Saturday, December 2

Grand Rapids venue owner senator’s guest for State of the Union

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids businessman will be Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s guest for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

It’s a longstanding tradition for members of Congress to get to invite a guest to be in the gallery as the president speaks. That tradition has been modified this year because of COVID-19 precautions: the guests will not be in the gallery but will instead be attending virtually.

Stabenow, a Democrat and Michigan’s senior senator, said her guest was chosen to showcase a business’s recovery from the struggles of the pandemic. She invited Scott Hammontree, the co-owner of The Intersection in downtown Grand Rapids.

“He has been very involved in organizing a group of folks that have theaters and local arts venues and music venues and so on who had to, unfortunately, like so many other businesses, shut down during the pandemic, very difficult to survive,” Stabenow said. “We worked with them to be able to put support into the American Rescue Plan that allowed them to be able to come out of this. They’re coming out, they’ve been able to survive, they’re bringing their employees back.”

You can expect to hear during Biden’s speech some examples of what the administration sees as successes despite the pandemic. Hammontree’s may be one that is highlighted.

Melissa Isaac of Mt. Pleasant will be a guest of first lady Jill Biden. Isaac is a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and teacher who worked to provide more metal health support to her students and their families.

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