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joeDowntown

21st Century jobs

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With all the talk of Grand Rapids economy diversifying and moving away from our manufacturing roots (or at least positoning ourselves to more advanced manufacturing), does anyone have any examples of companies, big or small, that may be major influences on our economy in the future. I'm not talking about Spectrum, VAI or MSU, although spinoffs from one of these could be included.

Some companies I think could help lead the way:

1. X-Rite. A lot of R&D, in a growth through acquisition mode. Presently the top player in their market.

2. Perrigo. Not exactly GR-based, and I don't know if copycat generic drugs are the key to the future, but it does seem like they are making strides globally (with the acquisition of an Israel Pharm. company).

3. GFT. Ok, I work here, but it is an incredibly strong company that nobody has heard of. I don't think it will ever be a mega-employer in Grand Rapids, but it is probably one of the most unique "pure" financial companies HQ'd in GR (Ada actually - no relation to Alticor).

3. Macatawa. Do they have what it takes to become a big player? Will Holland always be their home base?

4. Mercantile. The other regional bank in town. Doesn't seem to be quite as good as Macatawa, plus they get a negative in my books for building outside of the core, but can they parlay early success into becoming a powerhouse, or will they get gobbled up like every other homegrown bank?

Also, what about US Signal? Will they ever stick around long enough to become a powerhouse? It seems like the folks behind US Signal grow to a certain size and sell out (US Signal > MCI , US Xchange > Choice One, US Signal > ???).

I would love to hear what other innovative companies we have waiting in the wings. I'm sure there are plenty.

Joe

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I would love to hear what other innovative companies we have waiting in the wings. I'm sure there are plenty.

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My issue with Spout.com is that I don't think they know what they want to be when they grow up. Are they another DVD sales site, a MySpace, or basically a discussion forum? It seems like the only "sizzle" in their site is Topic Clouds, which already seem to have fallen out of fashion in the Internet world.

I think the only way Sprout will "sprout" is if they could hook up with Netflix or Blockbuster to add the community aspect to these sites. Otherwise, I just don't understand where the revenue stream comes from.

I still think everyone should check it out: Spout.com

I wish them the best but it seems like the Google, Amazon, MySpace and YouTube will eat their lunch.

Joe

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Yeah, I know a bit about Spout.com and I just don't see it going anywhere. It comes pretty late to the game, doesn't really offer anything truly unique, and really just doesn't have a critical mass of users for it be self-feeding. MySpace is successful because everybody else uses it, not because it's a good site. In fact, it's a horrible site. It succeeds despite its suckiness.

Perhaps if there were some interoperability between social networking sites (no idea how this would work, but I'm just thinking) people could pick a site tailored to their interests. Movies in this case. That would still allow users the benefits of being on the popular sites with all their friends, but choose whichever site suits them best. I know Facebook recently offered developers an API, perhaps Spout should look into using Facebook as a sort of back end to the social networking aspect of their site.

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Not to be confused with what I would consider a company that will lead Grand Rapids into the future, but is still definitely an innovative product is See Spot Run. It allows business to upload a radio commercial to the See Spot Run server, which creates a "digital fingerprint" of the commercial. They can then track the commercial, tell how many times it has run, when, etc. It could also be used to keep an eye on what the competition is doing. And it works for every major radio market in the US. Very clever if you ask me!

Oh, and See Spot Run is located downtown next to the Black Rose :thumbsup:

Joe

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What about the new Suzanne Somers venture that has its base here?

It might sound corny, but they now have 20 employees and 700 salespeople signed up. They're predicted to be the next Mary Kay or Avon. Despite many people's feelings about Amway, there are thousands of high-payed employees at their HQ in Ada.

http://www.suzanne.com/termsandconditions.aspx

I just read in Fast Company that women make 80% of all consumer purchasing decisions.

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Suzanne Somers was also closely affiliated with Ideasphere, Dave Van Andel's nutrition company. They now own Twinlab, one of the largest nutritional supplement companies in the world. Unfortunately, they are based in Utah and it seems like Ideasphere is a pretty small organization locally. I think the Suzanne Somers thing could employee a lot of people. I've heard she is pretty business savvy.

Joe

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