Economic Development, Human Resources, and Nonprofits

Grand Rapids Whitewater hires president and CEO

July 21, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Economic impact of river restoration coming
The proposed Grand River restoration would cover more than 1,300 acres along the river’s downtown path and create two new riverside parks. Photo by Michael Buck

The downtown river restoration project has a new leader.

Grand Rapids Whitewater has hired Richard Bishop as its president and CEO, following a nationwide search.

Bishop will begin the role on August 1.

“I look forward to working with the Grand Rapids Whitewater Board, federal, state and local elected officials and staff, community members and the private sector to complete the project,” Bishop said.

“The project will improve conditions for river habitat and fishing, enhance the river for local recreation users and provide opportunities for economic growth through tourism and land development along this run of the river.”

Bishop will now take the helm of the organization spearheading the movement to restore the Grand River, taking over the role of the volunteer co-founders, Chris Muller and Chip Richards.

Muller and Richards launched the effort in 2009. Muller said it was time to hire a full-time director to ensure on-time and on-budget management of the $35-million project. Funds for the project are expected to be a mixture of private and public funds.

In 2014, an economic impact study was released suggesting the restored river could net an impact of $16 to $19 million a year for Grand Rapids.

“Richard’s river restoration experience, along with his career history serving both the public and private sectors, makes him an ideal candidate to lead the historic transformation of the Grand River,” Muller said.

Bishop had served since 2005 as the president of Uptown Columbus Inc. and Uptown Whitewater Management in Columbus, Georgia. In that time, he managed the $26-million restoration of the Chattahoochee River.

From 1999 to 2005, Bishop was the deputy city manager of Columbus, Georgia.

“The Chattahoochee river restoration project has several similarities to the Grand River project, and they are seeing the significant environmental, economic and social benefits of a restored urban waterway,” Muller said.

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