Deb Prato, CEO The Rapid photo

Deb Prato has held executive leadership positions in county government and regional transportation. The newly appointed CEO for The Rapid has more than 30-years of experience including her time with New York city’s MTA, which is North America’s largest transit system, along with Rochester, New York’s seven-county system.

Arriving in Grand Rapids in the midst of a pandemic, Prato says it’s been a year of innovation. As conditions improve with vaccinations, getting ridership back is a top priority.

Karl Manke cutting hair photo
Lansing State Journal / Associated Press

A Michigan barber who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and reopened his shop last spring during the coronavirus pandemic was fined $9,000 for violating licensing rules, including joining a protest where hairstylists cut hair on the Capitol lawn.

Karl Manke will appeal the penalties in court, his lawyer said.

Pfizer logo

Pfizer is expected to start building a new pharmaceutical production facility in western Michigan.

The drugmaker will break ground Wednesday on the multi-story, 420,000-square-foot (39,019-square-meter) building on Pfizer’s global manufacturing campus in Portage, reported.

It is expected to bring 450 new jobs to the area. The $465 million facility is expected to be in operation in 2025, according to Pfizer.

The new facility will initially manufacture the pain medicine known as Dynastat, which is supplied to several international countries, Pfizer said.

Kent County seal
Kent County

Brick and mortar, temporary or mobile, there are nearly 2,300 food establishments in Kent County.

The pandemic has brought hardship to the industry with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issuing closures and seating capacity limits aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing the challenges over the past year, the Kent County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously waived the 2021 food service licensing and inspection fees.

Depending on licensure type and size of establishment, the annual fee varies from $155 to $580.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney sits in the courtroom during her arraignment, Friday March, 19, 2021 photo
Nicole Hester / Ann Arbor News via AP

Supporters boarded the doors at a western Michigan restaurant to show authorities that the owner will keep it closed, a condition necessary to spring her from jail for violating court orders related to COVID-19.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, meanwhile, remained in custody Saturday, 90 miles away at the Ingham County jail.

Holly Shashaguay said she helped board up Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria in Holland on Friday night.

“When I painted that ‘complied’ sign, I was crying the whole time,” Shashaguay told “We didn’t want to do it, but we did.”

Amway logo
Wikimedia Commons

Amway, the global direct sales giant, said it’s cutting 900 jobs, most of them at headquarters in western Michigan.

The company said it hopes to accomplish the move by offering buyouts and other incentives. The 900 jobs are equal to 6% of Amway’s global workforce.

“We are investing even more in our wellness portfolio — in science, innovation, manufacturing — while also improving our digital capabilities,” chief executive Milind Pant said in a written statement Thursday.

Tesla logo

For the second time this week, the U.S. government’s road safety agency is sending a team to investigate a Tesla crash in Michigan.

This time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending a special crash investigation team because a Tesla using the company’s Autopilot partially automated driving system crashed into a State Police cruiser with flashing lights along a freeway.

Ford Motor Company emblem
Wikimedia Commons

It's a question occupying the minds of employees who have worked from home the past year: Will they still be allowed to work remotely - at least some days - once the pandemic has faded? On Wednesday, one of America's corporate titans, Ford Motor Co., supplied its own answer: It told about 30,000 of its employees worldwide who have worked from home that they can continue to do so indefinitely, with flexible hours approved by their managers.

Tesla logo

Michigan State Police say a Tesla on autopilot crashed into a Lansing-area state trooper's patrol car early Wednesday. Police said neither the trooper nor the 22-year-old Lansing man who was driving the Tesla were injured in 1:10 a.m. crash on Interstate 96 in Eaton County. WLNS-TV reports that the crash occurred as the trooper was investigating a collision between a car and a deer. Police said the trooper's patrol car's emergency lights were activated when the Tesla drove into the patrol car.

City of Wyoming Twitter logo

The Wyoming [re]Imagined Master Plan was approved by its City Council on March 1st. After months of community input, the [re]Imagined Master Plan is a framework for investment, reinvestment and growth.

Comerica Park photo
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan appears poised to amend a 1,000-patron limit so more Detroit Tigers fans can attend home games on Opening Day and after. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office said Monday that the state health department has had talks with the team "to find a safe path forward to expand capacity limits at the stadium." A state order says outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities can have no more than 1,000 customers gathered. Critics, including Republican lawmakers, say that is too low since Comerica Park holds more than 41,000. Opening Day is April 1.

Downtown Grand Rapids

An old furniture factory in Grand Rapids could become the home of 750 apartments, and many of them would be small "micro units." Developers of the Sligh Furniture building hope to appear before the Grand Rapids Planning Commission in the months ahead. More than 440 apartments would be "micro units" ácovering 475 square feet, according to documents presented to a board that reviews economic development. reports the project is led by Detroit-based Sturgeon Bay Partners.

Michigan farm photo

Seven farmland preservation programs in Michigan will share $1.8 million in grants.

The funding awarded by Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development along with the Michigan Agricultural Preservation Fund Board will allow the programs to close on permanent agricultural conservation easements.

The grants cover up to 75% of the costs for purchasing the development rights on agricultural land. It also helps pay for some of the closing costs associated with the conservation easements.

Assembly line photo
Wikimedia Commons

Grand Valley State University's Van Andel Global Trade Center hosted its annual Automotive Suppliers Symposium virtually this year. This year’s theme, the industry’s strategic implications of electrification.

Short-term, the automotive industry is recovering from coronavirus pandemic impacts. In 2020, North American Light Vehicle Production dropped from 16.3 million units in 2019 to 13 million in 2020. This year the forecast calls for 16.2 million and 16.8 in 2021.

There are some headwinds including a shortage of semiconductors and labor.

Chevrolet Bolt EV photo

LG Energy Solution says it will invest more than $4.5 billion in its U.S. battery production business by 2025 as automakers ramp up production of electric vehicles.

The Korean company, which has a joint venture with U.S. automaker General Motors, said the investment will help create 10,000 jobs, including subcontractors.