Neil Blakeslee

City codes cannot be ignored when they don’t serve your personal agenda

July 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

To the Rockford Council: City Manager Michael Young, Mayor Jerry Coon, Mayor Pro Tem Tammy Bergstrom, Council Members Steve Jazwiec, Brien Dews and Gail Mancewicz.   Dear Council Members, I am writing you as chairperson of your Rockford Economic Development Corporation (EDC). In case you are not familiar with the EDC and for the benefit of those copied by this letter the EDC is appointed by you to develop plans and advise the council on issues to attract businesses to Rockford and to assist existing businesses grow and prosper. Together with the Downtown Development Authority, the Chamber of Commerce and of course the Rockford City Council we have seen our business community become the envy of many in West Michigan and a source of great pride to our residents and businesses.   The purpose of the EDC is not to increase profits for businesses, although we are glad if that happens, but to increase the tax base, which then provides the basis to enhance services for our residents.   Without the revenues from businesses taxed in Rockford our City budget would be significantly limited. You don’t have to look very far to see other communities that are struggling with their budgets and the resulting difficulties they face. The EDC has followed two recent developments within the City with great interest. First, we had the Wolverine Tannery cleanup as a major issue affecting the business community. Concerned citizens asked for a closer review of the process, but unfortunately did not trust Wolverine, the City of Rockford, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality or the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s findings. As a result substantial city revenues were consumed dealing with those citizens’ concerns. While City expenses are important to all residents, the aspect that worries the EDC is the affect excessive review may have on businesses who may be considering Rockford as a location. Rockford has always been known to be thorough and thoughtful, but most of all fair. When a prospective business reads that even if it meets full compliance with existing city codes, it can be denied or delayed without justification, that business is likely to look elsewhere. As business owners we can see the obvious financial benefit to the City in avoiding clean up costs, which we […]

Full house at Rockford Business Center good economic news

January 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA A year ago the restructure of the law firm which is now Blakeslee Rop PLC at 240 Northland Drive resulted in additional space. Today the building is brimming with business professionals who are able to offer a wide variety of services from under one local roof. “Jim Scales put me in touch with Tim Caywood, and the others came with him,” Blakeslee described. In the financial offices in Rockford’s “east side” are Caywood’s Ameriprise financial planning and wealth growth expertise, White Insurance, and H&S Companies, three interrelated companies that work together. Ashely Clonan, marketing coordinator for H&S Companies, said her firm saw a move into Rockford as a natural fit. H&S Companies, CPAs and Business Consultants, has other offices in addition to the new Rockford branch. They are providers of services such as tax and accounting, business strategy, marketing, payroll services, auditing, restaurant and brewery specialists, fraud examiners, human resource consultation, and pension administration. The White Insurance Agency was established in 1873—not much different than The Rockford Squire’s start at the Rockford Weekly Register in 1871—and is thrilled to open with their Rockford location their fourth branch. The White Insurance Agency has been providing quality products, excellent service and competitive prices to Western Michigan through their main branch in Fremont and offices in Grant and Twin Lake. With their new location, they are excited to share their wealth of knowledge, experience and customer service with the Rockford community. The new Rockford office represents many well-known and respected insurance companies and can meet all your home, auto, life, health or business insurance needs. Ryan DeVries, the insurance agent at the Rockford branch, has been with The White Insurance Agency for nine years. He resides in Rockford with his wife and daughter and is eager to share his know-how and expertise with the community of Rockford. Blakeslee is pleased with the new opportunities provided by the grouping of business men and women in the building constructed in 2000. Blakeslee is a lifelong Rockford resident, long-term member of Rockford City Council and former mayor of Rockford. He began practicing in 1981 with his first office, located on Main Street. “I’ve seen more stability than change in Rockford,” Blakeslee said of the progress of the town since […]

Sponsors stepping up to Healing Fields memorial

June 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA United Bank’s CEO and president Art Johnson, honorary chair of the West Michigan Healing Fields, has stepped up to present his bank as Field Sponsor for the memorial tribute to those killed on 9/11. The bank gave the project a $10,000 check Tuesday, May 24. According to Nancy Martin, manager of the Rockford branch of United Bank, the area tribute to those lost in the terrorist attack is likely to result in national media coverage. Martin said the tribute will take place on the 10th anniversary of the attack—a milestone memorial—and this Healing Fields event will be one of the biggest in the country. “It’s very expensive to put on, but we felt we had to go full bore with it.” The parent organization of the West Michigan Healing Fields is the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE), which put up the $50,000 required to stage the event. The public, organizations and businesses are invited to buy one of the three-by-five-foot flags at just $75, which are limited to 3,200—the number of people who died in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Martin said she is excited her company CEO wasted no time deciding to be a major sponsor and is already joined by such familiar names as Meijer, Grand Rapids Press, Ingraberg Farms and others. Flag sales are currently underway as well. “This is going to be so huge,” she noted. Johnson spoke during a press conference held at Cannonsburg Ski Area, where the display and associated memorial events will take place. He talked about the affect the attacks had on the country and the world and how all Americans’ lives have changed as a result. For United Bank, there was a personal connection to the tragedy. The legal team employed by the institution was located in the Trade Towers and every one of them lost their lives that day. Johnson himself, the former chairman of the American Banking Association, had been scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C. that day and had a late morning, so he postponed his flight. The flags will fly on eight-foot poles, a “living display of heroism,” which will be a temporary tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. Flags may be dedicated in honor of an […]