Briefly: Big News In A Small Format


Following the merger of Bay Winds Federal Credit Union with Members Credit Union, the new financial institution has announced a new name – 4Front Credit Union.

“Both institutions have long and storied histories in their respective communities,” said Andrew Kempf, CEO/President of Members, based in Traverse City. “It’s not easy to let go of two names synonymous with member service and civic commitment. While our names may be changing, we still exist to put our members and communities first, at the forefront of everything we do.”

The institutions are slated to begin joint operations as 4Front Credit Union in early 2015.


45th Parallel Realty Premier in Elk Rapids has completed its transition to the Real Estate One brand after the firm joined forces with Real Estate One in 2009. The company’s real estate sales associates will be licensed under Real Estate One, Inc. The Elk Rapids office is located at 101 N. River Street.

“The 45th Parallel Realty brand has been a respected name in the market. We have been pleased with the growth we have experienced in the area since joining forces in 2009,” stated Dennis Pearsall, President and COO of Real Estate One Northwest Michigan Division. “The transition to the Real Estate One brand will allow the office and our agents to further capitalize on the marketing systems and statewide name recognition the Real Estate One brand brings.”


The Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has received the 2014 Outstanding Chamber of Commerce Award – Large Category from the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals. Chamber COO Laura Oblinger accepted the award at the association’s leadership conference and annual meeting held last month in Muskegon.

“Among the chamber’s noted achievements were its innovative programming for small businesses and its ‘Access to Capital’ program, its leadership and vision with the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, and its integration of leadership development for members at all levels of the organization,” said Bob Thomas, director of the association

The chambers were judged by both leaders in the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals as well as by chamber professionals from other state associations around the country. The Traverse City Area Chamber has applied before, but this is its first recognition.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Oblinger. “And it really should be something the community celebrates, because we couldn’t do it without our board and our members.”


Panera Bread is now open at 3675 N. US 31, next to Great Wolf Lodge, in Traverse City. The location features Drive-Thru and Rapid Pick-Up service.

“We are thrilled to open our newest bakery-cafe in Traverse City,” said Brian Campbell, marketing director, Manna Development Group, franchisee of Panera Bread.

The new bakery-café will employ more than 60 associates and managers. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 6am-9pm and Sunday, 7am-8pm.


TC-based Cone Drive Operations has purchased Chinese manufacturer Jiangyin Huafang New Energy Hi-Tech Equipment Co. (H-Fang).

H-Fang is a leading manufacturer of slewing drives, slewing bearings and related components which are applied in a wide range of motion control and industrial markets – including solar tracking systems, construction vehicles, mobile cranes, aerial lifts and port machinery.

The company is based in Jiangyin, China (about 90 mile northwest of Shanghai).

Cone Drive CEO Kurt Gamelin says the addition of H-Fang furthers Cone Drive’s globalization strategy. “Having operational excellence in both North America and China allows us to support and expand our customer base in both regions,” Gamelin says.

The acquisition was financed by Citizens Commercial Banking, the commercial banking division of Citizens Financial Group. The $65 million credit package will also be used to refinance existing debt.

The combined company will have more than 400 employees and annual sales of $90 million.


The Northwest Michigan Council of Governments has a new name: Networks Northwest ( The Traverse City-based organization facilitates and manages programs and services for the 10-county region. These programs include Northwest Michigan Works!, the Small Business Development Center and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Email suffix changes to, no change in address or telephone.

The organization said the name change coincides with Governor Snyder’s Regional Prosperity Initiative, which puts a new emphasis on centering many state programs and services around common geographic regions. The name change also marks a milestone for the organization, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.


Jennifer Lake, founder and creative director of Brand Tonic, is celebrating 10 years in the industry in Traverse City helping businesses and nonprofits with branding and creative endeavors.

Discovering her niche in branding services led Lake to create Brand Tonic in 2011, where she specializes in branding and creative consulting in logo and identity development, marketing planning, website design, print collateral, packaging and advertising.

