.
So, I would invite people to come online and take a look at that story. It's really this vision that Grand Valley lays out is basically to enhance and grow its presence in downtown Grand Rapids.
Patrick Center: And the idea that I've heard from a few people is to make Grand Rapids, a college town to make it inviting. That feeling of connection.
Mark Sanchez: You know, that's connection. The example lawyers immediately default too is a Hope College there in Holland right next to downtown Holland where you have this institution, this student base, this faculty base and they work together and they complement each other. Here in Grand Rapids, it’s the same thing on a much larger scale with Grand Valley. But it's not just Grand Valley. You have obviously, Grand Rapids Community College. You have Kendall College, Ferris State, Western Michigan has a presence downtown. So, you’ve got a lot of students and adults and faculty coming into downtown who are working in higher education or they’re a student at one of these schools. With Grand Valley now, that's just going to add to that entire cluster here in downtown Grand Rapids.
Patrick Center: We're talking with Joe Boomgaard. He's editor of Crain’s Grand Rapids Business and senior writer Mark Sanchez. You've written a piece on who knew that this would ever happen? We’re dropping mask mandates.
Mark Sanchez: It's here. We can drop the mask. This is a story posted the other day. Some of the health systems in Michigan decided to announce their changes all at the same time. Including, you know, Trinity Health here in Grand Rapids, Muskegon. Corewell Health. U of M West. If you're going to the hospital for a procedure. If you're visiting somebody in the hospital, you're no longer required.
to wear that mask. It's no longer mandated. Obviously, if you're going into a unit, an intensive care unit to visit somebody, or an area such as an oncology care center where folks may have a compromised immune system, that's a little different. They still would like you to wear a mask. But generally, in all those public areas in the hospitals where you're visiting somebody, you're going in for a procedure, the mask mandates have ended mostly at hospitals. And this is kind of where we are in the pandemic. We've all been navigating and lived through this for three years. I guess you could say there is that light at the end of the tunnel. We are coming out of it.