Leaders & Innovators: Michael MihalichMichael Mihalich is CEO and founder of MJR Digital Cinemas in Oak Park. MJR Digital Cinemas has eight locations with 132 screens in Michigan. More than 30 years ago, Mihalich moved to Detroit and started MJR Theatre Service Inc., with about 90 screens. MJR has a history of expansion and industdry firsts, including its Chesterfield Township location, which was one of the first theaters in the United States to be converted to stadium seating. Recently, MJR's Marketplace Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights has been the top grossing theater in Michigan. The company recently announced that it will build a $16 million, 74,000-square-foot theater in Troy. Scheduled to open in 2014, the theater will feature the MJR Epic Experience for extra comfort and the MJR Studio Bar & Lounge. Mihalich started his career at Warner Brothers and worked his way through various positions. He then partnered with Jim Payne and Marvin Mann to form Midwest Entertainment, an independent distribution, booking and buying company, which he later sold. He then worked at Cooperative Theatres of Ohio before founding MJR. Mihalich also has been the executive producer on three films, including "The Rosary Murders" with the screenplay written by Fred Walton and Elmore Leonard. Mihalich attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship until an injury ended his career.
Leader & Innovator: Rich WestRICH WEST is founder and president of West Labs Scientific in Kalamazoo. Located at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, West Labs Scientific performs cellular analysis for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as for research and academic institutions. A rapidly growing startup, the firm has expanded to add additional services, including flow cytometry, cellular analysis and imaging, veterinary hematology, and blood chemistry. In addition to developing West Labs Scientific, West has built relationships with Michigan colleges and universities and has served as a guest lecturer and host for interns from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Bridges to Baccalaureate program, the Michigan Shifting Gears program, and the Professional Science Master's program at Grand Valley State University. He visits middle and high schools throughout West Michigan, bringing a message that inspires and promotes careers in science. West’s early career was spent working in clinical flow cytometry at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. He then created and developed the stem cell engineering lab for the pediatric blood and bone marrow transplant team of De Vos Children’s Hospital, and fostered strong ties between the hospital, Michigan Community Blood Centers, and Calvin College. West then built and developed the flow cytometry core facility at the Van Andel Institute before becoming an entrepreneur. West is certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists with his qualification in flow cytometry. He serves on the board of the Coopersville Area Public Schools and the Michigan Association of School Boards. West received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Central Michigan University. More at www.ltu.edu/leaders.