Longtime local clients include the Old Town Playhouse, Peterson McGregor & Associates and Grand Traverse Women’s Clinic. Her logo work also recently received national recognition by Logo Lounge’s 2014 Logo Trends.


Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan recently held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for the Planned Parenthood Karen Christensen Walker Health Center – the newly remodeled and renamed health center and education facility at 1135 E. Eighth Street in Traverse City.

The Walker Health Center was named in honor of a major gift from Karen C. and Edward C. Walker and family of Traverse City during the organization’s Standing Tall capital campaign, which concluded earlier this year with commitments totaling more than $4 million.

Updates include a renovated exterior and signage, high-efficiency mechanicals and windows, as well as major updates to the interior, including the patient waiting room and other public areas. A new exam room has been added, as well as a conference room for educational programs and special events.


The Traverse Area District Library has launched the Grand Traverse Journal, a new digital local history magazine. The project is a collaborative venture of local history buffs and their access to self-publishing tools by the library. The monthly publication features articles on local history and nature in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Leelanau counties.

“The goal of the Journal is two-fold,” explained co-editor and TADL Special Collections Librarian Amy Barritt. “It’s an outlet to preserve our region’s history and a tool to improve literacy through writing.”

Barritt along with co-editor, local historian, and author, Richard Fidler, research and write much of the content but they also seek submissions from local residents. Those interested should contact Barritt at Complete submission details are available online at


Paul Fialon, owner of Paul Fialon Photography in Cedar, has launched a new division of his company specializing in professional residential and commercial real estate photography. He brings more than 28 years of professional photography experience offering this new service to the Grand Traverse area.


TC Computers, which services all brands of computers and offers free diagnostics, has relocated. It is now located at 1125 E. Eighth Street, across from Eastfield Laundry.


Culligan in Traverse City was recently awarded with the Top 25 award for revenue excellence in 2013 by Culligan International. The Top 25 award is given to Culligan dealers based on revenue growth in their respective market size. The top 25 dealerships in each of the individual market categories with the highest year-over-year growth are recognized.


Certified Physician Assistant James Berg has opened Hope Clinic for Muscle and Joint Pain ( in Traverse City. He brings more than 14 years of experience in orthopedics and four years of experience in pain management. The clinic is located at 2240 S. Airport Rd., Ste. B. It can be reached at 231.735.8006.


Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire has two of its four golf courses listed among the Top 20 Public Courses in Michigan by GOLF Magazine (September, 2014). Cedar River Golf Club, designed by Tom Weiskopf, is ranked No. 10 in the state while the Arnold Palmer designed masterpiece, The Legend, is No. 19 on the list. The rankings are determined through a rating system utilizing top golf writers, industry insiders and golf course raters.

The Michigan Golf Course Owners Association also recently named The Legend as its “Golf Course of the Year” for 2014, recognized for its “long list of accomplishments, exceptional management and contributions to the community.”

Shanty Creek Resorts also recently earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. This recognition is given to destinations that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews of four stars or more on TripAdvisor.


Safety Net in Traverse City has sold its portfolio of restaurant point of sale (POS) business to Rumpf Computer Solutions, a Dinerware POS partner based in Toledo. Rumpf Computer will assume the support and development role for these clients based throughout the northern lower, west and southeast areas of Michigan.

“We came to understand that our restaurant clients would be best served by a POS provider who strongly specializes in their industry,” said Beth Holmes-Bozung, principal at Safety Net. “Rumpf Computer Solutions is highly regarded by the Dinerware community nationwide as technical experts, and they’ve built a presence in Michigan where we knew these clients would be well cared for.”

Safety Net’s business model has evolved over the past several years to focus increasingly on managed IT services for small to mid-sized businesses.


Northern Physicians Organization (NPO), a physician-led group in Traverse City, has joined the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) as a Qualified Data Sharing Organization. This helps to integrate NPO’s local practice registry to a state level and will allow for electronic health information to be securely shared statewide through MiHIN.

