Tag Archives: Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce

Local Government Matters: Chamber to host informational meeting

WKTV Staff


The Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters Committee meeting will be Monday, Feb. 13, from 8-9 a.m. at Wyoming City Hall, 1155 28th St SW, at the corner of 28th and Michael Avenue SW.


The meetings alternate between Wyoming City Hall and Kentwood City Hall.


The meeting, where chamber officials meet with local, county and state government officials, is free and open to the public. It will also be recorded by WKTV community television for viewing.


The Feb. 13 meeting will be delayed broadcast on WKTV community television Channel 26 on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. until the next Government Matters Committee meeting. It is also available on-demand at wktv.viebit.com


For more information on the chamber visit southkent.org.


Chamber names Valorous Circle ‘2016 Service Business of the Year’

Jonathan and Beth Mast, founders of Valorous Circle

By Victoria Mullen




In this lightning-paced, online world, one of a business’s greatest challenges is to get noticed and set itself apart from a plethora of similar businesses. No mean feat — the Internet is a bottomless sea of noise, images and information.


But Valorous Circle — the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Service Business of the Year — helps all kinds of businesses do just that. Since 2010, the website design company has focused on marketing instead of just a website’s functionality.


One only need look at co-founders Jonathan and Beth Mast’s foundational values to understand what sets Valorous Circle apart from its competitors.

‘We don’t really look for a lot of accolades other than from our clients’

“Obviously, a website has to work — no one is going to use a website that doesn’t work,” said Beth Mast, Owner and Chief Operating Office of Valorous Circle. “But beyond that, it has to be able to engage with the actual client’s audience. That was the primary focus that we began from.


“From there one thing that makes us very unique is that we give our clients full access to their website where that’s not typical. And we’re here to support them, to empower our clients to know that this is their asset, this is their website.”


The Masts work very closely in the community with nonprofits, ministries and primarily with businesses throughout the area, helping them create an online presence that “creates credibility for their business and then drives traffic to their website and more importantly, the right traffic,” said Jonathan Mast, Founder and Chief Internet Strategist. “We don’t just want to provide the client with a pretty website. We want to provide them with a website that’s going to appeal to their target audience.”


It is against this backdrop that the Masts received word that Valorous Circle was being honored as the Chamber’s 2016 Service Business of the Year.


“We don’t really look for a lot of accolades other than from our clients, obviously,” said Jonathan. “We just feel real honored that the Chamber is recognizing the work we’re doing in the community and showing some appreciation. We’re thrilled, very honored.”


The folks at Valorous Circle are big believers that a company should be involved in the communities where it does business.


“And although we are based in Grand Rapids, we do work throughout West Michigan and as a result of that, we’re members of the Wyoming/Kentwood Chamber, among other chambers, because we want to be part of that community,” Jonathan said. “We want to give back.”


Valorous Circle has come a long way since its humble beginnings, in a chilly basement.


“We currently have 10 employees, 11 if you count our dog, Yoshi, who is our Barketing Director and Happiness Hero,” said Beth. “We have employees that are in sales and marketing, we have developers and support and doing website design, project managers and marketers.”


Jonathan said the Wyoming Chamber does a fantastic job of understanding that a company’s first and primarily goal is to serve and at the same time make a fair profit.


“The Chamber is very focused on helping us become better businesses, become more involved in the community and do a better job of reaching that community, Jonathan said. They help promote each of the businesses that are members and encourage networking and collaboration among the members.

‘Our involvement with the Chamber is mutually beneficial’

“My grandfather taught me many years ago that a rising tide raises all boats. And it’s part of how we do business, it’s part of what we really respect about the chamber, that they understand that concept. That the better the area is doing, whether that’s the individual community, whether that’s the businesses in the community, or whether that’s other aspects related to that, it helps everybody out.


“And so by creating a stronger community, whether that’s a jobs area, whether that’s a business community, whether that’s better networking, whether it’s better collaboration between nonprofits and business, that rising tide benefits every single individual, and organization within the area and I think that that’s one of the things I’m so thankful that I learned early on and we’re really thankful for that the chamber seems to embody.”


