It's hard to believe that West Michigan's economy is stuck in neutral when attending the Grand Rapids Business Journal's annual Newsmaker of the Year luncheon.
More than 500 people braved last Monday's snowy weather to celebrate the winner — and themselves.
Development on the Medical Mile earned the nod as the Newsmaker of the Year, but the list of finalists was just as impressive. The celebrated projects included condo growth in downtown GR, death of the Single Business Tax, the Avenue of the Arts, X-Rite's acquisition and move, the "mystery development," Walker's Orchard Park project, growth in downtown Muskegon, the WIRED grant for work force innovation and the former Lear plant's rebirth.
National media coverage often depicts Michigan as a failing state with its hopes pinned on a failing industry — automotive manufacturing. The truth, however, was quite evident at Monday's meeting hosted by the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.
In accepting the Newsmaker Award on behalf of his family's involvement in Michigan Street Development, Dan DeVos said, "We are very proud of what's going up in Grand Rapids. It's a great place to be, and we as a family will continue to do what we can to support its continued growth and development."
One of the largest construction firms in the Midwest, Christman Co. was no less enthusiastic in its support for West Michigan. When accepting the award, Christman spokesman Joe Hooker said, "Over the past three years, hundreds of talented firms and individuals have contributed to the medical corridor project. With at least four more years to go on the project, that number will likely grow to thousands. Once complete, construction jobs will be replaced by permanent jobs. Knowing that the project will provide smart strategic growth in the community and also have long-term sustainability, this investment decision has been extremely easy from day one."
It's easy to invest in West Michigan. Just ask the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, which voted Thursday to situate its MSUWestMichiganMedicalSchool on the Michigan Street Development site, adding yet another significant piece to the burgeoning Medical Mile.