Living Sustainably: MAX is there for your winter travel

By Shelby Pedersen, Macatawa Area Express

MAX buses provide a safe alternative to driving yourself in snowy weather.

Even in the snowy, winter months of West Michigan, the Max Transit system seeks to keep its service accessible to all passengers on 11 fixed bus routes, along with demand-response service, throughout the greater Holland/Zeeland area.
When there is inclement weather, we tell our drivers the same thing you tell a new driver: Drive safe and don’t be afraid to take your time. We want to make sure that passengers, bus drivers and neighboring vehicles are all safe.
And for passengers we suggest: Have patience and bundle up while waiting at the stops. If a stop is in a snow bank, do not stand on the snow bank or the road; to reduce risk of injury, wait at the next clear driveway.
Image result for max transit and holland, mi and snow“During this time of year, there are more dark hours. Being this dark can make it more difficult to see passengers at a bus stop,” said Dan Bench, a MAX bus operator. “We recommend either wearing reflective clothing or using anything to help flag the driver down and let them know you’re there. The light from a cell phone, a flash light – just something to help yourself be seen.”
The MAX office at 171 Lincoln Ave. Suite 20 in Holland has keychain flash lights to offer to passengers during this time.
Sometimes if the roads become too cluttered with snow and slush, we may switch to what we call “Snow Routes.” Our road supervisors assess each route throughout the day to see if the roads are clear or congested. If we believe a bus could get stuck or would not be able to turn around in part of the route, we
will change that route to its snow route.
You can review snow routes in the master bus schedule, located on MAX buses, at the MAX office, and in some local businesses, or online at Riders can also sign up for text alerts online or by texting “maxtransit” to 353535, to receive updates to see when a route is going into snow route.
Ridership at transit agencies can be affected by many factors, although the weather doesn’t tend to have a big impact. According to, economic growth can impact ridership as well as gas prices as people have more funds for cars and driving. With the economy growing and oil prices declining, many transit agencies saw a decrease in ridership starting back in 2016. MAX saw a decrease in fixed route ridership from 28,203 passengers in December 2016 to 24,268 passengers in December 2017. In early 2018, ridership started slow, but increased even through the winter months.
Bus in SnowWhether it be rain, sleet or snow, you can be certain the MAX will take you there!
 Shelby Pedersen grew up in Holland. She and her sister would ride the MAX bus all over Holland. Two years ago, Shelby joined MAX Transit as an information specialist. She is now marketing and customer service managers assistant.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Living Sustainably: Checking competitors boosts economic sustainability

By Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage Image result for lakeshore advantage
The Holland area is blessed to have one of the strongest economies in the state of Michigan.
Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in Michigan over the last eight years, its population growing at a rate of 8.5 percent. Allegan County has grown at a rate of 4.5 percent over that period, making it the seventh fastest growing county in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which the Holland area is part, is one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S., according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Exploring what makes other communities successful, Michigan West Coast Chamber President Jane Clark and Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens are in downtown Indianapolis, outside of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Given all that, it would be easy now to simply rest on our laurels. But we didn’t become the strongest region in the state by coasting. We did it by hard work.  Over the past year, the Lakeshore Advantage team looked outside our region to ensure our economic health is sustained. To do this, first we had to identify our competition. In-depth research identified four best-in-class national communities that we compete with for jobs and talent: Indianapolis, IN; Greenville / Spartanburg, SC; Nashville, Tenn; and Cleveland, OH.
One consideration was expansion of existing local companies. We know that when employers seek to expand, they often consider their current locations first. Sixty-nine percent of area employers interviewed for our 2018 Business Intelligence Report stated they have plans to expand in the next three years. Of the companies reporting plans to expand, over half have locations in other states.

These companies have a decision to make: Will they expand here, or elsewhere? In 2018, Lakeshore Advantage assisted with 27 business expansions in our region, accounting for over $235 million in private investment and 750 new jobs in our community. So, we also considered local employer concentration with out-of-state locations in choosing our comparative communities.

