Much For Which To Be Thankful

November 24, 2003
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Grand Rapids Business Journal pointedly salutes in this week of Thanksgiving the phenomenal number of businesses that have contributed toward nearly $2 billion in development since 1990. Every single business involved in the economic wellbeing of this city also is a leader in a wide variety of community projects, from Mel Trotter to the annual Hammer for Hope project. Grand Rapids Public Schools has been the beneficiary of all manner of in-kind giving, the annual Macker Tournament fundraiser for athletics, for instance, or the local musicians who banded together to produce a CD and gave the schools the proceeds.

Lest the less educated among the media propagate a fallacy, it bears statement here that “profit” is not a dirty word; it funds hundreds of community projects … and jobs. It bears repeating that the entrepreneurs who take tremendous financial risks to start a company do so to earn a living. The losses counted in this year for large and small companies bear witness to those risks and the energy and creativity needed to make the turn. It also has been a year in which many laid-off individuals took the initiative to open new businesses. One certainly hopes that the success of any business begets opportunity to fund additional projects and new opportunities for others.

The Business Journal this week also counts the blessings of those announcing 2004 projects, further adding to the vitality of the community. The state brownfield redevelopment program not only offers repair of vacant, scarred land but also provides the seed for a private business, Mercantile Bank of West Michigan, to re-establish its downtown office. Mercantile expects to add 100 new jobs at the complex, which combines administrative offices, and to re-use current locations as branch offices.

Ed and Michael De Vries have a mixed use residential and commercial business plan for the old city Monroe Avenue Water Filtration plant, one which also leaves the door open to providing space for a water research facility when funding is secured. The development provides the city with additional tax revenue and further enlivens the burgeoning North Monroe neighborhood.

Grand Rapids city commissioners actually said it best. Rick Tormala commented, “Anything that gets this thing moving, functioning and alive is a good thing for the city.” First Ward Commissioner Roy Schmidt went so far as to compliment the developers and the quality of previous projects.

The opening of the new DeVos Place convention center next week with 3,000 convention representatives and an anticipated 7,000 to 8,000 visitors for the Midwest Industrial Woodworking Expo will go far to demonstrate the power of the impact of the new center, built of public and private contributions. Dozens of businesses on the path of the conventioneers will see benefit from the business community members who helped fund the center.

Happy Thanksgiving.    

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