Lacks Enterprises named Manufacturer of the Year by Chamber

The loading dock at one of Lacks Enterprises manufacturing facilities. (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris



With more than half a century of doing business in the Wyoming-Kentwood area, and more than 2,500 employee as part of the family, Lacks Enterprises, Inc. is the Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Manufacturer of the Year.


Lacks Enterprises will be one of three businesses honored at the chamber’s 36th Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner on Friday, Jan. 27, at the Crossroads Conference Center in Grand Rapids.


Lacks Enterprises, headquartered in Kentwood, was started by John P. Lacks and son Richard Lacks Sr., and is still a family-focused company now led by CEO Richard Lacks Jr. and executive vice president Kurt Lacks.


“We are a privately held company,” Jim Green, Executive Director of Human Resources, said. “We have been in business in the Wyoming and Kentwood area for over 55 years. The third and fourth generation of the Lacks family are still active in the business. We employe approximately 2,700 employees … Approximately $450 million in sales.


“We mold, plate, paint and assemble parts for the automative and appliance industry,” he said. “If you are looking for our real call to fame, we are the best in the world at providing high quality, Class A decorative finishes for the automotive industry.”


Lacks has 19 manufacturing sites in the Kentwood-Wyoming area and 26 total buildings “if you add in our lab, our warehouses, our medical clinics and our corporate offices,” Green said.


Long, productive relationship with chamber


Lacks history not only goes back more than 50 years, its relationship with the chamber also goes back to its beginning as well.


Jim Green, Lacks Enterprises, Inc. Executive Director of Human Resources

“The Kentwood-Wyoming chamber truly is a partnership with manufacturing, they have been partners with us for the 55 years we have been in business,” Green said. “There has been countless times we have needed their assistance, whether it was a tax abatement or dealing with the city on an issue, or dealing with Lansing (state government), and the have always been there.


“They understand the importance of a strong manufacturing community to make your whole community successful. The positive business environment has been instrumental in our continued growth over the last 55 years. If you did not have that kind of support, you couldn’t keep growing your business. The Kentwood community also provides a very high quality and diverse workforce, which is crucial to your success as a business.”


While Lacks is one of West Michigan’s manufacturing success stories, it still is humbled and thankful for the Chamber award and for its place among the leading businesses in the region.


“It is a privilege and an honor” to gain the award, Green said. “There are a lot of high quality manufacturers in the Kentwood-Wyoming area, so for us to be recognized as the manufacturer of the year, it is very meaningful and very important to the Lacks family and to our Lacks employees.


“I think it reinforces the quality of company we have, the contributions we do make to the community,” he said. “We are the fourth largest private employer in West Michigan, so for us to be recognized and for our peers to see us be recognized for what we do, it matters. We are pretty humble as a company, we are privileged and honored to be recognized.”


For more information visit the chamber’s website.


Interact with policymakers at ‘Government Matters’ Nov. 14

wkacc-logoLocal government matters most. Many people don’t realize how decisions at the local level affect members of the community. Here’s your chance to get engaged!
Monday, Nov. 14, Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Matters Forum with elected officials, will take place at the Kentwood City Hall, 4900 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood from 8-9:15 am.

One of the topics of discussion will be the new Overtime Law that goes into effect Dec. 1, 2016. If you would like to comment or have figured out how much this will cost your company, please come to the Forum and share with us your input.

This meeting is an opportunity for business owners and the community to face our appointed officials and bring to light any issues or concerns they would like to address. You are welcome to be recognized by the moderator — and present your questions at the allotted time.

Bring your top issues and interact with policymakers from

  • City of Kentwood
  • City of Wyoming
  • County of Kent
  • Michigan House of Representatives
  • Michigan Senate

This monthly meeting will be televised by Cable Channel 25 WKTV.

Ho, ho, ho. Santa’s arrival is only two months away

kids at santa paradeIt’s October and believe it or not, the 9th Annual Santa Parade is less than two months away.