Michigan Economic Development Manager Bill Kratz and Lakeshore Advantage COO Angela Huesman check out public art in Spartanburg as part of exploring what makes other communities successful.

Next, we hit the road. This fall we trekked to Indianapolis and Greenville / Spartanburg, along with representatives from the West Coast Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  We went to size up our competition, to learn best practices of those regions for attracting people and businesses. This learning helps the Holland area continue to be a top choice for business investment and talent attraction. In the next six months, we will complete all four learning tours by visiting Nashville and Cleveland.

Here are key nuggets of economic sustainability we have learned so far from our comparisons:
Regionalism: Key is an understanding of the region’s value proposition as a whole. These communities do not stand alone; they work with partners in neighboring communities to compete for top talent.
Train for the Future: Sustainable investment is being made by the K-12 systems and community colleges to train students for jobs of the future. These programs are developed side-by-side with area business leaders to ensure they meet current and future workforce demand.
Community Building: Diversity and inclusion are necessary to build community.  Opportunities include engagement in behind-the-scenes operations at arts, entertainment and philanthropic organizations to develop leaders early and create a sense of belonging.

Collaboration, investing in local talent and placemaking are themes we see that make other regions –and our region – successful and sustainable economically. Our local economic culture is one in which these ideals thrive, which positions us for success in the future.  Though we continue to make strides in these areas, seeing our competition firsthand reminds us we can’t rest. There is still much work to be done to stay one step ahead of our competition.
 Jennifer Owens is president of Lakeshore Advantage, a regional non-profit economic development organization whose passion is to ensure good jobs in a vibrant economy for current and future generations.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Living Sustainably: Bus ride to Farmers Market pays off in MAX Market Bucks

By Shelby Pedersen, Macatawa Area Express

A new program will offer $10 of MAX Market Bucks for riding the MAX bus to the Holland Farmers Market.

Holland Farmers Market shoppers will be able to double up their savings simply by riding the MAX bus to the market in June.

A new program will launch June 1 in which people who ride the bus to the market can earn MAX Market Bucks to redeem at market vendors. The program will run through June 30.

Many community members go to the Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the summer. Often, however, they experience busy traffic and limited parking because of how popular the Farmers Market is.

The popular Holland Farmers Market attracts crowds – and traffic congestion – on some of its busiest days.

An alternative is this new program that encourages everyone to use a green way to commute to the market and purchase farm fresh produce. Not only will this ease the troubles of parking and traffic, but riders will earn up to 10 Market Bucks and reduce their CO 2 emissions.

To join in the program, hop on the Route 3 MAX bus to get to the Farmers Market and receive a punch card. To get to the market, riders will get off at Eighth Street west of Maple. Buses stop there at three minutes after every hour.

Riders who get off at this stop will get their card punched by the MAX driver. Then, on the market grounds at the Market Office trailer, riders can get another punch and a reusable MAX bag.

After two trips on the MAX to the Farmers Market, riders will have earned 10 MAX Market Bucks!

Macatawa Area TransitThe MAX Market Bucks are redeemable through the Holland Farmers Market and are accepted by most vendors at the market.
MAX is excited to kick off this challenge to encourage local residents to participate in a greener transportation option. For any more information, reach out to MAX at (616)355-1010 and watch social media for more updates.

 Shelby Pedersen is the marketing assistant and ADA coordinator at the Macatawa Area Express. Go to for more information on routes and riding the bus.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Living Sustainably: Skilled workers needed to sustain local manufacturing

By Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage
The Lakeshore region is driven by manufacturing. Nearly one quarter of the jobs in Ottawa County are manufacturing-based, which is almost three times higher than the national average. Many of these jobs require skills, certification and training beyond high school, but not necessarily a college degree. Yet, the average wage in manufacturing is significantly higher than the average income.
As we found by interviewing 100 local company executives last year, 75 percent of these businesses plan to expand in the next three years. But more than half said there are barriers to growing here, citing the need to secure talent, particularly skilled trade workers and engineers, as their number-one issue.
Our current talent pipeline is not sustainable for our employers’ future growth. It takes actions, perception changes, investment and everyone working together to create a sustainable economic future for our employers and citizens. The good news is significant forward motion is occurring in our region.
This year, 57 local companies will receive $2.4 million to train their workforce and help fill their talent gaps through the State of Michigan’s Skilled Trade Training fund. This funding, administered by West Michigan Works!, helps to provide transferable skills to new and existing employees in high demand careers like CNC machinists, welders, carpenters and electricians.

