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Wednesday, August 27,2014

New in town

OLD TOWN CHANGES

by ALLAN I. ROSS
Last month, Old Town Commercial Association executive director Louise Gradwhol announced she would resign to pursue a medical degree. This week her replacement was named: Old Town resident Megan Barrett will assume responsibilities as executive director on Tuesday.

“I am really looking forward to being involved in the revitalization of the area,” said Barrett in a press release. “In the five years I have lived here, I have enjoyed seeing it grow, and seeing the pride of the residents and business owners grow. I am excited to continue that in this new role.”

The Old Town Commercial Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating the growth and revitalization of Lansing’s Old Town district through economic development, community empowerment and cultural enrichment. Barrett, formerly the director of public relations and fund development at Care Free Medical and Dental in Lansing, will oversee all aspects of the daily functions of the Old Town office and manage the association’s Main Street Program, fund development and oversight of four Old Town committees.

“Megan demonstrated a proven track record of successful community outreach and an ability to cultivate community partnerships resulting in increased company revenue and mission awareness,” said Old Town Commercial Association Board President Karen Stefl in a press release. “We look forward to her presence in our neighborhood.”

Stronger Gravity
Last month I reported Old Town home furnishing, antique and vintage shop Love, Betti, 100 E. Grand River Ave., was closing. But owner Kristin Olson said there´s more to the story.

“We’re closing Sept. 1, not going out of business,” she said. “The tenants next door are growing and needed more room. Love, Betti will continue to exist, just in another form.”

Olson said she’s looking for small warehouse where she can host periodic sales for the Love, Betti merchandise, and continues to bring in new merchandise every day.

“So many businesses close because business didn’t do well, but not here,” she said. “This is a positive story about growth.”

Olson owns the building, and is moving her store out to accommodate the growth of next-door neighbor Gravity Works Design Development, a software development company servicing government departments, schools and nonprofits. Managing partner Jeff McWherter opened the business four years ago in a 2,300-square-foot space with two employees; it now employs 14. The addition of Love, Betti’s 1,200 square feet will allow him to install space for private meetings and hire at least two more people right away. Gravity Works provides software for local and statewide government agencies and nonprofits.

“By expanding, we can grow as a company, but we can also keep graduates in town,” McWherter said. “Lansing’s a fun place. It’s easy to keep people here if there are jobs.”

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