This year’s parade is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, and will head down S. Division Avenue from 33rd Street southbound to Murray Street. After the event, residents are invited to stop by Brann’s Sizzlin’ Steaks & Sports Grille, 4132 S. Division, for pictures with Santa immediately after the parade.


And there is still a lot to do in Wyoming and Kentwood in preparation for the arrival of the Big Guy. The Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce is looking for chamber members interested in helping with this year’s parade. The Chamber is looking for people who want to help in making this year’s event even bigger and better. If you are interested, contact the Chamber office at 616-531-5990.


santaIt is never too early to book your spot in the parade. It is $25 for corporate/business participants for a float or fleet car and marchers in the parade. Company information must be included for the WKTV broadcast of the parade. It is $10 for any non-profit for a float or fleet car and marchers. It is also $10 for public participants.


For questions or more information including sign up forms for parade or Chamber membership, contact the Chamber office at 616-531-5990. The Santa Parade is sponsored by the Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce.

Community organizations come together for first South Kent Expo

logosSeveral community organizations — covering four municipalities — have come together to host the first South Kent Community Expo, which is set for this Saturday, Oct. 1.


The Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department, Kentwood Public Schools, the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cutlerville-Gaines Area Chamber of Commerce are hosting the expo which runs from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the East Kentwood High School, 6230 Kalamazoo Ave. SE. The event is free.


expo“The Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department hosted a health expo and they were running out of space at the location they were at along with the fact that we at the chamber and Cutlerville-Gaines have hosted expos in the past,”said Bob O’Callaghan, president/CEO of the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce, as he talked about how the idea for the South Kent Community Expo came about. “Coming together, we felt that we had more options and a better opportunity to reach a broader range of residents.”


The expo is designed to bring in a representation of businesses and organizations in the Wyoming, Kentwood, Gaines and Cutlerville areas. About 80 different vendors are expected to be at the event representing a variety of groups from health care to financial.


“We do not have a lot of duplicate businesses,” O’Callaghan said. “We have a variety of services along with organizations that provide products. It’s a nice representation and should meet about anyone’s tastes or needs.”


Mixed in will be several local restaurants and food stores that will be providing tastings of some of the items they offer. There also will be outside activities that include demonstrations from fire and rescue.


Kentwood Public Schools will be providing a variety of cultural activities, which O’Callaghan said organizers hope will help draw people to the expo.


Being the first year, O’Callaghan said it is hard to predict how many people will attend. A lot depends on the weather, however; being that the event is free, organizers are expecting somewhere between 2,000 – 3,000 participants.

Second candidate forum focuses on candidates for Kentwood

ballotThe Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce and the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood host the second candidate forum at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the KDL Kentwood Branch, 4950 Breton SE.


The forum is designed to allow residents to get to know the candidates who want to represent them. The forum is free to the public.


The event starts at 7:10 p.m. with the 12th District Kent County Commission candidates. The 12 District area covers part of the cities of Kentwood and Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Republican incumbent Harold Mast who is being challenged by Democrat Christian Allen. Both candidates are planning to be at Thursday’s forum.


At 7:50 p.m. will be the 13th Kent County Commission candidates. The 13th District area covers most of the eastern and northern portion of the City of Kentwood. Newcomers Democrat Betsy Melton and Republican Jessica Ann Tyson are seeking the seat being vacated by Richard Vander Molen. Both Melton and Tyson are planning to be at Thursday’s forum.


For more coverage on the candidates, make sure to check out WKTV’s We the People coverage.

Candidate forum set for tonight at Wyoming library

ballotOutside of the presidential candidates of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on the Nov. 8 ballot, there a number of others seeking your vote to represent you in state, county and local government.


To help area residents get familiar with the candidates who are running for these various offices, the Wyoming-Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce along with the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood will be hosting candidate forums this week. These forums are for candidates who will represent residents of the Wyoming and Kentwood communities.