Lakeshore Advantage and West Michigan Works! are bringing the “Hot Jobs” report and wage information to life for teachers by sharing skills, competencies and education levels needed for the most in-demand careers, along with what they pay. Last year, we shared this information with more than 300 teachers in the lakeshore region.
These are great strides, but we have more work to do. Continued forward progress will take a strong partnership between our employers and school districts to ensure the incredible career exploration programs, like those offered at the Ottawa Intermediate Area School District Careerline Tech Center, are led by strong manufacturing mentors.
Progress will also require a shift in the minds of parents to recognize that earning an advanced certification in a program like welding is just as significant and lucrative an accomplishment as earning a college degree. As parents, educators, peer students and citizens, we must recognize manufacturing and skilled trade jobs as fruitful career choices with potential and opportunity to thrive in our community and professionally.
A sustainable economic future is one in which individuals are successful as their interests match their education levels, skills and careers; in which our companies grow as their talent needs are met, and in which our region experiences a vibrant economy with great jobs now and in the future. For everyone.

 Jennifer Owens has been president since 2013 of Lakeshore Advantage, a non-profit economic development organization that connects businesses to the resources they need to grow in Ottawa County, northern Allegan County and West Michigan.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

RecycleMania 2018 – February 17 – Men’s Basketball Game

For the first year, Hope College is participating in the GameDay Basketball category of RecycleMania! RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

DeVos Fieldhouse is set to host the competition at the Men’s Basketball game on February 17, 2018.

We need your help to keep as much waste out of the landfill. Waste receptacles will be available throughout the fieldhouse collecting compostable, recyclable, and landfill materials. Their respective weights will be reported and Hope College will fight for the best spot for the least amount of landfill waste produced during this game.

Want to know more about composting/recycling on campus?  Click here or watch this short YouTube video.    


For more information about the national competition please visit:

Living Sustainably: Group launches spring sustainability series

By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute
Do you want to learn more about what is happening in the community?  The spring 2018 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series has announced another great line-up, full of educational events sharing how Holland is becoming a more sustainable community.

Holland Michigan Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore
The series will continue to share information about work as it relates to the city’s Sustainability Framework. All of the events, with the exception of May, will take place on a Tuesday at Herrick District Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Here’s this spring’s lineup:

 “Economic Development: Sustainable Government,” Tuesday, Jan. 9:  This program will explore sources of local government funds and review the city and county budget process and near-term and long-term needs within the community.
 “Quality of Life: Community Policing for Peaceful Living,” Tuesday, Feb. 6:  A safe and friendly community is essential to our sense of well-being and quality of life. How does the Holland Police Department’s community policing approach help local residents of all walks of life find life satisfaction? Our discussion will address fair and equitable interactions and the needs of our community.
 “Community Knowledge: Planting and Saving Seeds,” Tuesday, March 6:  Ben Cohen, sustainable homesteader and proprietor of Small House Farm, is an heirloom seed activist and educator. He is passionate about growing food and will discuss why planting, saving, and sharing seeds is essential to the cultivation of sustainable neighborhoods, healthy communities and the preservation of history. This event coincides with the launch of Herrick District Library’s seed saving library.
 “Environmental Awareness/Action: Fly Fishing,” Tuesday, April 24:  For over 100 years, fly fishermen have been leaders in the watershed conservation movement. Local author Jon Osborn and illustrator Joe Van Faasen, of the book “Classic Michigan Flies: 16 Legendary Patterns,” will speak about Michigan’s fly fishing heritage.
 “Transportation: Green Commute Expo,” Friday, May 18 (Special Friday event, 6 to 7:30 p.m.)   As part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s Green Commute Week (May 13-19), the expo will include a presentation about green commute options in the Holland/Zeeland area and the role transportation plays in the 40-Year Community Energy Plan, followed by fun, hands-on activities for the whole family.
This series of free educational events began in the fall of 2014. Our mission is to educate and empower citizens to live more sustainably.

