THE COMEBACK KID
Despite its post-furniture industry slump, the city of Grand Rapids is finally back on the road to prosperity, and people are noticing.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the New York Times threw the city of Grand Rapids a bone this week when they published a story by reporter Keith Schneider called “A Michigan City Bets on Food for Its Growth.”
The article praises Grand Rapids for the transformation it has made from a small city that was “foundering a generation ago with shrinking and aging population and poor job prospects for young people” into a place that is “full of young professionals in good careers, who enjoy a low cost of living, first-rate restaurants with locally brewed beer and a variety of residential options near work.”
Grand Rapids is also boosting the state’s agricultural industry, playing off of the region’s strengths by emphasizing local and organic food consumption through a whole host of locally-owned, fresh foot restaurants and the downtown Farmer’s Market.
The article highlights the planned $30 million, 130,000-square foot reenvisioning of the Farmer’s Market – a Downtown Market, which scheduled to open during the city’s annual Restaurant Week next year. It’s part of the city’s wider campaign of urban civic projects, made possible in large part by the wealth of public-private partnerships in Grand Rapids.
“Few small cities, and possibly none in the industrial Midwest, have been nearly as successful. One reason is the distinctive partnerships formed between the city’s redevelopment agencies and wealthy industrialists and philanthropists. Hundreds and millions of private dollars have been raised here to build a downtown that encourages entrepreneurs, develops career-track jobs and attracts new residents.”
The article sites other major projects funded by public-private partnerships – Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus, for starters, along with the Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids Art Museum, DeVos Performance Hall and even Grand Valley State University’s Pew Campus.
All of this to say: a city is nothing if not a reflection of its community, and Grand Rapids has one with a vision. So here’s to you, Grand Rapids – a city with a vision well on it’s way to fruition – all thanks to a population that believes in its own potential.