The first one is tonight, Sept. 20, and focuses on Wyoming candidates. The event is free to the public and starts at 6 p.m. at the KDL Wyoming Branch, 3350 Michael Ave. SW.


voting_united_statesAt 6:05 p.m. will be candidates for the 77th District State Representative. The 77th District includes Byron Township and the City of Wyoming. The seat is currently held by Thomas Hooker of Byron Township, who is vacating due to term limits. The candidates vying for the spot are Republican Tommy Brann and Democrat Dana Knight. Brann plans on being at the event.


At 6:30 p.m. will be the 8th District Kent County Commission candidates. This district takes in a part of the City of Wyoming. Currently holding the seat is Republican Harold Voorhees, who is seeking re-election. His opponent is Democrat Franklin Cornielle. Voorhees plans to be in attendance at tonight’s forum.


At 6:50 p.m. is the Wyoming City Council 2nd Ward candidates. The City of Wyoming’s 2nd Ward area covers the northern portion of the City of Wyoming from Chicago Drive in the north to Prairie Parkway down Burlingame Avenue over 36th Street and up along 32nd Street on the south. The 2nd Ward western border is Wentworth and the eastern border is the city limits. Running for the seat is incumbent Richard Pastoor and newcomer Marissa Postler. Both are planning to be at tonight’s forum.


At 7:30 p.m. is the Wyoming City Council 3rd Ward candidates. The City of Wyoming’s 3rd Ward area encompasses the city’s panhandle area that includes most of the western area of the city from Prairie Parkway on the north to 60th Street in the south. The 3rd Ward eastern border wraps around the city limits to Kenowa Avenue and its’ western border is Burlingame Avenue. Newcomers Rusty Richter and Robert Postema are seeking the seat being vacated by Joanne Voorhees. Both Richter and Postema are planning to be at tonight’s forum.

DreamWheels!: History of Metro Cruise

As the sun sits high in the sky, radiating down on the blacktop of 28th Street, hundreds of thousands of people bustle up and down the road taking in the sights. More than 15,000 cars waxed, shined, and ready for primetime cover the street and parking lots as spectators take in the grandeur of these classic beauties.


For the past 11 years, the 28th Street Metro Cruise has brought together generations of people by allowing them to a trip through memory lane by cruising down 28th Street in a classic car. While the event is now ingrained into the fabric of 28th Street and the communities that participate, not everyone was initially onboard.


“When the idea [for the Metro Cruise] came up, I was thinking, ‘this is not going to work,’” Bob O’Callaghan said with a laugh. Callahan, who now serves as the president of the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce, was a Chamber board member during the creation of Metro Cruise. “But I turned out to be wrong.”


With the completion of the M-6 highway in 2004, there was concern that traffic would dissipate from 28th Street and turn a street that was once the second busiest in Michigan into an afterthought. The Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce set out to find a way to continue to drive traffic down 28th Street and to the local businesses in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood. The Chamber saw a problem, and the solution would hinge on the local car culture.


Metro Cruise“The idea for the Metro Cruise came from the Woodward Dream Cruise” said Charlie Steen, one of the main think tanks behind Metro Cruise. “We were looking for promotion for 28th Street and the businesses on the strip, and we felt it was an opportunity for merchants to benefit from the event.”


Steen, the former Economic Development Director for the City of Wyoming, approached then Chamber President John Crawford with the idea for the Metro Cruise. With the help of Dan Van Dyke from Fruit Basket Flowerland and Todd Duncan from Consumers Energy, the Chamber went all in to make the event a reality.


“We were very fortunate with the help of the city mayors, councils and governments, and the Chamber of Commerce,” said Steen. “We had to work with Wyoming, Kentwood, Grandville, Grand Rapids, and Cascade Township to make the Metro Cruise a reality.”


With everyone on board, it came down to one thing: Would anyone show up?


“During the early planning stages for year one, we actually hoped that we might get a couple of thousand people to show up and hoped to have a couple hundred cars,” stated Todd Duncan in an interview in 2014 reflecting back on the 10th Anniversary of Metro Cruise.


Turns out, the initial estimates didn’t quite comprehend West Michigan’s love for cars. The Metro Cruise went live in 2005 and 85,000 people came to see what it was all about.


“Without the car crazies from West Michigan, the Metro Cruise wouldn’t happen,” said Steen.


Metro CruiseWhile the participation was better than expected, and getting the inaugural event to make it from concept to reality was a success in itself, the first year of Metro Cruise didn’t accomplish its primary task.


“It was not a success with the Chamber, we lost money that first year,” explained O’Callaghan. “We thought we’d go in all the way with 16 different locations around 28th Street. It was too much and we scaled it back the second year with the Chamber staying in and focusing on Roger’s Plaza.”


The Chamber saw the potential of Metro Cruise, and instead of dumping the idea after losing money in year one, they adapted and continued to build the event. Since 2005, Metro Cruise has grown from 85,000 participants to more than 250,000, and well over 15,000 vehicles as well. The increase in event traffic has led directly to an influx in commerce for the local businesses.


“The Chamber did a survey three years ago and found out that $3.3 million was spent on the 28th Street corridor on the weekend of Metro Cruise,” said O’Callaghan. “It’s doing what it’s supposed to do as far as the financial side and the awareness.”


As the cruise prepares for its 12th year, car lovers from all over the state, and the country, will pour onto 28th Street to enjoy automobiles from generation to generation.


Make sure to check out the “DreamWheels” show which will be broadcasting live Saturday, Aug. 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Pal’s Diner, 6503 28th St. SE, and Rogers Plaza, 972 28th St. SW. The show will air Saturday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. on WKTV Channel 25.

28th Street Metro Cruise Celebrates Cruisin’ Back to the 20th Century

Metro CruiseThe Wyoming Kentwood Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association will present the 28th Street Metro Cruise® on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22, 2015, along 15 miles of 28th Street. This marks the 11th year the annual celebration of classic cars has descended on 28th Street, in what has become West Michigan’s premiere auto show and cruise, attracting car lovers with unique vehicles from throughout the United States.

Additions to this year’s official Metro Cruise festivities at Roger’s Plaza include: a blood drive hosted by Michigan Blood Center from 2 to 6 pm; a seminar for lady cruisers presented by Kandi Blaze, lady gearhead and professional pin up model Friday from 4 to 5 pm; and an appearance by Pete Chapouris of So-Cal Speed Shop.

Metro Cruise The ConcourseChapouris is best known for his creation of “The California Kid” car and will be available for autographs both Friday and Saturday courtesy of Steve’s Antique Auto Repair and sponsored by J&H Family Stores, Marge’s Donut Den, Top Stitch Trim & Upholstery, Pinkies Ice Cream & Desserts, Travis Truck & Auto Collision, Inc., Vanguard Fire & Security Systems, Inc. and Wade & Jane Jennings.

The food court and vendors officially open at 4 pm Friday. At 6 pm, Cruise goers can cheer on their favorite Pinup Girl as 20 lovely ladies vie for the title of Miss Metro Cruise 2015. Across the street, WKTV will host its one-of-kind, red carpet event “DreamWheels” from 8 to 10 pm, featuring rarely seen automobiles on a live TV show. This is the only show of this kind in the nation.

On Saturday morning, the Metro Cruise re-opens at 9 am. Throughout the day there will be prize giveaways, performances by Sneaky Pete Blues Band of Kalamazoo and, of course, thousands of cars of every variety to enjoy.

The event has grown through the years to average more than 250K visitors and more than 15,000 vehicles each year. There has been momentum within the 28th Street merchants’ community to increase event participation. Being the premiere classic car attraction in Western Michigan, the 28th Street Metro Cthruise® generates a welcomed injection of tourist dollars into our community and represents a huge marketing / promotional opportunity for local and regional businesses.

Go to the Metro Cruise® website (www.28thstreetmetrocruise.com) and Facebook page for the latest information.