The series is sponsored by: City of Holland and its Sustainability Committee’s efforts;; Herrick District Library and its adult programming; Hope College through the Sustainability Institute; the League of Women Voters; the Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University’s sustainability program; and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.  For more information visit the Events section at or follow us on Facebook at Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore.

 Michelle Gibbs, is the director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI).  The vision for the HHCSI is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and the planet.  Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

Holland’s Sustainability Framework includes seven topics related to how sustainability awareness can improve our community’s future.
 Smart energy
 Economic development
 Transportation
 Community & neighborhood
 Quality of life
 Community knowledge
 Environmental action & awareness

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge of the community is an incredible resource, that knowledge and energy must be channeled to where it is needed.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

December 2017 Sustainability News

December 2017 News

December 31, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Understanding funding for a stronger community

December 31, 2017 – Add Shoe Year’s hikes to your resolutions

December 30, 2017 – Obama’s ‘pollution-free society’ is needed to combat climate change

December 30, 2017 – Projects to look out for from Ottawa County Parks and Rec. in 2018

December 29, 2017 – Hope College profs study preschooler sleep habits

December 28, 2017 – 5 things to know about Holland Township’s zoning ordinance rewrite

December 28, 2017 – Higher energy costs accompany bitter cold snap in US

December 28, 2017 – 11 videos that captured the spirit of sustainability in 2017

December 27, 2017 – Director to focus on economics of affordable housing in county

December 27, 2017 – The Slow But Steady Progression Toward Environmental Sustainability

December 27, 2017 – Ask Amy: Celebrate the giving season by donating

December 27, 2017 – Ottawa County approves plans for Parkside Marina redevelopment

December 27, 2017 – The most consequential environmental stories of 2017

December 26, 2017 – Ways to eat more fruit, veg in winter

December 25, 2017 – Hope College students start project to combat hate

December 24, 2017 – What will become of the James DeYoung plant?

December 21, 2017 – LEDs Cut 500 Million Tons of CO2 From the Sky in 2017

December 21, 2017 – China Launches a Cap-and-Trade Program to Cut Carbon Emissions

December 20, 2017 – What the tax bill may mean for energy efficiency

December 20, 2017 – Michigan Supreme Court: Return $554M to school employees

December 19, 2017 – Can You Balance Gift-giving and Sustainability?

December 19, 2017 – EPA Formally Ask Stakeholders How to Change the Clean Power Plan

December 18, 2017 – More Companies Set 100% Renewable Energy Goals in 2017

December 18, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Solar panels system is first for city retrofit project

December 18, 2017 – GTM Research Reports US Solar Installation Slowdown

December 18, 2017 – The Year In Corporate Sustainability: The Best Of Times And The Worst Of Times

December 18, 2017 – Advice for breaking down sustainability silos in 2018

December 18, 2017 – 3 Ways to Make a Commitment to Sustainability Your Customers Want to See

December 17, 2017 – Here are some of the largest 2018 projects for Holland

December 17, 2017 – Letter: Volunteer at the Community Kitchen

December 17, 2017 – Bucs Care Food Pantry launched at Grand Haven High

December 16, 2017 – Trump Administration Reportedly Instructs CDC On Its Own Version Of 7 Dirty Words

December 15, 2017 – My Year of No Shopping

December 15, 2017 – Superbacteria could soon be eating China’s factory waste

December 15, 2017 – Environmental Management in 2017 – Can You Guess the Top 5 Trends?

