Guest Column

Growth of community is threatened with elimination of Pure Michigan

November 22, 2019
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Last year, 670,000 guests experienced Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. People visit Meijer Gardens representing all walks of life and all geographic areas. Walk through our parking lot, and you will see license plates from many states. Our guests learn about us and the great state of Michigan through many means, including the Pure Michigan campaign.

When people travel to West Michigan and Meijer Gardens, they stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and visit other cultural destinations like the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Children’s Museum and the Public Museum. They attend sporting events, like a Grand Rapids Griffins game or the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Unfortunately, partisan budget battles now are threatening the travel and tourism industry, our state’s third largest. Sadly, Pure Michigan has lost its state funding.

Elimination of Pure Michigan, our state’s widely successful, highly acclaimed destination marketing program, is a step in the wrong direction for our state and for the Michigan economy. In fact, the beauty of Pure Michigan is that it has so effectively put the spotlight on many of our smaller communities, attractions and destinations throughout the state.

Pure Michigan’s assistance in bringing travelers to our region, working in partnership with Experience Grand Rapids, has resulted in increased opportunity for our area, more jobs and economic growth. From “Beer City” and our culinary scene to our arts community, visitors now know what Grand Rapids stands for, thanks to these successful marketing programs and our collective industry’s performance in exceeding travelers’ expectations when they arrive.

Pure Michigan is a winner for our state and our region. For every dollar spent on tourism promotion campaigns for our destinations and attractions, over $9 is pumped right back into our economy — an impressive return on investment.

I urge our Legislature and governor to work together to restore Pure Michigan funding and to ensure the continued momentum and vitality of our strong travel and tourism community so we can continue to drive growth across the state as one of its largest and most important industries. The stakes are too high, and our employees and communities are counting on our leaders in Lansing to do what is necessary and prudent for our state.

David Hooker is president and CEO of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

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