Editorial

Grand Action projects: $420 million Partnerships and impact: priceless

August 30, 2013
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Grand Action co-chairs and contributors this week are celebrating another milestone with festivities marking the grand opening of the Indoor Market Hall, just one facet of the new Downtown Market.

Downtown Market, the Grand Rapids Business Journal Newsmaker of the Year (selected in January), extends Grand Action’s consequential projects that have included Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center. Total project construction now amounts to almost $420 million, and more than $125 million in private philanthropy.

It is appropriate to pause and reflect on such community-wide beneficence and the tremendous economic ripple effect unmeasured by those project numbers. While each of the business group’s four signature private-public partnership projects have created an economic domino, the societal and community impact is even greater.

The full measure of the Grand Action impact in West Michigan is as a model: Partnerships are now part of the region’s DNA. The multitude of smaller projects and new businesses enabled and enhanced by the Grand Action projects create more, new partnerships.

There may be no better example than that set in the last days of August when Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University announced it would merge the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts into its esteemed program as a wholly owned subsidiary of the college.

The university board of trustees agreed to the merger despite UICA’s accumulated debt amounting to approximately $1 million. The 36-year-old arts center has struggled financially since its move into a new $8 million facility at 2 W. Fulton St., and was close to closing its doors. Its long-time donors again have come to the rescue in repayment of the debt while Kendall provides a new business plan and reorganization — but the UICA board continues leadership.

In the past decade, Ferris has invested tremendously in its downtown Grand Rapids campus, including the FSU College of Pharmacy next to the Secchia Center, and the expanded Kendall campus, which now includes the former Grand Rapids Art Museum building renovated to achieve LEED Gold certification. The 101-year-old former post office/courthouse building also achieved the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award.

Kendall President David Rosen said during the announcement: “The UICA sits at the heart of the city. That is appropriate because the heart of our community is its creativity. UICA provides a hub for all who thrive in the creative environment. Any city that wants to be great needs a UICA.”

To that, the Business Journal would add: Any city that wants to be great must have involved philanthropic business leaders. The numbers are available for review, but Grand Action’s impact is immeasurable. That is priceless.

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