December 15, 2017 – Movie review: ‘Downsizing’ makes for a great tall tale about getting small

December 14, 2017 – Mayors tout the importance of energy efficiency in meeting climate goals

December 14, 2017 – Rethinking sustainability: A greener Grand Rapids starts from the ground up

December 14, 2017 – Sustainability: The World’s Change Agent

December 14, 2017 – Central Massachusetts businesses getting creative when it comes to high energy costs

December 13, 2017 – Grand Rapids selected among 12 U.S. cities for Zero Cities Project that targets energy use

December 12, 2017 – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Announces $18.5 Million for Offshore Wind Research

December 12, 2017 – 4 Questions for Your Local Organic Farmer

December 12, 2017 – Want to Buy Organic? 3 Steps to Avoid the Fakes

December 12, 2017 – 5 Companies Who Succeed By Prioritizing Sustainability Over Profits

December 11, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Herrick District Library is Holland’s ‘third space’

December 11, 2017 – Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area awards $109,750 in grants

December 11, 2017 – 4 Tips to Improve Electric Vehicle Battery Range this Winter

December 10, 2017 – The Organic Label is the Gold Standard [Infographic]

December 10, 2017 – Guest Editorial: Enbridge agreement a small step in the right direction

December 9, 2017 – Survey: Dune supporters include stormwatchers, ecologists, campers, economists

December 8, 2017 – Holland documentary ‘Wilderness to World Class’ premieres next week

December 7, 2017 – 2018 Fuel Economy Guide Helps Consumers Save Money

December 7, 2017 – This Was the Year Sustainable Fashion Got Sexy—Read the Highlights from Vogue Here


December 7, 2017 – Outdoor Discovery Center embraces entrepreneurial culture, empowering staff members

December 7, 2017 – Ready for School: 63 percent of Holland-area kids ready for kindergarten

December 7, 2017 – LG Chem Michigan now landfill free facility

December 6, 2017 – Simple ways to give back all year long

December 5, 2017 – Erin Brockovich tied to class action lawsuit over toxic Michigan dumping

December 5, 2017 – Ready for School to hold annual breakfast

December 5, 2017 – Sea turtle released back into gulf where it was rescued by Florida officer

December 4, 2017 – Sustainable Reporting: Lessons From the Fortune 500

December 4, 2017 – Trump signs proclamation to scale back 2 national monuments

December 4, 2017 – What is the home energy rating system (HERS)? [Infographic]

December 3, 2017 – Holland council backs out of collectively asking for DACA 

December 3, 2017 – Hope College gets more ‘Code Blue’ towers

December 3, 2017 – Michigan Roll Call: See how Holland-area legislators are voting in Lansing

December 3, 2017 – Wrap up of police calls in Ottawa, Allegan counties

December 2, 2017 – Michigan Has Its Very Own Dutch Christmas Market And You’ll Want To Visit

December 1, 2017 – Veteran says clean energy is good for the military

December 1, 2017 – Who Will Pay For Nature? How To Catalyze Private Investment In Sustainability

Holland Board of Public Works 2017 Annual Report

“In this 2017 Year in Review, we’ve explored the idea that Holland is a community like no other, and part of what makes us unique is the quality and innovation delivered through our utility services.” – Dave Koster, HBPW General Manager. Read this full letter in this year’s annual report.

HHCSI is partnering with Local First in the first annual “2018 Lakeshore Awards.”

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute is partnering with Local First in the first annual “2018 Lakeshore Awards.”


The Local First LocalMotion Awards began in 2011 as a way to promote best business practices and recognize the achievements of local businesses and individuals. It continues to be a way to showcase entrepreneurs who are using their business as a force for good. This means doing outstanding work in sustainability, helping make our community more vibrant and resilient, and strengthening our local economy.

In 2018, we will honor Lakeshore business owners at the First Lakeshore Annual Meeting in February (stay tuned for more details on the event).


Any local business in West Michigan that fits the LocalFirst membership criteria is eligible (but they do not have to be a member of Local First). Recipients are selected based on the results of their Quick Impact Assessment (QIA). All nominees will be asked to fill out the QIA, which measures business practices from the triple bottom line such as environmental impact, charitable gifts, and employee satisfaction.

Good for Environment: businesses are nominated for having outstanding practices or policies that show stewardship of the environment
Good for Community: businesses are nominated for giving back to the community
Good for Employees: businesses are nominated for going above and beyond to support their employees

To see a listing of previous winners, and visit: