Economic Development, Nonprofits, and Travel & Tourism

What they’ve accomplished

Grand Action’s fingerprints are all over downtown projects.

September 15, 2017
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CAA buildings drew visitors from all states and canada last year
Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids is one of the 100 busiest arenas in the world. Photo by Johnny Quirin

Grand Action was founded in 1991, originally as an outgrowth of Grand Vision.

Dick DeVos, who would later become CEO of Amway Corp. after his father Richard, assembled more than 50 community leaders to discuss the vision of building an arena in the downtown area.

John Canepa, president of then-Old Kent Bank, and David Frey, president of then-Union Bank, joined DeVos in April 1993. That same year, Grand Vision officially changed its name to Grand Action.

The Grand Action Committee held convocation in September 1993 to showcase plans for constructing a 12,000-seat, free-standing arena. The site would be on an eight-acre parking lot. The project began in the fall of 1994 and the grand opening was held in October 1996.

Van Andel Arena comprises 294,000 square feet, with a 26,000-square-foot arena. The total cost for the project was $77 million, $56 million of which came from public funding and $21 million from private funds. The arena was named after Jay and Betty Van Andel, the lead donors for the project and business partners and co-founders with the DeVos family of Amway.

In 1997, Grand Action hosted a press conference to announce plans to expand and renovate what was then the Grand Convention Center. The project began in 2000, and it was announced in 2001 the center would be renamed DeVos Place, in honor of the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, which donated $10 million to the project. The expanded convention center cost $215 million, with more than $33 million in funding from the private sector.

Grand Action also played a role in the renovation of the former Majestic Theatre. In 2005, the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and Grand Action unveiled plans for a $10 million renovation and restorations project that would encompass the former Majestic Theater and the adjacent building.

Construction on the property began in September that same year, and the grand unveiling of the new theater was held in September 2006. The building was renamed the Meijer Majestic Theater, in honor of lead donors Fred and Lena Meijer. The project was funded by private philanthropists, with Grand Action serving as a fiduciary agent.

Following an independent economic analysis, Grand Action, along with Michigan State University, Van Andel Institute, Spectrum Health, St. Mary’s Health Care and the Right Place, formed a stakeholders group based around a proposal to move MSU’s College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids. Construction of the new facilities started in 2008 and the project finished in 2010.

The 180,000-square-foot facility cost $90 million. Grand Action and MSU launched a joint fundraising campaign, before construction, in 2006 and raised $40 million.

The MSU Board of Trustees approved naming the building the Secchia Center, in honor of lead donor and MSU alumnus, Peter Secchia.

Most recently, Grand Action had a role in construction of the Downtown Market. The committee launched a feasibility study to explore the idea of the market in 2009. Construction began in March 2012, and the market was open to the public in May 2013.

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