Shorter bike event still drives dollars

February 19, 2011
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Grand Rapids Comptroller Donijo DeJonge said it is difficult to pin down the exact economic impact from a motorcycle rally that is likely to take place this July in downtown because the proposed River City Bike Week has become a weekend event.

Instead of the eight-day rally originally planned, city commissioners said last week they would support a three-day event that will tentatively run Friday, July 22, to Sunday, July 24. “I wanted a few more days for the economic impact. But I support this,” said Commissioner James White.

Event organizers estimated an eight-day rally would have drawn up to 60,000 to downtown with each spending an average of $500, for a $30 million economic boost for downtown businesses. Event promoter Mark Mensch felt about 20,000 would come downtown for the shorter rally.

DeJonge said the scaled-down event could put about $3 million into the coffers of the district’s businesses for the weekend. She estimated that rallygoers could spend $1 million per day over the three days.

“It will be a shot in the arm for the local economy,” said Commissioner Walt Gutowski.

Mensch said motorcyclists will spend the rally’s first five days at sites outside of Grand Rapids, including the I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa. He also said the downtown portion of the event would not have food vendors or a beer tent so as not to compete with downtown businesses. He said set-up for the rally would begin Thursday, July 21, after 5 p.m.

Mensch said the rally has reserved a campsite for the motorcyclists. “It will be a regional rally,” he said. Still, Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small said his organization would help Mensch make any additional hotel reservations.

Mensch said he wants city officials to sit on an advisory board to help plan the event. Commissioners will have to approve the area designated for the rally.

“I think the more variety we can have and the more events we have downtown, the better off we will be,” said Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss. “And not just economically, but for the community.”

City commissioners also supported two tax abatement requests last week for a pair of manufacturers. Van’s Pattern Corp., 11 Sweet St. NW, and Controlled Plating Technologies, 1100 Godfrey Ave. SW, are the recipients of the tax breaks. Both are adding production equipment; Van’s Pattern Corp. also will make improvements to its location.

Controlled Plating Technologies is investing $160,252 and creating four new jobs that will pay an average of $10 per hour. “An investment of $160,000 for four jobs is great,” said White.

Van’s Pattern Corp. is investing $425,000 and also will hire four new employees, who will earn about $18 an hour and receive benefits.

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