Under the MiHIN legal umbrella, NPO member providers can achieve better care coordination and transitions of care for patients by gaining full access to securely and privately exchange patient data with other health care providers connected to the statewide network

“This data exchange will greatly help reinforce the patient-doctor relationship by enhancing the communications between the patient’s doctors as well as between doctor and hospital,” said Peter Sneed, MD, NPO’s executive committee chairman. “Becoming a Qualified Data Sharing Organization will help NPO achieve the triple aim of improving the experience of health care, improving the health of populations and reducing per capita costs of health care.”


Michael Wahlstrom, lead developer at The Kitchen Digital, a Traverse City mobile software design & development firm, recently won first runner-up in Code Michigan, a three-day coding hackathon. He created a mobile app called Water Degree, which delivers important and relevant water conditions.

He plans to further develop the app, as it is already 90 percent complete, and partner with an area organization concerned with water safety.


Benzie Bus was recognized at the Bus Con Expo in Indianapolis, IN for being one of six fleets committed to propane by ICOM North America. Benzie Bus has 22 vehicles in its fleet and has converted seven to cleaner burning propane.

“Propane burns 50 percent more efficiently, with fewer emissions and zero airborne particulates, it’s the right way to go,” stated Billy DeRooy, lead mechanic.

Benzie Bus has also submitted a federal grant requesting $224,000 toward the purchase of six propane-powered vans.


Real Estate One has expanded its northwest Michigan operations, opening a new Leland office at 113 N. Main Street. Located on the second floor of the Northwestern Bank building, the new office joins the statewide Real Estate One Family of Companies and is part of the firm’s northern region operations, which includes offices in Traverse City, Bellaire, Beulah, Frankfort, Elk Rapids, Empire and Charlevoix.

John Watkins, a Leland resident for the past 25 years, is part of the team working from the Leland office.


Doug Luciani, president/CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce has been named to the board of directors of the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE), a growing network of nearly 400 chambers of commerce from all 50 states presenting more than 326,000 member businesses. The CICE works to promote incentives and financing for clean and renewable energy initiatives, share best practices and case studies among member chambers, and promote public policy to advance clean and renewable energy development and innovation.


Munson Medical Center recently received recertification from The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center for its multidisciplinary approach to care and depth of medical staff involvement in stroke care and quality assurance. The hospital was first certified in 2012.

“This speaks volumes about the tremendous work our staff and physicians are doing and assures our patients and our community that some of the best stroke care in the nation is taking place at Munson Medical Center,” said Al Pilong, president of Munson Medical Center.


Water trail information is now available online for nearly every mile of Michigan’s Great Lakes shoreline, as well as for dozens of connecting inland waterways. Visitors to will find digital maps, informational videos, shoreline photos, put-in and take-out locations, a trip planner and more.

Traverse City nonprofit Land Information Access Association (LIAA) developed the website to house and display information about water trails across the state. The site now includes 2,485 miles of water trails along Michigan’s Great Lakes coasts and 1,384 miles of water trails on inland waterways. The data was collected by LIAA and more than a dozen project partners, including coalitions of regional planning organizations, local governments, paddling enthusiasts and volunteers.


Michigan Writers has welcomed three new board members: Mandy Gibson, a consultant to small business and nonprofits is the new treasurer; Tanya Muzumdar, a freelance magazine editor and travel writer is the new managing editor, publications; and Susan Odgers, a psychology instructor at Northwestern Michigan College.


Local, Healthy Food: The Real Bargain, a just-released documentary short directed by Traverse City resident Kirk Rasmussen, explores the economic, environmental and health effects of consumer shopping choices through interviews with farmers, academic researchers and staff at Oryana Natural Foods Market in Traverse City. The nine-minute film is available online at Rasmussen is a student in Grand Valley State University’s film program.


Tim Hinkley, board member of United Way of Northwest Michigan, recently recognized the Benzie Area Christian Neighbors (BACN) volunteers for helping United Way utilize its funding so “smartly” last winter.

United Way’s $10,000 grant supported both conservation and financial assistance to Benzie families struggling with utilities last winter. It funded three initiatives: the purchase of weatherization kits to seal air leaks around old windows and doors, the purchase of replacement windows and other building materials for the STAMP “safer, warmer, drier” program and helped 35 families facing utility shut-off with a portion of their utility bill.


Tractor Supply Company is now open in Benzie County. The store, located at 1352 Michigan Ave. in Benzonia, sells products for home improvement, agriculture, lawn and garden maintenance, livestock, equine and pet care. Store hours are Monday-Saturday, 8am-8pm, Sunday, 9am-7pm.


Traverse Bay Farms / Fruit Advantage has announced it is the first northern Michigan gourmet food company to accept Bitcoin

According to Managing Partner Andy LaPointe, “We want to be on the cutting edge of offering the top-of-shelf products and services to our customers. This includes alternative payments methods for our customers. Bitcoin is fast becoming a preferred way for a growing number of people to transact business and make purchases and we want to accommodate this growing trend.

The company is accepting Bitcoin at its retail locations in Elk Rapids and Bellaire and also plans to offer it for online sales.


Wes Blizzard, a Frankfort High School art teacher and Ashlea Walter, marketing manager for Traverse City State Bank, are among the four new members to join the board of directors at Michigan Legacy Art Park. Returning board members are Patty Pelizzari and Mary Ann Cheney, who previously served as the board’s president.

Other members include: Katharine Eiferle, president; Thomas Dawson, vice president; Warren Call, treasurer; Brian McCall, secretary; Marilyn L. Wheaton, immediate past president; Diane Collier; Deborah Crandell; Denise Kulak; Joanne B. Murphy; Linda S. Roeser; Maurice White; Ima Williams; Renee Hintz, executive director; Patricia Innis, education director; Dewey Blocksma, sculpture conservator; David Williams, grounds maintenance; Norm Ling, grounds maintenance; and David Barr, founder and artistic director emeritus.


The Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) has awarded the Lakes to Land Regional Initiative with the 2014 Planning Excellence Award for Innovation in Regional Planning, one of the most prestigious awards in the nation for collaborative planning among communities.

The community-driven, volunteer-led Lakes to Land Regional Initiative encompassed 18 governmental units in Manistee and Benzie Counties, including the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The purpose of the initiative was for participating local governments to work in unison to update their master plans and identify shared priorities. The firm Beckett & Raeder, Inc., with offices in Ann Arbor, Traverse City, and Petoskey, was unanimously selected by a leadership team from participating communities to support completion of what is thought to be the largest collaborative planning effort ever undertaken in the state.


Provided the weather cooperates, Crystal Mountain is targeting November 27 (Thanksgiving Day) to open the slopes. Some improvements to the resort include: two new slopes, bringing the total to 50; a partnership with Burton Snowboards and designation as one of only six resorts in the Midwest as a Burton Learn-to-Ride Center; three additional miles of groomed trails for fat tire bikes; and conversion of most of the trails in the Michigan Legacy Art Park to exclusive use by snowshoe enthusiasts.


The Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) is launching Phase 2 of improvements to its service model – a revised City Loop system – following extensive feedback from users and ridership data.

Among the changes are an additional route, City Loop Route 6. This route addresses the demand for cross-town travel within Traverse City and provides a number of transfer options along the route. It also allows for new passenger connections throughout the city so riders do not have to travel to Hall Street or Cass Road transfer stations.

BATA officials said highly used stop locations were kept on the route maps, but stops with low usage were eliminated and replaced with new, more in-demand stops.

A few minor additions were also made to select Village Loop routes to provide coverage to area “hot spots” such as the YMCA, south Cass corridor, and The Arbors apartment complex.