Final Lap In DeVos Place Fund Drive

October 24, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — There are fewer than 138 tiles left, as the Economic Club of Grand Rapids got the first one.

How come?

Because the Grand Action Committee chose last week's Economic Club luncheon, held in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel's Ambassador Ballroom, as the event to unveil the last leg of its DeVos Place fund drive.

"We have pre-sold over $21,000 worth of bricks and pavers," said Jim Dunlap, president of Huntington National Bank.

Dunlap and Huntington Vice President of Communication Relations Sharron Reynolds are co-chairs of Grand Reflections. That's the $1.5 million public fundraising portion of the $33 million Grand Action capital campaign for the new convention and tradeshow center. The center will open its exhibit space to its first convention in just six weeks. To reach the $1.5 million goal, Grand Action is selling 4-by-8 bricks, 12-by-12 tiles and 24-by-24 pavers to the general public at $100, $1,000, and $5,000 apiece respectively. Buyers can inscribe on all three, and the bricks, tiles and pavers will be placed in the Riverfront Promenade, a paved plaza just south of DeVos Place on Lyon Street near the Grand River. "We have turned the corner and are moving down the stretch, but still have a way to go to the finish line," said Bob Hooker, vice chairman of C&H Holdings LLC and chairman of the committee's capital campaign. Grand Action has 5,000 bricks and 1,600 pavers to sell, along with the 138 tiles. A call to Grand Action at 456-8100 gets an order form, as does going to a branch of Huntington National Bank, Fifth Third Bank or Bank One. People interested in participating in the fund drive also may make contact through the Web sites of the Grand Rapids Jaycees and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. The start of the sale actually marks the second time that Grand Action — a group of 250 people in business, education, health and human services, labor and religion — has held a fund-raising brick sale. In 1996, the committee began selling bricks for Van Andel Arena. As of last week, Grand Action reported it had sold 6,500 bricks at $50 each. Dunlap noted, incidentally, that sales of the Van Andel Arena bricks are still occurring every month.

So far, the entire DeVos Place drive has raised $31.5 million of the project's $33 million goal. Of that amount, $29 million has come in the form of major gifts.

The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation gave the lead gift of $15 million to the building that bears their family name.

Nine philanthropists, businesses and foundations gave $1 million or more to the campaign, while six more donated between $500,000 to $1 million.

"If you have any doubt in West Michigan's generosity, just take a look at what has happened over the last 10 years," Hooker said.

Hooker pointed out that in their years of community leadership together and follow-through, the members of Grand Action have pledged $60 million to local projects over the past decade and have raised $58.5 million of that total pledge.

"We have traveled a long way on this journey over the past 10, 12 years," said John Canepa, who co-chairs Grand Action with David Frey and Dick DeVos.

Grand Action has financially supported the construction of the $75 million arena and the $212 million DeVos Place.

The group is also funding the interior renovation of the DeVos Performance Hall, a $4.4 million project that begins in June.

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