Partnerships Are Region's Strength

December 27, 2004
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At the close of business in 2004, the greater Grand Rapids metropolitan area is poised for further gains, especially as those offset any further losses. The headline for the Focus Section this week declares, “A Year of Unfinished Business,” which certainly sets the stage for a flurry of activity in 2005.

Business owners know that good fortune comes as a result of teamwork, and 2004 once again saw many collaborative ventures that will continue to spur growth in this region. It is with sadness that we again comment on the community loss in the death of Jay Van Andel, who led dozens of such partnerships and left a template for others to follow.

DeVos Place
ends its first full year of operation, complemented by the renovations of the 25-year-old DeVos Performance Hall, which brought additional public and private contributions, and the last stages of the renovation of the Welsh Auditorium into the Steelcase Ballroom.

It is a collaborative effort that is creating a citywide WiFi project, spearheaded by the CommunityMediaCenter. The project will create a wireless connection for the entire city.

CommunityMediaCenter also took the lead in the effort to reclaim the Wealthy Street Theatre. Private donations and community fund raising continues in 2005 for this preservation effort.

Collaborative efforts are building the arts and entertainment district downtown, and new, affordable housing will complement it along South Division.

No fewer than four neighborhoods and four business districts helped create the Uptown district and win a $100,000 state grant to assist improvements, including green building projects.

Mayor George Heartwell noted that more than 17 entities were involved in the project.

Six cities helped create the Rapid Central Station while the Interurban Transit Partnership continued to plan for light rail, express bus and other mass transit options using a demonstration corridor.

A giant step in furthering metropolitan cooperation, Wyoming is at last among the fold in the Grand Valley Metropolitan Council.

Muskegon partnerships have created a Main Street Advisory Board to draw new investment as the city continues its downtown revitalization. Cooperative efforts of a different type were attained as businesses associated with the Muskegon Air Fair patiently await a revenue bounce forward in 2005.

Local restaurants in the Grand Rapids area banded together to strengthen their collective position as more national franchise eateries open in the suburban areas.

The Ferris State University/Kendall College of Art & Design collaborative plan for downtown student housing, and a new partnership with the soon-to-move Grand RapidsArt Museum, surely will benefit downtown.

The most demonstrative West Michigan story of partnership in 2004, however, belongs to Trivalent Group. Its engineers worked with those from a former competitor, CyberNET, which declared bankruptcy and was in the midst of IRS raids just before Thanksgiving. The employees of both companies worked through the holiday weekend to save the extensive national network of an East Coast logistics company with which CyberNET had contracted. Despite the dastardly deeds of CyberNET’s owner, the employees and those of a competitor offer the hard evidence of the West Michigan work force partnerships created with business.     

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